WINSTED, Minn. – A 19-year-old woman who authorities said had a little too much fun at a Minnesota music festival last weekend now has an unintended claim to fame after getting her head stuck in a truck’s oversized exhaust pipe.
Kaitlyn Strom’s strange situation Friday at the Winstock Country Music Festival was captured in a five-second video that has since been viewed millions of times.
Strom told the Hutchinson Leader that she was hanging out with friends on the festival’s first day when she spotted the red truck.
“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,’” Strom said.
Fit, it did. Come back out, it did not.
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Strom was stuck for about 45 minutes as her friends summoned help. The Winsted Fire Department responded to the scene, where firefighters cut her head out of the pipe.
The short video of the incident, posted to multiple Facebook pages, shows a firefighter preparing to cut the pipe with what appears to be a hydraulic rescue tool also known as the “Jaws of Life.”
Paramedics examined Strom after she was freed, but she was not seriously injured. She did, however, get a citation for underage drinking from the McLeod County Sheriff’s Office, the Leader reported.
She also got a few moments of internet infamy, which she discovered upon arriving home around 3 a.m. Saturday and seeing the video for the first time.
“I never expected it to happen,” Strom told the newspaper. “I’m just from Litchfield. I’m not widely known, so it’s crazy to have everyone reaching out to me and stuff.”
Commenters on social media had a range of reactions to Strom’s self-inflicted predicament. Billy Little, one of the people who posted the video, wrote that he had to hear Strom’s side of the story.
“How much alcohol does it take to get your head stuck in a diesel pickup’s exhaust tip?” Little wrote.
Someone at an Indiana clothing store called Lamood Big Hats also posted about Strom.
“Please only put oversized hats on your head and not oversized tailpipes,” the store’s Facebook post read.
Other commenters were not nearly as kind to Strom, who embraced her embarrassing moment by posting a photo of herself holding the exhaust tip as she and the truck’s owner, Tom Wold, each give a thumbs-up sign.
“Yeah, I’m the tailpipe girl, whatchu know about it?” Strom wrote on Facebook. “#winstock2k18kickedmy(expletive).”
A cropped version of the photo has been used by news media in Minnesota and across the country.
Strom told the Leader she wasn’t letting the internet vitriol get to her.
“I’m just brushing it off, because that’s expected to happen,” Strom said.
She said she was focusing instead on the positivity of all the people who helped her in her time of need, including Wold, who also took the incident in stride.
“He was wonderful,” Strom told the Leader. “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.’”
Wold, who lives in Darwin, loaned the exhaust pipe to a bar there to drum up business.
“Ladies and gentlemen! Step right up and see the most famous tailpipe in Minnesota, quite possibly the world,” a post on the Darwin Tavern’s Facebook page read Wednesday. “Stop on down for a cold beverage, great food and the Winstock tailpipe! See you down here folks!”
The post included the hashtags #winstock18 and #tailpipegirl.
Though the bar’s post also invited some cruel comments toward Strom, the majority of commenters were a little more light-hearted. One man joked that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had a new safety sticker for guys with big tailpipes on their trucks.
“Danger! Do not place any body parts into exhaust tip,” the mocked-up sticker read. “You think this would go without saying, but Winstock ’18 ….”
An image on the fake sticker shows a stick person with their head stuck in a tailpipe.
Strom told the Leader this was her first year at Winstock, which she plans to attend in the future — just maybe not next year.
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