Dallas judge thankful to be alive after fiery crash involving 18-wheeler

A local judge is reflecting on the fiery crash that could have ended much worse earlier this week after an 18-wheeler crashed into her vehicle and then took off.

Police are continuing to investigate that crash from Tuesday morning.

State District Judge Lela Mays was driving to work when she was hit by a tractor trailer on the highway.

That driver sped off, but someone was able to help her out of the car before it burst into flames.

Mays says she has a testimony about Tuesday morning at 6:15 a.m., as she drove on Interstate 20 in southern Dallas.

It’s an experience that she walked away from, but one she will next forget.

Mays was on the bench Friday, but on Tuesday, she was in a very different place.

"I actually saw my life flash in front of me," she recalled.

Good Day traffic reporter Chip Waggoner spoke about the crash the judge was in when an 18-wheeler wheeler veered into her middle lane.

"What you have is a crash that's actually in the eastbound direction and it involves several vehicles, violent in nature," Waggoner said.

"First thought was I looked to my right, but there was another 18-wheeler there, so that wasn't an option. I hit my accelerator. I thought maybe I could get ahead of him because he doesn't hear my horn, and so all of a sudden, he hit me and when he hit me, because I had hit my accelerator, I go all the way around the front of his truck, where he is now pushing me," Mays recalled. "So he is pushing me on Interstate 20, at highway rates of speed, and I end up on his driver's side. Dawns on me I’m on my accelerator, hit your brake. I hit my brake, spun out, and hit the guardrail."

The car was badly damaged and started burning, but she didn't know that because the airbag had deployed and the hood was up.

"Gentleman came to my window and said, ‘Ma'am you’ve got to get out, your car is on fire.’ Well I try to get out and the door doesn't open, window doesn't go down, and so he went to my back seat and said, ‘Hey, get out this way.’ I said I can’t get out, then he says push your seat back," she recalled. "I push my seat back, I am able to get out. I have to crawl between the two seats to the back seat and he helps me out, and that's when the car really goes into flames."

When Mays went to see her car Wednesday, that’s when the gravity of the crash hit her.

"When you see the remnants of your car in the way that I did, I said, whoa, hold on. God was protecting me that day."

Miraculously, Mays suffered no serious injury.

"The only injury I have was from the airbag," she said. "I am here today and I am really happy about that and it just makes you think about what could have been."

Judge Mays said the 18-wheeler pulled over to the right shoulder, then took off.

A hit-and-run involving a big rig, but Mays is thankful she is alive to tell the story.