Truck driver who crashed to avoid bikers: 'I was just thankful'

SEATTLE -- A semi-truck driver is being hailed as a hero after he slammed his rig into an I-5 Jersey barrier to avoid hitting a pair of motorcyclists.

Ashton Hoopes was driving on I-5 Monday morning when a Volvo cut him off, causing him to careen into the median near the I-90 interchange.

Hoopes, who's also and Army reservist, said he went into combat mode during the wreck and truly believes he experienced a miracle. Hoopes was able to walk away from fiery crash with only a separated shoulder.

"The first thing that flashed through my mind was my lovely, beautiful woman and our little boy. (I said) let me make it through here," Hoopes said.

He said his survival is the second miracle, with the first being that no other drivers were injured in the crash.

"I was just thankful," he said.

The wreck blocked I-5 for more than three hours, and traffic at times was backed up for up to seven miles.

Hoopes was heading southbound toward Kent with a load full of dirt when he said a Volvo cut him off and left him with nowhere to go.

"I was like, here is my only choice, to hit Jersey barricade so I don't hit anybody," he said.

That split-second decision sent his 90,000 pound rig into the concrete barrier. His truck overturned, losing its load and sending up a wall of dirt. The impact triggered massive flames in the cab with Hoopes still inside.

He panicked, thinking his truck clipped a motorcyclist. He kicked open the cab door and went looking for the biker.

"I was like, 'Did you see a guy on a bike?' He said, 'It was me. Thank you. If you hadn't hit the wall, I would be dead,'" Hoopes said.

Hoopes said this will likely be his last call in the big rig. Police are now searching for the silver Volvo that may have triggered the wreck.