SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A Sioux Falls man is thankful to be alive, after being struck by a pickup that was crossing the center lane in an I-90 construction zone between Humboldt and Hartford.
Moments later, the same pickup hit an RV head-on, causing a fiery crash. The damage is so bad authorities are still working to confirm the 3 victims’ identities.
Tuesday, barely 24 hours after it happened, we hear from a Sioux Falls man who experienced it all firsthand.
“I remember passing the RV right before the construction zone,” crash survivor Sheldon Tulio said.
Sheldon Tulio was on his way home to Sioux Falls after taking his cat to the vet in Montrose when his quiet drive home abruptly changed.
“It was just a split second, I didn’t even know what happened at first, all I could see was silver, then the airbags, then I was rolling and everything was flying around,” Tulio said.
The silver was from a 2014 Dodge Ram pickup that was traveling west in the construction zone on I-90 when it crossed the center lane, striking multiple vehicles in the eastbound lane, including Sheldon’s jeep.
“They hit me straight on, driver side front of my vehicle,” Tulio said.
The impact happening at 60 miles an hour sent Sheldon rolling down the ditch along I-90.
“After the first roll out of maybe two or three I realized I had my cat in the vehicle and I need to make sure she’s safe, so I reached across while she was basically in midair and grabbed her bag, and pulled it towards me until we stopped,” Sheldon said.
A good Samaritan ran down to help Sheldon and his cat crawled out of his crushed vehicle. Thankfully, his seatbelt kept him safe.
“From what highway patrol said, it was the only thing that kept me alive yesterday,” Tulio said. “All I have to say is please wear your seatbelt…buckle up your kids your pets, anything. I would rather take these multiple bruises against my body than not have a life right now.”
Today he still has plenty of scrapes and bruises, but the deeper wound comes with the fate of the people in the RV directly behind him.
“When I finally settled I could smell burning… I saw flames as tall as my house…it was horrifying,” Tulio said.
The pickup that sent Sheldon flying into the ditch hit the RV behind him head on, causing both vehicles to burst into flames that could be seen from miles away, killing the drivers of both vehicles and a passenger inside the RV.
“Why me, why was it me over anyone else,” Tulio said. “I still have yet to fully process it, being the only one that really, out of the major devastation that crash made, words can’t express how grateful I am to still be living, not only for myself, but for my friends, my family.”
Sheldon is also incredibly grateful to the many people and first responders who stopped to help him and all others involved in the crash.
“A major thank you to Stephen, being the first one to run down and make sure I was ok, Jenille, the first responder who was off duty who came to make sure I was ok and made sure I was stable and kept me calm the whole time,” Tulio said. “And to the first responders, the Humbolt ambulance, the police and highway patrol that came, everyone.”
Authorities were on the scene for hours Monday night as I-90 was shut down in both directions as they investigated the crash. The highway patrol has not yet released the identities of the three people who died.