Jackknifed truck leaves potential voter in jam

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

For about an hour Tuesday evening, Jim Thomas was where no other eager voter hopes to be on Election Night: stuck in traffic about 80 miles from his polling location.

The financial adviser was driving home to Sterling Heights after traveling to Tennessee, where he also has a home. He’d cut the trip a day short to cast his vote in a presidential election that the 61-year-old calls “the dirtiest campaign I’ve ever seen in my life.”

But Thomas’ trek stopped when, while steering his Buick north on Interstate 75 in Toledo, not far from the Hollywood Casino, a jackknifed truck blocked all lanes for him and scores of other drivers, he said.

“I was really like: ‘I’m not going to make it. I’ve been driving all this way,’ ” Thomas told The Detroit News from the road.

The delay was an ironic twist since for months, Thomas had been closely watching, analyzing and discussing the presidential election — possibly more than previous ones. And realizing the race tightened in Michigan, now widely viewed as a battleground state for candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, he wanted to ensure his vote counted.

“I’d like to see Hillary get it, not so much because she’s a Democrat but because she does have more experience in politics than he does,” Thomas said. “We’d almost be starting over with him. … I’m a former coach, and I believe in team work. I’m thinking if she gets in there, she’s going to take an approach where we can work together. I don’t know if he’s got that in him.”

The fear that Thomas might miss his chance to vote gripped him as he watched flashing red, yellow and blue lights on the highway.

But thankfully, just before 6:20 p.m., crews cleared a path so traffic could start moving again — greatly raising Thomas’ chances of reaching his polls before the 8 p.m. close.

“I think I’ll get there right on the edge, but I’ll get there,” Thomas said.