If not for a split-second reaction, his seat belt and a little divine intervention, Greg Peterson might not be around to attend his brother’s wedding this weekend.
“I'd like to acknowledge that God protected me and helped me with my decision making,” Peterson said. “I'm thankful God granted me another day to live.”
Peterson, of Peterson Farm Bros viral fame, was involved in a wreck Wednesday that ended with one of the farm’s semis overturned in the ditch and its 700 bushel load of milo spilled across the grass.
According to Peterson’s account and the Saline County Sheriff's Office, at 3:08 p.m. Wednesday, Peterson was traveling on K-4 highway near the S. Holmes Road intersection driving a white 2004 Freightliner when he topped a rise and saw another semi hurtling toward him.
“I saw (the semi) start to drift into my lane coming up the hill maybe 200 yards from me,” Peterson said. “By the time we would've met he was over halfway in my lane. I bailed into the ditch, which unfortunately had a steep shoulder.”
Peterson’s rig toppled to its side at 40 mph, sliding and then coming to rest in the ditch. Peterson was uninjured and able to immediately climb out of the cab, which he credits to his seat belt.
“That is something I'm really thankful for — I always wear my seat belt,” he said. “I have big rashes and bruises on my body from the seat belt holding me in place; I probably would've been seriously injured without it.”
The other semi, which Peterson and nearby witnesses described as a red long-nosed dual stack Freightliner with a sleeper cab, narrow windows, and a large dog in the passenger seat pulling an empty three-axle cattle pot trailer, did not stop.
“I’m glad I’m OK, and I'm glad (the other driver) is alive — he might have a family, too,” Peterson said. “That was the first thing I thought of, is that ‘I’ve got to get home to my wife.’ "
Speaking over the roar of a grain vacuum at the scene of the wreck Thursday afternoon, Peterson said so far no one has come forward to claim responsibility for the accident.
“We've contacted a couple of different companies, and the response has been, ‘We didn't have any trucks in the area,’ ” Peterson said. “That's what’s hard about the whole thing. There's no video of it happening, and he didn't actually hit me. There were a couple of witnesses, but it's still kind of our word against the unknown person or company.”
Though the grain and the trailer are salvageable, the truck itself seems to be totaled, Peterson said, adding the accident illustrates the impact any farming accident can have on small- to medium-sized agricultural operations.
“We bought the truck and trailer this summer and installed a wet kit that dumps the trailer, which is a long process,” he said. “It's things like that that people don't think about. It's not just a financial loss, it's a loss of time and stress that you spent purchasing those items and getting everything in line, and cleaning up post-accident.”
The Peterson Farm Bros have always used their sizable online presence to advocate for farm safety, and Wednesday’s incident underscores that mission, Peterson said.
“The message I want to leave folks with from this accident is that we have to be safe during harvest — whether you are a trucker, driving a car or driving a piece of farm equipment,” he said. “This is a dangerous occupation, and all of the farmers out there, they have families they want to get home to.
“I just want to remind everyone to be alert at all times, and be safe.”
The Peterson Farming Bros, comprised of Greg, 28; Nathan, 25; Kendal, 22; and honorary “bro” Laura, 18, rose to viral fame in 2012 with their “I’m Farming and I Grow It” parody of LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It,” and have since built a large online following, amassing over 50 million views. The siblings regularly travel for speaking engagements and maintain a fifth-generation family farm with their father near Assaria.