On my way to church on Wednesday night, I was involved in a BAD car accident (not that any car accident is good, of course). Wednesdays are my long days. It was my first day with my new Wednesday schedule: go in to work from 8-5, go to class 6-7:15, go to church from 7:30 to approximately 9:00-9:30pm, and get home (probably with fast food in hand) at approximately 10pm. Instead of this happening, a series of unfortunate events:
My boss let me leave a few minutes early so I wouldn’t be late. I immediately went to campus, parked in visitor’s parking, and set about finding the bookstore before class. I found it, but didn’t have my id to purchase the book. I went back to my car for my bag, but still couldn’t find the ID and didn’t have time to look for it. I decided I would just buy the digital book while I walked to class. The bookstore’s registration page wasn’t working properly on my phone, so I gave up. Luckily, we didn’t really need the book for the class. Even though I would be late to church, I wanted to get the book before I left campus (I found my ID in my class notebook). I went to the bookstore, now a LOT emptier, rented the book, got a little lost on campus, finally found my car and started out.
I was talking to my mom on the phone as I was driving down a major road that leads to the interstate (I’ll call it Straight Road), telling her about my class and that I was going to church. “You’re still going to try to go?” she said. “It’s late.” “Yeah, but I still want to go and catch what I can.” As I come to where Straight Road intersects with (what we’ll call) Broad Way, the light is green. I am going the speed limit, as the last couple lights have been green and I haven’t had to stop. This intersection has turn lanes with arrows because there’s a popular shopping area on one side and a row of restaurants (including a Chick-Fil-A) on the other side. Since my light to continue straight was green, the left turn lane coming in the opposite direction was red. Unfortunately, when I was less than a block away from the intersection, someone turned from that left turn lane RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. I only had time to press my brakes and say “Oh my God” before impact.
It’s funny how time can seem to slow down, how much clearer details can become. It’s like in the movie Big Fish where the main character talks about seeing the love of his life for the first time: time stops, but then it seems like when time starts again, it speeds up to catch up. I saw (and still see) the side of that Jeep in my headlights slowing coming closer and closer. I feel the impact push me forward and my seatbelt jerk me back. I see the Jeep turn over, landing with the driver’s side down, my car crunched to the underside of their vehicle. I don’t remember my airbags deploying, just seeing the deflated bags and the haze of the powder in the air. My phone had hung up on my mom before impact; when I spoke to her a few minutes later, she said she thought I told her to hold on and had clicked over. I’m forever thankful my poor mom didn’t hear that deafening squealing, crunching, and hissing.
I got out and called to the people in the Jeep. I looked back at the still green light, dazed. At times like this, you wonder if you’re dreaming, or if you did something wrong. Was the light green for me? Did it change and I was distracted? What really just happened?
The people in the Jeep are talking. An SUV that was traveling the same way as I was stops to help. People run from the Chick-Fil-A and the gas station, one already on the phone with the police. I am dazed. I call Mr. Perfect, who is at church. No answer. I intend to call my mom, but mistakenly call him again. He picks up and I tell him what happened. I go to my car and grab my purse and canvas bag. By this time, my arm and leg are stinging from their contact with the hydraulic powder on the airbags. The police and fire trucks are there within 5 minutes.
Three of the four people have been pulled from the SUV. People are being interviewed by the police. I’m standing off to the side with my bags, alternately trying to get things out of my vehicle. I see coolant leaking and smoke rising from my hood. I try to get the key out of the ignition, but the steering column has locked on it. My New Orleans keychain of Mr. Perfect and I at the Audobon Aquarium has shattered into pieces and the picture is nowhere to be found. I can’t lift anything else out as my right arm is starting to ache and I can’t hold anything with it. Some witnesses spot me and ask if I am OK.
The police officer gets my name, driver’s license, and where I am coming from before being pulled away. Another asks me briefly what happened and if I have been checked out by EMS. Two witnesses come over to me, helping me with my bags. One is an ER nurse. “It’s OK. It’s clear you weren’t at fault. Several people saw them run the read light and turn in front of you. They’ve all been drinking, too. You should get you a lawyer. I’m surprised there isn’t one out here handing out cards already.” She suggests I call a popular law firm here. “You should get your arm checked out. That looks like it might be fractured. I can’t say for sure; there isn’t an X-Ray machine out here, but I’m an ER Nurse, and it looks really bad. Let me see your other arm…yes, see how it is started to curve out right there? That’s either a deformity from a fracture or really bad swelling.”
I’m getting a little giddy and overwhelmed looking around at all the flashing lights and the firemen stabilizing the jeep so they can get the last passenger out. One of the passengers comes up to me. “Are you OK? Yeah, sorry about that. He cut out in front of you like that. I wasn’t driving, though. It’s my birthday today. We been out celebrating. This isn’t anyway to celebrate, though.” He looks around. “That’s my old lady they still tryin’ to get out.” He turns and introduces himself to the witnesses that were helping me. The firemen have got out “the jaws of life” to begin removing the top of the Jeep to pull the woman out.
I’m finally led over to the Fire Response truck to be examined. My arm is put in a makeshift sling and my vitals are taken. They want to take me to the hospital. I ask them to look for my phone. Mr. Perfect is on his way and I’ll need to tell him what hospital I’m being taken to so he can meet me. As if by my request, Mr. Perfect appears just outside of the truck. I ask him to get the things out of my car and they pass on the hospital information. I talk to my little brother on the way to the hospital. The fireman riding with me shows me a picture of my car that makes me queasy. “You’re car did exactly what it was supposed to do,” he says. It’s a good thing you had on your seatbelt, too.”
The car is totaled. After hours at the hospital, I learn my forearm isn’t fractured, but I have bad contusions there, as well as powder burns from the airbags to my chest and shins, along with some bruises. I’m given a prescription and sent home (which is, ironically, right next door).
The bad news: my car (which I received the title to on Monday), is totaled. When I paid off the car, I lowered the insurance. I just asked what they could do to lower it now that it was paid for. They took off collision (bad move), and the portion that would have paid me for missing work for a couple days (even worse move). Since the other driver was at fault (and breathalized/arrested at the scene), they can contact his insurance company and get a settlement from them, but I couldn’t choose to go through them, get my money faster, and let them subrogate against the other insurance company. I don’t have a car and my have to drop my class if I can’t get transportation to class on Wednesdays (Mr. Perfect works 10-6 on the other side of the Metro area). I have no coverage to get a rental car under my policy. I don’t think my credit is good enough yet for me to get a decent interest rate on a car, or even be able to get a car from a reputable dealer.
The good news: I’m alive and my injuries aren’t that bad. My insurance coverage does still include uninsured motorist, so even if they don’t have insurance, my medical deductible and bills will be covered. I paid off the car, so my credit is a bit better than the last time I had to look at cars. Fault has already been proven and I was not at fault. No one was seriously injured. I heard from a great many people who were concerned about me. I got to see who really cared. All of my things were taken from my vehicle (this was an issue at the last accident a few years ago; lost some great music and important papers). I no longer have to renew my registration, and I’m dropping my insurance down to basic, so I’ll save money (I’ll take whatever I can get).
This post is already way too long, but I want to think everyone that prayed, called, texted, and showed concern for me. By God’s grace and mercy, I am healing and will be fine. I’m confident He will see me through the upcoming weeks and bring me out of them as well. I may not have wanted to be in this particular moment, but going through bad times really makes you appreciate and savor the good times. If I’ve gained anything from this experience so far, it’s the knowledge that I have truly tasted and seen that the Lord is good for myself (Psalm 34:8). Be blessed everyone.