Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Always wear your seatbelts!

I started to write an entry about our trip out to San Antonio, but I mentioned our new minivan, and the only way I could possibly begin to justify the fact that we now own a minivan (yuck) is to mention the car accident that required the purchase of a new car, and one does not simply gloss over an accident in which a car is left in a twisted heap of metal on the side of the highway and everyone manages to get out alive. I know, because I made the mistake of trying. Once word got out about how serious the accident was, I got yelled at a lot by the people I had simply told, "I was in a car accident but I'm fine."

There's not a lot in the way of narration because I was asleep (at the wheel) for the most interesting part of the accident--the impressive drift off the road and subsequent launch over the guard rail. The two eye-witnesses differed somewhat: I either hit a rock that launched me over or simply popped up on a low section of the railing, but the first thing I remember, I was barrelling over dirt and rocks at 65+ mph and thinking, "if I brake and swerve, I can get back onto the road and I won't have to call a tow truck." Then in a split second--so fast I didn't process it all for hours--I rolled several times, lost most of a tire, and landed on my side, with the airbag deployed and one window shattered. To my credit as a mom, I turned around and saw that the kids were okay before I started getting annoyed by all the damage I'd just caused. I actually sat there, alive in my utterly destroyed car, and fumed because I would have to pay to get the airbag repacked and the window replaced. Never mind the fact that, oh, I was on my side and the rest of my car was unrecognisable. It was the airbag that annoyed me. Funny how the mind works in times of stress--mine just refused to acknowledge it.

I had to crawl out of the broken side window and see my children trapped in the backseat, with all doors smashed beyond use, before I got scared. I searched around for my cell phone, but it had been sitting on the dash board and had flown off into the woods somewhere. I ran barefoot up to the highway and started to flag some cars down before I noticed the car that had already stopped ahead of me and the man coming from it. He had seen the accident occur, and in retrospect, he must have been surprised to see me running around like a crazy woman on the side of the interstate. He turned out to be a volunteer paramedic and was probably furious with me for moving after such trauma. He came back to the car, helped me inspect the damage and agreed that the kids were not going to be leaving the car through the doors. Several more people stopped--gave me blankets, a coat, helped pull the kids, then their car seats, slowly out through the passenger side window. They took us to the ambulance to check us out and wouldn't let us leave, despite my pleas for a cell phone. I was still in serious shock when we pulled away from the scene, and there are so many details lost: where I was, who had helped me, and most importantly, what that guard rail was in place to guard me from.

I was in West Virginia along route 68 when the accident happened...about 3.5 hours through a 7 hour trip back to Maryland from Dayton, OH. Matt was still in Dayton, and when he got my phone call, left the hospital immediately to come get us. When he did, we stuffed everything from the wrecked car into his car, knowing now that the car was totalled and that we wouldn't see it again. It was sobering to see the car sitting in the salvage lot, and even more sobering to watch the reaction of the people who had towed it. "you were inside that car when it crashed?" We wanted a picture, but couldn't find the camera in the mess.

We escaped with some seriously sore muscles and bruises, but nothing else. It was miraculous in so many ways--that everyone was wearing seat belts, that the car chose to veer off the road and not into other cars, that I fell off the road at, in seemed, the one section of West Virginia with no cliff, no river, no rocky outcropping. It was even miraculous in its own way, that technology has developed to make cars safe even faced with such a disaster. We were very lucky, and I'm still processing it all 2 months later. I'm still thinking about the things that God still wants me to do here.

So, we got a minivan to replace the sonata, because we were going to buy one in a year anyway. Now I'm a minivan mom who always, always, ALWAYS wears her seatbelt.


Rebecca said...

What a horrible accident! I'm glad you are all OK.

bclawson03 said...

How scary! I'm glad that everyone is alright!

Paul & Sarah said...

Oh, man! That is really terrifying. I love your "mom" narrative throughout it all. I could totally see myself thinking those same irrational thoughts. Glad to hear everyone is alright and that you have a new minivan!

Sarah said...

Hey Liz! It's Bunny, I stumbled on here through your facebook. I just wanted to say I'm glad you and your little ones are OK -- car accidents are scary. I had a nasty accident my senior year in college. I've got a metal rod in my leg now but the settlement from the other lady's insurance company is going to be a down payment on a townhouse so I guess you can look at the bright side.

Brightonwoman said...

I've only been in minor accidents and even in those seatbelts spared us injury...I don't care how much people complain about them, they are VITAL!
I'm so glad you're all ok!