Do you ever feel as shaken by a near incident as you do by an actual incident? Or, rather, do you ever feel shaken when you watch something happen to someone else, even though you are perfectly fine?
It's been a little wet here lately, with temperatures dancing around freezing. Yesterday temperatures dipped a bit and we got some sleet/snow stuff and by evening there was a thin layer of ice on the roads and sidewalks.
Matt, Harper, Michael and I had dinner with Matt's parents. Matt and Harper had been out together in the afternoon so Michael and I met them at Mike and Ann's late yesterday afternoon. We had a nice dinner together and then left Harper to spend the night. Matt took the bags (Michael's things, leftover food) in his car and I took Michael with me, leaving a few minutes after Matt.
The drive between Mike and Ann's and our house takes place primarily on one road - which is both hilly and curvey.
I was driving especially slowly on the way home, having skidded a bit just coming to a slow stop in Mike and Ann's subdivision. As I was on the main road to our house, coming down a hill, I saw a van coming from the other direction try to make a left turn. It was one of those times when you can tell exactly what is about to happen. The van took the turn way too fast and, as it crossed the road in front of me, the back of the van kept sliding until it was facing the wrong way and slid off the road, flipping over and landing on its side.
It was already dark and I have a very clear image in my head of the van's headlights as I drove past.
I pulled over, put on my hazards, and shakily called 911. I am sure three or four other people were doing the exact same thing, but I figured better they get several calls about the accident than none. I explained where we were and what I'd seen. The 911 operator asked me if the driver had been injured. I told him I couldn't tell, but the van was laying on its side with the driver's side up in the air. The operator said, "Okay, we'll send someone out there." And that was it.
I did not want to leave the car with Michael inside and there wasn't really a shoulder where we were parked, so it didn't seem safe to stay there long. I did try to hollar back to other cars that had stopped that I had called 911 - I have no idea whether anyone heard me.
I can't stop thinking about that van...
What happened so quickly in front of me might have felt like one of those horrible slow-motion movie shots to the person (or people) in that van. I have no idea whether anyone was injured or how quickly help arrived. I have no idea if there is something else I could or should have done to help. It is strange to me that I'll never know the end of that story. It isn't like I can call 911 back and ask what happened.
So, amid many other things whirling around our life these days, that accident is what's stuck in my head tonight.