My husband and I rented a 15 ft truck from Penske in Bakersfield, CA. On 11/2/03 at 4:15 am while 1 mile up the grapevine on interstate 5 the truck came to an abrupt stop while we were in the middle lane. My husband and I both hurried to put on the emergency flashers and exit the vehicle.
Meanwhile large trucks were passing on our right, cars on the left, trying to avoid hitting us. We got to the shoulder of the road; my husband called 911 and alerted the CHP and asked to have a tow truck sent immediately.
We stood out in 30 degree freezing temperatures and waved by oncoming traffice to avoid hitting the truck. Twenty minutes later the CHP officer showed up. He parked his car behind our rental truck and placed several flares on the road. He stood back on the left side and we were on the right. We watched in horror as multiple semi trucks and cars approached the vehicle and swerved all over the road to avoid hitting each other AND the rental truck.
Thirty minutes after the CHP officer arrived the tow truck came. We were so relieved to get the rental truck off the road and onto the shoulder. After standing out in the cold for 1 1/4 hours (We were practically frozen) and experiencing the worst and most frightening thing that has ever happened to us we finally headed home in the tow truck. We were asked to take the truck to the Penske company in Bakersfield.
When we arrived were were told that "we are not responsible for the contents of the truck". Needless to say at this point Penske has done nothing for us except demand that we pick up the truck's contents immediately (as of 4pm on 11/3). As far as we know they still intend on charging us for the truck. They have no intention of reimbursing us for the items which were broken during the tow.
The manager told me they opened the back of the truck so I have no idea if everything is still there. My husband and I were nearly killed. We sat in a vehicle for two minutes or so (as we sat there I prayed to God that we not die for the sake of our children and grandchildren) in the middle lane of one of the busiest freeways in the state of California in pitch black wondering if we were going to be hit from behind at any second.
We feel that we were put into an unsafe vehicle. We were lucky that we walked away. Others in the same situation may not be as lucky. The bearing in the differential went out. This is what caused our near fatal accident. Could this have been avoided?