Police are investigating after an object, believed to possibly have been a turnip, was thrown off an overpass, striking the windshield of a semi-truck early Monday morning.
The incident happened shortly after 12:15 a.m. on I-88 Eastbound in rural Lyndon. Scott Coyle, who has been a truck driver since 2011, was en route to a delivery when he noticed a figure standing on top of an overpass.
Coyle, a third-generation truck driver and an Iowa native, tells KWQC, "I was just cruising along like normal. It was very late at night because I do the night shift for my job and I love it. There's few cars, an open road, and it's nice and easy to deal with."
He explained as he approached the overpass in a fully-loaded 18-wheeler, things quickly changed. "The second that I started to go underneath the overpass I saw an object drop, hit the windshield, and crack it quite badly," said Coyle.
"I didn't know exactly what the object was itself," he said. "My first thought went to a brick or a rock."
Coyle said the window did not break entirely, so he was able to drive to the next exit and call the Whiteside County Sheriff's Office. "I decided to avoid having any issues just to go to the next exit," said Coyle.
"They were excellent and handled the situation properly," he explained. "They were great. They were there within 10 to 15 minutes. I told them not to rush, to worry about them, and to make sure nobody else is getting hit."
The Whiteside County Sheriff's Office told TV6, according to an incident log from sheriff's deputies who responded to the incident, the object was a purple, 'possible turnip' that was thrown off the bridge, striking Coyle's windshield.
"You could see the splatter from when it hit and then splattered across the top of it," said Coyle.
Whiteside County Sheriff John Booker said, "this could have been a very dangerous situation," calling the actions "childish and foolish."
Booker told TV6 he hasn't seen anything like this in years. He explained around Halloween years ago, people committed similar acts using pumpkins, but nothing like this. He said it is considered a crime.
Coyle said, "I kind of saw it coming, but I chose not to want to see it coming. Thankfully it was me and not a car. I was worried about what would have happened to a car with a more angular windshield. Thankfully semi windshields are more flat, so it just kind of bounced off and then down and sort of cracked the windshield."
He said many truck drivers are familiar with incidents that have happened involving objects being thrown off bridges. As a truck driver, Coyle said, "we're trained to look around have a bigger perceptual vision than most people."
"If you stop that quickly you'd never stop in time. If you try to swerve, you might roll a truck," he said, explaining why it would not have been a good choice to try and stop as he saw the figure.
"We're trained to keep our hands on the wheel no matter what because a lot of people will freak out and put their hands over their faces," he explained. "You can't do that in a semi."
Coyle said there was no major damage, and after both he and police assessed the windshield, it was determined he was able to continue to his delivery, but knows the outcome could have been much more serious.
"I'm angry with them but I'm more thankful it happened to me than someone else. Someone else could have been far less prepared and it could have been far worse. This time they got lucky. Next time they won't," said Coyle.
"This is dangerous. You could kill someone easily," he said. "I'm glad it was me and not a kid or a single mother with kids in the car."
Coyle, a proud father who is grateful to be okay, said he hopes this will remind people to think twice before acting.
The Whiteside County Sheriff's Office said if you have any information on the crime, you can anonymously contact their Crimestoppers line at 815-625-7867. All information remains anonymous through Crimestoppers.
No injuries were reported in the incident.