Thumbs-up after head was stuck in tailpipe

Kaitlyn Strom, right, held up the tip of the exhaust pipe her head was stuck in Friday as seen on the viral video that has more than 1 million views on Facebook. The Winsted Fire Department was called to cut the tailpipe and free Strom’s head. She and Tom Wold, the owner of the truck, both gave a thumbs-up to show there were no hard feelings.

We’ve all done something foolish and immediately thought, “I hope nobody saw that.” Unfortunately for 19-year-old Kaitlyn Strom of Litchfield, her recent mistake has been seen by millions of people.

Despite performances this past weekend from country music stars such as Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert, the Winstock video that is sweeping Facebook is a 5-second clip of Strom with her head stuck in the oversized exhaust pipe of a truck. Strom is looking down, her face not visible to the camera, as a firefighter works to cut the tailpipe and release her head.

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This gotta be the most yeeyee fukn thing I’ve seen all year

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According to Strom, the incident happened Friday evening when she was hanging out with a group of friends on the first day of the country music festival.

“We were just all having fun and I saw this big exhaust pipe and I was like, ‘Hey, my head could probably fit in that,’" she said, “so I tried it. It did fit, but it didn’t want to come back out.”

Upon realizing she was stuck, Strom tried to remain as calm as possible to keep the swelling in her head from worsening.

“(I was) kind of confused because I didn’t know what was going on, because I couldn’t see around me,” she said, “But I trusted everyone who was around that I knew to get me out safely.”

Strom estimated she was stuck for about 45 minutes. The Winsted Fire Department was called to cut off the exhaust pipe and free her head. She was given a medical exam after she was released, as well as later that night, and is doing well. She was also cited for underage drinking, according to the McLeod County Sheriff’s Office.

As embarrassing as it was to have her friends and strangers at the concert see her head stuck in an exhaust pipe, it was about to get much worse. When she arrived home around 3 a.m. Saturday morning, she realized there was a video on Facebook that already had thousands of views in just a few hours.

As of Tuesday morning, the clip, which is posted on the Facebook group “Truck Rice,” has 1.2 million views and has been shared more than 13,000 times. The same clip posted by a person called Billy Little has been viewed 1.7 million times and shared nearly 40,000 times.

“I never expected it to happen,” Strom said. “I’m just from Litchfield. I’m not widely known, so it’s crazy to have everyone reaching out to me and stuff.”

Of course with internet fame comes the negative comments. Strom said she was expecting it and isn’t letting it bother her.

“I’m just brushing it off, because that’s expected to happen,” she said. “A lot of people don’t realize how serious it was. So it’s kind of expected when it’s blasted on the internet that you’re going to get negative comments … Some people can be really cruel.”

Despite the negativity, Strom said she’s focusing on the positive comments and the people who helped her, such as her boyfriend and mother.

“I would just say thank you to everyone who has supported me and been there throughout this,” she said. “Even (the people) with the mean comments for teaching me who I don’t want to be like and how to be strong and not care and be bothered by what people say.”

She’s especially grateful to Tom Wold of Darwin, the owner of the exhaust pipe.

“I did not know him, but everyone who was around me knew him,” she said. “He was wonderful. I remember getting my head unstuck, and I just looked at him and apologized, and he said, ‘No, I’m just glad you’re OK. Don’t worry about it.’ He has already fixed his exhaust and is going to be working on that. I did not have to pay for anything like that, because he was absolutely wonderful.”

This was her first visit to Winstock, and while she plans to go back some day, she said she may take next year off.

Most importantly, Strom said she’s learned a valuable lesson.

“To not stick my head in a tailpipe,” she said with a laugh.