PUTNAMVILLE -- Traveling Interstate 70 late Thursday afternoon must have seemed like a dream to an Ohio woman.
But it was nearly a nightmare for all those traveling around her westbound Chrysler Town and Country van.
There are tired travelers. There are drowsy drivers. And then there's this woman, described by interstate witnesses as completely asleep at the wheel as she drove along I-70.
Other drivers began observing the van driving erratically at about 4:45 p.m. around the 31-mile marker near the Putnam-Clay county line (approximately six miles west of the Putnamville State Road 243 exit).
The woman had apparently navigated through eastern Indiana, got safely through the traffic nightmare than can be Indianapolis, and must have relaxed as congestion and related stress abated somewhere around the Cloverdale exit at the 41-mile marker.
Unfortunately, within the next couple of miles and minutes, the Sandman intervened, and she was reportedly full-snore, dead asleep as other westbound drivers honked their horns and tried to get her attention.
Of course, for their own safety, they had to keep their distance and the van somehow continued on its merry way westbound as Indiana State Police at Putnamville were alerted to the situation.
"There were three of our ISP troopers en route to stop her," Sgt. Joe Watts, public information officer for the Indiana State Police Putnamville District, said Friday. "We take this seriously."
There is no way to know exactly how long the woman had been asleep and how far her vehicle traveled, but her van must have perfect front-end alignment to have kept the vehicle on course as well as it did.
Needless to say, more than a few anxious moments transpired before the wayward van was halted.
It was Putnamville Trooper Troy Cobb, who resides near Brazil, who ended up stopping the drowsy driver.
Although he had already officially marked off duty for the day and was headed home, Cobb heard the dispatch and diverted his cruiser to the interstate, entering I-70 from State Road 59.
At one point in the would-be pursuit, he reported that the van had just passed him westbound and he was turning around to go after it.
"Trooper Cobb used his red and blue lights (and siren) to stop her," Sgt. Watts explained.
"If a person is asleep at the wheel as we pull alongside, we would use audible means to gain their attention and then pull them over," he added.
That apparently did the trick for Cobb and the Ohio driver as potential tragedy was averted.
The trooper accompanied the woman off the interstate to the Pilot truck stop at the State Road 59 interchange in Clay County (the 23-mile marker of I-70), where she took a break before continuing. Certainly mass quantities of caffeine were probably consumed.
She was not charged with any offense, police said.
"She was polite and cooperative," Sgt. Watts noted.
There is a lesson to be learned from this, he agreed.
"I would remind motorists," Watts added, "that fatigued driving is just as dangerous as impaired driving. I encourage drivers to take frequent breaks during their travels."
But hopefully just not while they're actually driving.