Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Scariest Thing I've Ever Seen

Jamie and I decided to take a trip to Whole Foods this weekend, just for kicks. The nearest one is a good 30 minutes away down closer to Atlanta. On our way home, Anna fell asleep in the back of the car and Jamie and I were having a conversation that turned out to be a little eerie in retrospect. See, the last several times I've taken a road trip I've passed ridiculous traffic going the other direction. Crazy accidents and stuff that had the other lanes backed up for miles and miles. But I never seem to hit it myself. Saturday this happened again, and Jamie and I were cruising along on 85 North checking out the traffic on 85 South, joking about my strange gift.

Then all the sudden just in front of use to the right, I saw a red Chevy Blazer do something cars aren't supposed to do in the highway. I'm not even sure what I saw exactly, just that my brain knew something wasn't right about the way that car just moved. And before I could figure out what I had just seen Jamie said, "That just happened!" He quickly pulled over onto the shoulder and got out to see what was going on while I called 911. As I talked to the operator, turned around in my seat and looking out the back windshield I started to put it together.

On the shoulder was a very large John Deere tractor. And the Blazer had obviously smashed into it. I had the following conversation with the 911 operator:
"What vehicles were involved in the accident?"
"A red SUV, maybe a Chevy Blazer and a tractor"
"You mean a tractor trailer?"
"No, a tractor. A John Deere. Like they use on farms."
"What is that doing on the highway?"
"I have no idea"

In retrospect, the tractor was obviously there to do some sort of landscaping work on the shoulder. It had backed up a bit too far, crossed into the far right lane of traffic and the Blazer's driver either didn't see it or didn't have time to stop before hitting it.

It was ugly. The tractor tire, you know that ones that are as tall as me? it was completely smashed in. The front of the Chevy was crumpled. All the glass in the tractor cabin and front windows of the car was shattered. This didn't occur to me at the time, but Jamie later said he was pretty nervous walking up to it that neither driver would be alive. After I got off the phone I waved Jamie back to the car and told him help was on the way and asked him if he wanted me to see if I could do anything. My thinking was I have been trained in first aid and CPR. Those certifications are expired, but at least I know something. I way overestimated the usefulness of basic first aid and seriously underestimated the seriousness of the accident. Once I walked up to the cars, I realized there was absolutely nothing we could do except tell the drivers help was coming and try to keep them calm.

It was awful. And scary. Both drivers were conscious, but obviously seriously injured (Jamie told me later that the tractor driver was not conscious when he walked up and it took several minutes for him to come to). I've never felt so helpless.

The 10  minutes or so that we waited for emergency personnel to respond felt like a lifetime. I think Jamie and I were both so relieved to be headed home. Unfortunately, we've looked online and tried to find something about the accident but haven't been able to. So we don't know how either victim is doing.

I told Jamie last night the more time that goes by, the more disturbed I am by the whole thing. I had never considered what you're supposed to do in that sort of situation. It had never occured to me how awful the time between an accident happening and help arriving must be for those involved.

I'm seriously considering just staying home from now on.

1 comment:

Joel said...

That is scary! Hope you can find some follow up articles.