My Second Potentially Fatal Accident

For the second time in my life, I walked away from what could have been a fatal accident. Saturday night I was on the way home from my son’s basketball tournament. It had been raining hard for some time. As I passed the entrance to an interstate rest stop, I saw a car stopped along the right side of the road up ahead. Then I notice a wrecked car in the median to my left. I hit my brakes just slightly to slow down, but when I did the Pilot immediately went sideways, and then began to spin me in circles. I rode the brakes and turned the wheel, but I had no control over the vehicle. The next moment I was heading backwards. I felt like I was heading right for the parked car to the right. I relaxed, preparing for the inevitable. I was either going to crash into the wrecked car, run into the parked car, go into the ditch and flip, or go into the ditch and slam into a tree on the other side.

Being in this situation for the second time (I was rear-ended and flipped a couple of years ago while pulling into my driveway), I do know that your life doesn’t pass before your eyes. I wasn’t thinking about anything but the wreck and what was happening. It’s like being on an amusement park ride for the first time. But the one thing that was true in both situations was that everything seemed to be in slow motion. My friends who were far enough behind me not to be involved in the wreck but saw it happen said the Pilot spun around and around, and then shot across the road. There was no shooting from my vantage point.

Even though I tried desperately to control the vehicle, I did relax my body. Drunk drivers survive wrecks because they don’t tense up. I’ve always said that I would try not to tense up in that situation, and for the second time, I held true to that belief. At some point during the spinning, the wheels caught some traction, and even though I was riding the brakes, I apparently shot across the interstate. I’d missed the wrecked car and had missed the parked car. I headed down the embankment toward the ditch, so I was set to meet the trees on the other side. The pilot hit the ditch and went a little ways up the opposite embankment and came to a stop.

I had missed the wrecked car, the parked car, the flipping, and the trees. The Pilot was still running and the airbags didn’t deploy. I sat for a moment and looked about me. Everything was okay. I opened the door and looked around me for any danger. The man who had stopped to help the other wrecked car was there to check on me. My friends had stopped to check on me. A sheriff’s deputy, on his way for the other wreck, soon stopped as other deputies stopped the traffic and diverted it through the rest stop. Everyone was okay. No ambulance was needed for anyone.

I put the Pilot in 4-wheel drive and tried to drive it up the other side of the ditch, but it just spun in the mud. When the tow truck arrived, he first pulled me out of the ditch before loading the other car. The man in the other car made his way to me and took my information so that he could pay for any fee from the tow truck and for anything that was wrong with the Pilot. Nothing was wrong with the Pilot. After a bumpy ride to a car wash, I cleaned caked mud out of the rims and the Pilot drove like nothing had happened. My lower back was sore the next day, but I believe it was from sitting at basketball games all day and not from the wreck.

When I think of everything that could have happened in that situation, I am amazed that things turned out the way they did. What if there had been another car driving around me? What if there had been a semi beside me or behind me? What if I had hit the man in the wrecked car? What if I had hit the man who had stopped to help? What if I had flipped? What if I had slammed into a tree? What if? What if? What if? What if I drove into the ditch, stopped short of the trees, and had no damage to the vehicle or myself? That didn’t cross my mind when I was preparing for the worst.

I don’t know why I was able to walk away, or why things worked out the way they did. I count my blessings that I was able to come home to my family. For the second time, my life could have been cut short from a car accident, but it wasn’t. I’m not going to be haunted by “what if” questions. My question is – what will I do with the time that has been granted me? Carpe diem, my friend. Carpe diem.