Advertise Here


Explosion overhead

The explosion six inches above my head sounded like a gunshot; I kept control of the car as I drove 60 mph down the freeway, but moved my right hand over my body checking for bleeding. I know people have been shot and not known it until they saw blood gushing out of themselves. I wanted to find out if I was one of them. No blood, no sensation of dizziness or losing consciousness. My legs felt damp – blood? pee? No, I was sweating with terror. I kept driving. I glanced around looking for a bullet hole in the car since I could hear air moving into the car, but no windows were down. Where was it coming in?

Then, the sounds of broken glass above my head: the sunroof was shattered and small shards of glass were shifting. I heard a few clink, clink, against the top of the car as they flew off onto the freeway. I exited, stopped and called my husband who was driving a few miles ahead of me.

“Get back on the freeway; I’ll get off and wait on the entrance ramp where I am. Keep talking to me,” he advised. I got back on the freeway and drove on, worried that the wind could push open my side of the sunroof, allowing the glass – and bullet, rock, offending projectile – to blow down onto my head. My husband followed me as we drove 30 miles to our home.

I called Washington State Patrol and reported the probable glass left on the freeway, but said I saw no person, rock, projectile, falling debris or alien creatures on the freeway. Just heard the loud gunshot-like explosion, but I could not find a bullet lodged anywhere.

After my husband – a detective by profession – examined the car, he noticed that the jagged edges of the sunroof were not pointing downward, but up, and the roof itself  had no damage.

“I think your sunroof just exploded - up,” he said.


No gunman, no bullets and no explanation.  Searching the Internet, we discovered other drivers have experienced this phenomenon of exploding sunroofs: “I thought I was shot at.”

I am left with two lessons: even as I age, I am still very cool in a crisis and…that sunroof will remain closed in my car for the rest of its (repaired) life.

(S-R archive photo)

Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus
« Back to EndNotes

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

Ask a question: Catherine welcomes questions about aging issues and grief. Email her at

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
Advertise Here