Dysart mother airlifted to Iowa City following semi crash near Clutier

Davis Co. driver cited for failure to obey stop sign, yield right of way

Dysart EMS ambulance and the University of Iowa’s AirCare helicopter pictured on Wednesday, June 15, in rural Clutier near the E29/V18 intersection following a crash involving two semis. –Photo courtesy of Dysart Ambulance Service

A pregnant Dysart mother is safely recovering at home this week following a crash involving two semis last Wednesday north of Clutier along the Hwy 63 detour route that ended in a flight to Iowa City by air ambulance.

Natalie Smice of Dysart was helping haul grain early on the morning of Wednesday, June 15 – heading north on V18 with an empty hopper trailer – when she noticed a semi with a flatbed trailer* driven by Dennis Harris of Pulaski, Iowa, approaching the E29/V18 intersection from the west.

“I was just filling in and helping out [that morning],” Smice, who is 29 weeks pregnant, said Saturday from her Dysart home where she’s been recovering since the crash. “I was headed to get loaded. I think [Harris] was on the 63 detour.”

Smice said Harris initially stopped at the stop sign but then began to roll forward as she quickly gained ground on the intersection.

“I slowed down when I saw him,” Smice said.

The view looking south on Monday, June 20, at the Tama County intersection where E29 meets V18, northeast of Clutier. This is the same view Davis County semi-driver Dennis Harris would have been facing on Wednesday, June 15, as Natalie Smice – driving a semi hauling a grain hopper – approached from the south on V18. –Photo by Ruby F. Bodeker

But then Harris stopped a second time which made Smice believe he had finally noticed her approaching. The E29/V18 intersection is located in a valley surrounded by agricultural fields with good visibility.

After Harris stopped the second time, Smice said she sped back up but suddenly Harris inexplicably pulled forward into the intersection – right in front of her.

“I held my breath and braced for impact,” she said. The driver’s side of Smice’s cab crashed into Harris just behind the cab on the passenger side.

According to the accident report, both semis suffered disabling damage in the crash.

Within minutes, Traer Ambulance was on scene. Harris made the initial 911 call.

“He was an amazing person,” Smice said of Harris who was not injured in the crash.

In the moments following the crash, Smice began to have contractions but everything calmed down relatively quickly and she refused care.

Unfortunately, as Smice was getting ready to leave, she began to experience “horrible contractions.”

With Traer Ambulance already gone, Dysart Ambulance was called. As a precautionary measure, the University of Iowa’s air ambulance was also called. Smice was taken to Iowa City by AirCare where she remained overnight.

“Thursday I arrived home. I am extremely sore,” Smice said on Saturday. “[Contractions] have stopped now.”

As a result of the crash, doctors will be monitoring Smice for pre-term labor for at least the next three weeks, as well as placental abruption and preeclampsia.

“This is the worst pregnancy so far,” Smice, a mother of two, said of her pregnancy.

For his part, Harris – who the accident report indicates was not distracted – was cited for failure to obey a stop sign and yield the right of way with no further charges pending.

“He said he didn’t see me,” Smice said of Harris. “He said it was 100 percent his fault. He was very worried.”

Thankfully the story seems to have ended as well as could be expected with Smice back at home as of this article’s publication – following a return trip to the emergency room Sunday night for pain – and her baby girl patiently waiting for the approaching due date.

But Smice said she won’t be driving a semi-truck again any time soon.

“Even just riding in a vehicle is scary right now.”

*Correction: The online version of this story has been updated to reflect that Dennis Harris was pulling a flatbed trailer. The Telegraph regrets the error which will appear in the print version.