Posted by: cindybythesea | August 10, 2022

Too Late

Wolf Creek Pass, Colorado

On September 21, 2021 Rifat Podzic shifted gears as he began the long ascent up Wolf Creek, Pass Colorado. His 2010 Peterbilt truck and trailer groaned beneath the weight of its load. Rifat checked his gauges and sighed as he began his ascent. Wolf Creek Pass had a reputation among truckers and it wasn’t a good one. And he would be more than happy to have this portion of his trip over with as soon as possible.

The tall green pines were mesmerizing in the light of the late September sun. Many were beetle killed which seemed odd. A thought Rifat didn’t dwell on too long as he neared the summit of the pass. Going up was one thing but it was a treacherous eight miles to the bottom on the West side with a number of hair pin turns to be maneuvered. And Rifat was rightly concerned as he was not a stranger to the reputation of this mountain. Even songs had been written about it as it was legendary for being a widow maker. In fact, from 2015 to 2019 there had been 47 accidents involving Semi-truck trailers three of which were fatal. But it was a beautiful Tuesday and Rifat was sure he had things under control. But holding the rig back was taking its toll on his brakes … and by the time Rifat had passed the second of two runaway truck ramps, it was too late. The same mistake Raul Marquez, of West Plain, Florida would make on a similarly beautiful afternoon six years prior to the day – Tuesday, September 21, 2015. An exact six years … by odd coincidence.

Signage for truckers on the pass.


A few days ago, we were traveling from Northern New Mexico to see family in Denver, Colorado. It was a trip that would take us over Wolf Creek Pass going and coming. It’s actually much safer than it was years ago but with its steep grade and hairpin turns it remains deadly for anyone who loses control of their vehicle – and for truckers under heavy loads it remains an ever present and deadly possibility.

As we began our ascent from the West Side we could see the road as it wound its way to the top. Cars like tiny bugs could be seen ascending and descending the highway which encompassed steep rock laden drop offs. The pass is just shy of 11,000 feet and is particularly treacherous in the winter. But last Friday August 5 was a beautiful day for a drive and we were relishing the sight of waterfalls and wildflowers among the towering pines as we made our way to the top.

Suddenly, something about 1/3 of the way down the thousand foot drop off glinted in the afternoon sun catching our attention. It was silver and metallic and appeared to be caught among the rocks. At first, I thought it was a piece of glass refracting the sunlight but it was much too large for that. I commented to my husband and he said it was probably a truck that had gone over the edge a while back. He had heard about it after seeing it on YouTube as another trucker had captured the whole thing on his dash cam as he was coming down the mountain. But, we really didn’t think much more about it until our return trip home on Monday.

So, on Monday August 8th we returned home from Denver stopping at the top of the pass at a designated pull off for a look at the valley below. As you can see from the photo below the views are stunning. And there are always a number of people and vehicles pulled over to take advantage of the view.

What was really strange is that the barrier the truck smashed through is right there at the entrance to the pull out. And it is nothing short of a miracle that another vehicle was not caught in its path as it came barreling through.

As I mentioned previously the entire incident was caught on film via the dash cam of another trucker which you can view here if interested. Watch for the blue and silver truck.

As I looked beyond the smashed barrier I could see a trail of pallets and beer cans suggesting that the the load Mr. Podzic had been transporting was beer. But beyond that I could not see anything as the truck itself was obscured from view by the rocks and the steep incline below. But it was the exact spot where the truck and driver had left the road which was sobering in itself to consider. And for some reason which I could not quite figure out there was a terrible stench around the ruined barrier almost as if the site was being used as a makeshift latrine which didn’t make sense as the barrier is in full view of on coming traffic and vehicles pulling in and out of the observation area.

According to reports Mr. Podzic was ejected from the vehicle and most likely died on impact. According to the investigation which followed the most probable cause was speed and brake failure. No drugs or alcohol were involved. Brakes in situations like this fail when over used to the point that they become red hot and no longer work. Something every truck driver is well aware of. Why the driver failed to take advantage of not one but two run away truck ramps (one of which was positioned just before the turn where he crashed) is a mystery. Something we will never know for sure.

This reminds me of folks who see the deterioration of our culture; the obvious direction we are headed and still fail to get serious about God and their own mortality. There is an exit ramp from this mess. But most like Mr Podzic will pass it by thinking for whatever reason that they are fine and can handle things on their own until suddenly it’s too late and the last opportunity for exit has been missed.

To put it in the most simple terms- Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life no one comes to the Father but by me”. John 14:6

We live in a time when access to Bibles are everywhere. Preachers and preaching have filled the airways for decades but the majority choose to continue on their journey through life without taking advantage of the one exit to safety that really counts. The warning signs are everywhere and at this late hour alarm bells are wildly clanging but most will fail to heed the warnings choosing instead to steer their “vehicles” to their own destruction.

I pray that Mr. Podzic had taken the one exit (Jesus) that really mattered. If so, he would have been catapulted not just off the mountain but in to heaven and in to the waiting arms of Jesus. I pray it was so.

*Thoughts attributed to Mr. Podzic in this story are purely fictional and written as an enhancement to the story. May his memory be a blessing to those who loved him.

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem they shall prosper who love thee” Psalm 122:6

Watching and waiting with YOU for the soon return of Jesus! Cindy


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