Last week, Layne Geerdes made a viral TikTok so simultaneously bizarre and hilarious that many people were convinced it was fake. In the video, the 19-year-old appears teary-eyed, sitting upside-down in a nearly totaled truck. “Anyone wondering if the radio stays on when you get into a car accident?” he asks, crying into the camera. “It does! And it’s just playing Drake!” he wails as “Know Yourself” plays in the background.
After the TikTok amassed over seven million likes, Geerdes’ new followers had plenty of questions, like how did he get out unscathed even though the truck was wrecked? And did the accident happen because he was texting — or TikToking — and driving?
Geerdes has since tried to answer as many questions about the crash on his account with brief videos and replies to comments. But the actual story of what happened is far scarier and more emotional than the comical TikTok shows. “I was not even on my phone,” he tells me. “I had navigation pulled up. My phone was sitting on the center console, and I had to take a detour because the pavement was closed for road construction on the way I had taken to work. So I was on an unfamiliar road, probably doing 45. It was also really foggy that morning. Should I have been going that fast? No, but I was pretty comfortable with driving; I didn’t think I was driving out of my abilities.”
He recalls that Apple Maps showed a corner coming up, but it “didn’t look as tight as it was.” He felt the ascent of his truck wanting to slide, so he slowed down because he knew he was driving on loose gravel. But at that very moment, a deer walked right in front of him. “I took the left side of the corner and just slid right off. It doesn’t even look like my truck tried to turn,” he recalls.
“As soon as my side of the truck hit the ditch, I was fine for a little bit. I didn’t roll right away, but I remember thinking to myself when the weeds were level with my door, ‘If my frame catches, I’m going to roll,’” Geerdes continues, which is exactly what ended up happening.
He caught air within the first roll and “came back down so hard” that his front tire “took out a chunk of the road.” His truck landed upside-down, and he ended up in the back seat. It was a particularly emotional moment for him because of a strange coincidence: “This is the weird part — I had a buddy who passed away last month, and when I looked up between the seats, it was just his funeral picture and my phone and my wallet [in the center console].” Although he doesn’t believe in God, he thinks his friend protected him from harm during the accident.
As for why he decided to make the TikTok? He was killing time, waiting for another friend to come help him. “The radio was still playing, and I don’t even listen to Drake,” says Geerdes. “This is why I thought it was a little comical. But I was crying, of course; I just lost my truck. So when my radio was playing Drake on a public station at a random time, after I just crashed, I was just like, ‘Why in the hell is this on my radio right now?’ Everybody else seemed to think it was pretty funny, too.”
He first uploaded the video to Snapchat, then to TikTok. At the time, he only had 64 followers on the app, and he didn’t think much of it. But soon he went to sleep and woke up to the news that he was a viral sensation. “My phone was blowing up so much from the notifications between TikTok and Instagram that I thought my phone was ringing when I woke up,” he recalls.
Since the video went viral, he’s amassed some 80,000 followers. To take advantage of his newfound fame, he put up a GoFundMe to raise funds for a new truck. As of now, TikTok raised him over $4,000, but Geerdes hasn’t spent the money yet. “I’ve been looking for vehicles, and I was planning on making a video on what I buy and how I’m doing,” he says.
In nearly a week since the TikTok went viral, a lot has changed for the Iowa-based teenager. Mostly, though, he’s relishing the newfound attention. “I’m definitely going to make more videos just for the sole reason of why not put out entertainment if I already have 80,000 people that thought I was funny one time?” he says. “I think I’m a funny person. Maybe they’ll think I’m funny again. I’m not going to roll another truck for a video, though.”