Applegate resident feels lucky to be alive

Mother of three received eight staples in head after rollover
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Jennifer Williams, 45, isn’t sure why she is alive right now, but she’s grateful to be here for her children. Williams, an Applegate resident, was involved in a rollover accident Oct. 30 that flattened the cab of her one-ton Dodge diesel pick-up truck. After getting eight staples to repair a deep gash on her head, Williams said she is recovering well. Williams, who has owned a trailer-hauling company called Empire Transport Services for the last decade, was going 52 miles per hour heading westbound on Highway 50 near the Watt Avenue exit when the trailer attached to her truck began to wobble back and forth. The condition of the road, which is currently under construction, was a factor in the trailer continuing to lose control, Williams said. “Usually it corrects itself, but because of the road surface … the trailer started to bounce, and once it started to bounce it wanted to swing from side to side,” she said. Williams said she knew what was going to happen right away, so she tried to maintain control of the vehicles as long as she could. “When it was happening, I knew it was going to happen, because I had seen it with others before,” she said. “When the trailer started to whip, I thought, ‘Oh my God, keep it under control … long enough that people can get out of your way,’ and that worked.” Williams said she thought right away that her fate had been sealed. “I thought, ‘Oh here we go,’” Williams said. “‘This is it. I’m done.’” Williams had previously been in an accident where a young driver hit her head on, and she thought it was ridiculous that her life was being risked again. As the trailer flipped over and caused the truck to follow, Williams said she tried to do everything she could to go with the roll, scrunching herself down toward her feet. “It’s kind of the whole scenario of the tail wagging the dog,” she said. “It flipped me completely over. I was awake and aware for the whole thing. As the truck rolled and the windows blew, I basically followed the truck as it rolled. (Then) I was upside down. At that point I was squished in the cab of the truck with no windows to see out of.” Williams, whose ears, nose and mouth were filled with dirt from the shoulder of the road, was shocked when an off-duty police officer came up to the truck and told her to hold still. “I was like, ‘No, I’m not going to hold still,’” Williams said. “‘I want out.’” The officer yanked the passenger door off the truck with his bare hands, and Williams was able to crawl out. She didn’t realize at the time that the vehicle had caught fire. “I remember crawling out of the truck and not really comprehending,” she said. “I didn’t really see the truck, except for the back end of it when I got out.” Williams was taken to the UC Davis Medical Center on Stockton Boulevard where her three children, Claire Hanrahan, 24, Brendan Hanrahan, 22, and Chelsea Williams, 16, met her. Claire Hanrahan and Brendan Hanrahan had both been in Los Angeles for a wedding when Claire got the call about her mother’s accident. Claire Hanrahan said the voicemail she received was from a man at the scene, and it was hard to get any information after that. “He called me and left me this somewhat confusing message that she was OK, but it was a somewhat questioning tone,” Claire Hanrahan said. She and her brother flew back to Sacramento, and Claire Hanrahan said her initial fears were put to rest when she saw her mother. “It was more of a relief, but I’m not entirely surprised,” Claire Hanrahan said. “If anyone is going to survive something of that magnitude, it’s going to be her.” Chelsea Williams, a Placer High School student, said seeing her mother was a shock. “Her whole head was just matted with blood and dirt,” Chelsea Williams said. “I was flustered. I was trying to keep it together for my mom. I’m the one that is like, ‘Oh, Mother, don’t you do this again. You almost gave me a heart attack.’” Chelsea said when she first heard about the accident she thought she might be planning her mother’s funeral instead of welcoming her back home. Brendan Hanrahan said he wanted to keep the situation at the hospital as light as possible. “When we got to the hospital, most of what I was focusing on was trying to make jokes, make her laugh,” Brendan Hanrahan said. “She’s been through this before, and it’s just a matter of trying to stay calm and not make a big deal out of it.” Chelsea said she has recently gotten a job to help bring money into the house so her mother can have time to slow down and find another job. Jennifer Williams said she is planning on closing her business, which usually causes her to drive about 50,000 miles a year, and going back to school to find a new career. “I’m going to do (the hauling job) because I have to for right now, but I am going to phase it out,” she said. “I have had two major car accidents where I didn’t have any control and it wasn’t my fault. It’s just gotten to the point where the risk outweighs the benefits. I love doing what I do, and that makes me sad. But how many times can I put my children through this?” No one has been cited for the accident, but Jennifer Williams said she plans to look into several things, such as any possible problems with the trailer. Jennifer Williams said she appreciates how much her children have been there for her, and she doesn’t intend to leave them any time soon. “I’m here to stay,” she said. Reach Bridget Jones at ------------------------------------------------------- Donating to Jennifer Williams’ college fund Visit: