Billings woman drives through dust storm in Hardin, police offer safety tips

Several people have spoken about what it was like driving through the dust storm in Hardin on Friday.

A Billings woman traveling west on Interstate 90 made it out safely.

“The wind was really, really bad,” said Susannah Bush. “Almost immediately in front of me, I could see like a wall. Nothing. It just wrapped around you very, very fast as you drove. There was no way around it. Like a horror movie. Suddenly you are cut off from everything. It was so scary.” .

Bush was heading home from visiting his granddaughter in Sheridan and had just returned to Interstate 90 after fueling up at Hardin.

“My first thought was I had to get off the road or I was going to get hit or I was going to hit someone,” Bush said. “I could see the taillights of cars right in front of me, but not far away.”

Bush was on the part of the interstate that didn’t have all the crashes and says everyone around him stayed in their vehicles.

And that’s something the Montana Highway Patrol troopers recommend.

“Your vehicle is meant to keep you safe, to keep you restrained and to keep you in the vehicle,” Sgt. Jay Nelson said, “so fasten your seat belts. Hold on tight. Don’t panic.”

MHP public information officer Nelson says to also turn on your headlights and hazard lights. Stay on the right side of the road and drive 15-25 miles per hour on rumble strips.

“You feel your vehicle start to vibrate and it tells you that you’re on the side of the road,” Nelson said. “Many times I’ve been in extreme weather events where I literally drive down those rumble strips because they know exactly where I am.”

On Friday at Hardin, visibility returned about 45 minutes later, making it safe to get back on the road.

And while they talk about their experiences and security, they remember the six people who died and the eight taken to the hospital.

“Our hearts go out to these victims at this mass casualty event,” Nelson said. “This is a tragic event for our state.”

“My heart goes out to the families that were involved in part of the accident,” Bush said. “I can’t imagine the fear and loss they feel right now. That’s the biggest thing you take with you. It’s heartbreaking.”

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