Sunday, December 18, 2011

A serious car accident, and we were able to help along with a lot of good people

It's a dark night tonight with no moon, icy roads, and a thin sheen of snow on the roads her in Michigan.

My wife and I were on our way home, driving North on I-75 through Flint, MI. I was at the wheel, and the road conditions had me driving well under the speed limit. My wife was sleeping in the passenger seat.

There are four lanes of traffic on that part of I-75. There was an accident. I saw two cars on the right side of the road, one on the shoulder, and pulled over to the far left lane. I was looking at the wreckage to see if others had stopped and if anyone was calling for assistance. There were other cars stopped, so I decided to keep moving rather than risk blocking traffic. I think I was moving at about 20 mph at that point.

On my right another car barreled by. I don't know how fast that driver was going. I can tell you she didn't hit the brakes.

She rammed one of the cars on the right, about twenty feet in front of our car. Sparks flew. It was horrific. I parked our car, no longer questioning whether or not we should stop. My wife woke up and I said, "There's been a bad accident and we're stopping to help." She agreed immediately.

I got out of the car and started walking toward the vehicle that was hit. It was now on my left, on its wheels, but sideways across the lanes. As I approached it, I saw a man bent over something in the road.

The something wasn't a thing at all, it was a someone. His girlfriend, as it turned out. She was lying facedown on the pavement.

I had a sinking feeling that she was dead. How could she not be?

She's not dead. I thought traffic was still coming at us, so I looked at the other man and said, "Let's get her out of the road before someone hits her."

We touched her and a woman behind me said, "Do not move her!" I didn't argue with her. I looked at the oncoming traffic and saw that my wife and another man--bravely--had stopped all other traffic. Several others were already on cell phones, speaking to 911 operators.

My wife (who has better and more up-to-date first aid training than I do) was at the woman's side, on the ground in the middle of I-75, along with several others. I went to the car that had been hit and flung, and looked inside to see if there were any other victims. The car was empty.

Then I went to the car that hit that one. The driver was a young woman, maybe 20-25 years old. She was shaken. A man had just finished speaking to her and he passed by me and said, "She thinks she killed that lady in the road. I told her she didn't."

The driver of that car, that young woman, was hysterical. I got her to calm down enough to be able to tell me if she was okay or not. She got the message that she hadn't killed anyone, and wanted to know about damage to her car. I don't blame her much for that. She was desperately trying to wrap her brain around something, anything, and she settled on asking about her car.

I took a look at the hood and said, "Your car is totaled, but I want you to look out the windshield at the woman on the ground. She's not dead, but she's not okay. Your car? It's the least of your worries. Are you okay? Are you hurt?"

"I'm okay."
"She's not dead. Breathe. Stay here. Don't get out of the car until EMT's check you out. Got it?"
She did.

Fortunately (and by that I mean the Hand of God was all over the place and quite present tonight), the accidents happened not far from a Michigan State Police post. Within just a few minutes, ambulances and police were on their way.

According to the boyfriend of the woman in the road, they were involved in an accident, and he got out of the car to check on the other driver. His girlfriend was driving their car, and she was about to get out and offer assistance as well. She unfastened her seatbelt...his door, the passenger door was open...

I went back to the woman in the road, and a man was saying a prayer of thanks over her, and I thought that was appropriate and a good thing to do. He said he's a doctor, and that she's lucky. He couldn't check her out thoroughly, but said her arm was broken and her shoulder was dislocated, but she wasn't paralyzed. I knew she wasn't paralyzed because I put a blanket over her feet (her shoes flew off when she was thrown from the car), and she moved her legs when I did that. Others had already covered her with coats and blankets from their cars.

It was about an hour between when we came upon the accident and when we were turned around and allowed to proceed, slowly, home.

I'll probably never know the names of anyone involved in that terrible thing, but I know this: there are a lot of good people on this beautiful world of ours. We all make mistakes and accidents happen, but it helps a little to know that there are a lot of good people who will do a lot, risk a lot, to help their fellow human beings when they're in trouble.

Merry Christmas! Drive safely.

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