Monday, August 6, 2007

A Series of Fortunate Events

It could have been angels or Jungian synchronicity. I'll take plain dumb luck as an explanation for why my friend and I walked away from what could have been a horrific auto accident Friday.

We were on our way to New Orleans, toodling along about 70 in the fast lane. We'd been on the road 20 minutes or so after a stop for lunch and fuel. Then wham! - a big cardboard box flies off the flatbed truck in front of us, whop! onto the road not five feet in front of the car. Verna steers to the left to get around it, but there's not enough time and whap! we hit the box and start spinning. One spin, two spins, backward across two lanes of traffic (you could see the skid marks) onto the embankment, then the rear tire catches in the soft ground, but we're going down hill and the car tips over onto my side. I see grass slide by and then whup!- we're upright again in a small pile of dry brush. The whole thing took maybe 10 seconds, and we walked away.

We did go to the UAB emergency room (my darling husband drove the 70 miles from Birmingham to pick us up) to get checked out but there are just a couple of bruises and some back strain.

This is the series of fortunate events:

  • When we stopped for gas, Verna asked me if I wanted to drive her car, and I said no, let's switch the next time we stop. If I had been driving, I don't think I'd have been familiar enough with the car to handle an emergency. She did a superb job.
  • The box that fell was packed with acoustic foam ceiling tiles, as opposed to a box of pipe joints or other shrapnel. We basically crushed it when we ran over it, so it flipped into the median and although the road was covered with pieces of foam, it didn't cause any other damage.
  • The biggie - nobody hit us when we were spinning. That's what I was terrified of and I still get a shiver when I think of it. Everyone was driving the speed limit and the people behind us saw what happened and slowed down.
  • The embankment had been mowed recently so there weren't any hidden things to run over. And there weren't any of those ridiculous real estate signs either - I would have hated for one of them to go through my window when the car rolled. And that "clear zone" that ALDOT gets harassed about by tree-huggers like me? I am sure glad it was there.
  • The only pile of dry branches and limbs in a mile was right where we landed. I did have to yell at Verna to turn off the car (don't want any fires) but it made for a much softer landing than the brush and trees.
  • A state trooper was on his way to another wreck and happened by 30 seconds after we came to rest. He was terrific and very helpful.
  • I had my camera with me and the first thing I did after I got out of the car was to reach back in and get it and start taking pictures. It always helps to be able to document.
  • And of course we were wearing our seatbelts. If we had not (and I never put a car into gear without fastening my seatbelt) then we would have been tossed around and probably broken our necks.
Some wreck investigators came to the scene, and they said accidents like this usually end up with someone in the ICU or dead. It makes us angrier as we think about it, that someone didn't take five extra minutes to thoroughly secure their load and my kids nearly ended up orphans. C'mon people, pay attention - imagine your mom is driving behind you (and that you like her) and tie down your payload accordingly.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

I am SO glad you're okay! That is frightening. Dear Husband and I had something similar happen when we were driving down 280 to an Auburn game a couple of years ago. Visibility was great, and there was very little traffic, but for some reason a pickup pulled out in front of us from the right, and we did the spinning thing too. There's no way the driver could have missed seeing us -- if he'd looked.

We ended up facing the wrong way in the left lane, shaken but okay. One thing that saved us was we were in DH's little car instead of my momvan. If we'd been in a top-heavy vehicle, we might have flipped over.

This kind of thing makes you glad you wear your seatbelt, doesn't it?