‘Between God and my husband, they kept us upright’: Natchez couple’s 18-wheeler one of three in fatal Iowa collision

Published 2:01 pm Thursday, January 25, 2024

STORM LAKE, Iowa – Angela Bruce Patterson was a self-described “nervous wreck” on Thursday, less than 48 hours after the tractor-trailer rig driven by her husband and traveling partner was involved in a fatal collision with two other semitrailers.

“I think I have some PTSD,” said Angela, who is a Natchez native. “I’m just so confused … and we’re trying to figure out what to do.”

Patterson’s husband, Cedric, was driving the couple’s 18-wheeler northbound on U.S. 71 near Storm Lake on Tuesday night when another semitrailer “blew through the two-way crossing,” Angela said. “He never even hit the brakes … he blew through that stop sign and it all happened so fast.”

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According to Iowa State Patrol reports, the other semitrailer was driven by Humberto Aladro-Valdes, 63, of Storm Lake. The vehicle was traveling westbound on Iowa 7 when it failed to stop at the intersection. The truck then hit the Pattersons’ truck.

“If we had been two seconds later, it would have been too late,” Angela said. “(Aladro-Valdes’) trailer hit us right where our trailer connects to the cab of the truck …. we were carrying 76,000 pounds on our trailer, and the collision through it flying into the air.”

The trailer, which remained connected to the cab, came down atop the bed of a third semitrailer traveling southbound on U.S. 71 “and busted it right in half,” she said. “We were sliding and we were going down an embankment …

“Between God and my husband, they kept us upright.”

Aladro-Valdes was not wearing a seatbelt and died as a result of the collision.

Angela and Cedric had just leased their truck about a week ago, she said. The couple began their cross country journey about 18 months ago.

“Cedric worked for Danny Smith Construction for a long time,” Angela said. “When Danny passed a way during (the COVID pandemic) we had to reevalute what we were going to do …and he ended up in trucking school.”

After training, the couple loaded their belongings and two fur babies – “a 17-year-old Yorkie and a 10-year-old medium-sized rescue” – into the truck and began a new chapter in their lives. Angela, 61, quickly adapted to life as a “passenger princess,” allowing her to travel alongside her husband and provide support and GPS services, as needed. And they were loving life on the road until Tuesday night.

“Now, I don’t even know if I can get back in a truck to get home,” Angela said.

Their newly-leased truck was totaled in the collision, and Angela said the couple and their dogs are staying at a hotel until they can figure out transportation home.

“The troopers kept saying how lucky we were to walk away from this. And I told them luck was nowhere in the equation. All praise and glory is to our Lord above.”