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Billings woman drives through dust storm in Hardin, trooper offers safety tips

Posted at 5:04 PM, Jul 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-18 10:09:48-04

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

A Billings woman, who was traveling westbound on Interstate 90, made it out safely.

"The wind was really really bad," said Susannah Bush. "Almost immediately ahead of me, I could see just like a wall. Nothing. It just enveloped you really, really quickly as you were driving along. There was no way to avoid it. like a horror movie. All of a sudden, you're closed off from everything. It was very scary."

Bush was on her way home from visiting her granddaughter in Sheridan, and had just gotten back on Interstate 90 after getting fuel in Hardin.

"First thought was I need to get off the road or I'm going to get hit or I'm going to hit someone," Bush said. "I could see taillights of cars right in front of me, but not very far."

Bush was on the part of the interstate that did not have all the crashes and says everyone around her stayed in their vehicles.

And that's something that Montana Highway Patrol troopers recommend.

"Your vehicle is meant to keep you safe, keep you restrained and keep you in the vehicle," said Sergeant Jay Nelson, "So get your seatbelts on. Hold tight. Don't panic."

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

"You feel your vehicle start to vibrate tells you that you're on the side of the road," Nelson said. "Many times I've been in extreme weather events where literally, I'm driving down those rumble strips because they know exactly where I'm at."

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

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

"Our hearts go out to these victims in 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 the accident part," Bush said. "I can't imagine the the fear and the loss that they're feeling right now. That's the biggest thing you take from it. It's heartbreaking."