A New Jersey woman was driving home before 3 a.m. Wednesday when she struck a deer on the highway. The next thing she knew, a gas tanker hit her car and exploded.
Fortunately for 18-year-old Marissa Patterson, she had jumped out of her 2017 Honda Civic after it spun out of control on eastbound Highway 37. While she was on the side of the roading, attempting to contact police, the truck filled with 8,700 gallons of gasoline hit her vehicle.
Patterson said the impact sent her Honda into the highway's concrete barrier and overturned the truck, causing a massive explosion that sounded like "somebody just dropped a bomb."
Manchester Township police say the truck and Patterson's car immediately burst into flames and set fire to both lanes of the highway.
"It just ignited. It hit, and it blew up and it was just so loud," Patterson told News 4 in an interview.
When first responders arrived on the scene, Patterson was desperate to find out if the truck driver was OK. "I was like 'I'm fine. Get off me. Go help the guy in the semi-truck. I don't know if he's OK,'" she recalled.
The trailer portion had separated from the tanker when had 46-year-old Svilen Ivanov of Voorhees crashed into Patterson's car, police said, and Ivanov wasn't injured but he was transported to the hospital as a precaution. While neither driver was hurt in the accident, the explosion damaged surrounding businesses and nearby wooded areas.
First responders applauded Patterson for her quick thinking because the outcome could have turned out tragic.
"[They] said, 'Thank God you're a smart girl and you got out of your car because you would have been dead.' And I'm like 'yeah, I know,'" Patterson said.