Luther resident Pam Hilliard was on her way to her office in Oklahoma City this morning around 9 or so on the Turner Turnpike. Alert because of high winds and fire danger, the black smoke that billowed ahead of her caught her attention.
By the time she crossed the bridge that covered a road, the black smoke had increased. The smoke was so black and centralized that Hilliard suspected that it was not a grass fire but a probable accident below the turnpike on one of the side roads.
She immediately dialed “Star 55” (*55) to report the probable accident.
It wasn’t until after her work day late this afternoon that Hilliard heard the news about the death of former Chesapeake Energy Chairman Aubrey McClendon in a fiery crash in the same vicinity of the accident she likely saw the smoke from near Midwest Boulevard and Memorial Road.
“It just makes you heartsick. When you hear about traumatic things and you don’t know the details, it makes you say a prayer for those affected. It makes you want to go home and hug your own family,” she said.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says that dialing *55 for road emergencies is like using 911. Hilliard said there was an immediate answer when she dialed and was able to tell the dispatcher the mile-marker of where she saw the smoke, not on the turnpike but below on a side road. She said the dispatcher indicated no one else had called yet about a fire or accident.
She said dialing “* 55” is very easy to maneuver while driving and she is grateful for the ease of being able to call for help in an emergency.