Three years ago Wednesday, Adacia Chambers drove her car into the crowd watching OSU’s homecoming parade.
Four people were killed. Four dozen others were injured.
One thing that was needed that day was an effective safety barrier to protect the spectators.
An Owasso man believes he’s invented one.
After the tragedy, Dr. Dirk Thomas began searching for something that could protect spectators, but he couldn’t find anything.
“It’s something that we didn’t ever think we had to deal with before,” said Thomas. “There wasn’t anything that would efficiently and effectively stop a car.”
So he started tinkering with designs – it needed to be portable and easy to assemble without tools.
He brought in mechanical engineer Kyle Kress to help with the design.
“We’ve tested it five times,” said Kress.
Each time with remote controlled vehicles. They’ve made small modifications, added more reinforcements and stronger cables.
They say they’ve tested their design, which they call a “Cowboy Barrier,” at high and low speeds. A low-speed test on an abandoned stretch of Interstate 44 in Catoosa showed the effectiveness of their design.
“To see how the barrier performs with the car impacting it at 30 to 35 miles per hour,” said Kress.
In that test, in only 15 feet, it stopped a vehicle traveling 34 miles per hour.
“I feel like we’ve made something that could really save people,” declared Thomas.
The City of Stillwater will have two Cowboy Barriers deployed during this weekend’s homecoming parade.