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Thu., Sept. 26, 2013, 8:50 p.m.

Explosion overhead

A project to replace freeway lighting in downtown Spokane will cause traffic backups for another week. (Colin Mulvany)
A project to replace freeway lighting in downtown Spokane will cause traffic backups for another week. (Colin Mulvany)

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)

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