HOUSTON -- Houston area freeways can be obstacle courses; furniture that falls from pickups, mattresses in moving lanes of traffic. Any one of them can cause a serious accident.
Late last week, Darla Oakes ran into road debris; rather, it ran into her. And she could have been decapitated.
The Pasadena grandmother was taking her husband of nearly 50 years home after he had heart surgery. Before he left St Luke's, his nurse cautioned him against getting excited.
Not far from their home, he and his wife had a real jolt.
"It sounded like a rocket grenade going off in the car," he said.
His wife thought a petrochemical plant had exploded.
"And it was just a few days after the Paris attacks," she said. "I didn't know what it was."
What they saw was the window shattered in their SUV. Oakes, a former schoolbus driver, didn't panic on impact. She managed to avoid traffic and pulled her vehicle into an emergency lane.
Too nervous to be able to call 911, the couple decided to drive the short distance to their home. Police came to the house, and took a report.
It states "vehicle hit by metal/iron pipe. Hood also damaged. The hole in her window is believed to have come from a inch metal pipe, most likely road debris hit by another car and then deflected into the couple's truck."
The hole was directly in front of where Oakes was behind the steering wheel. The glass was shattered but the pipe didn't make it inside the truck.
"The officer said if it had, I would have been decapitated," Oakes told us.
Police recommend not to drive behind trucks loaded with equipment, and to be mindful of any and all road debris. Another thing to avoid is panic, which can cause a driver to try to steer away from danger and right into the path of another car. Instead, officers say to steer your vehicle into an emergency lane.
Darla Oakes wasn't behind a truck- and she didn't panic.
"My daddy was a Greyhound Bus driver," she said, "and he taught me well."
She didn't go back to look for the pipe, and even if she had found it, it probably couldn't be traced to the person who left it behind.
The couple does want their story to remind people to stay alert on the freeways, and to take it's message to heart.
"It makes your rethink your priorities," she said. "And to thank God. This is our Thanksgiving blessing."
Couple nearly decapitated by pipe through windshield