Sunday, February 22, 2009

What I Can't Stop Thinking About

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.

8 comments:

Astarte said...

Oh, thank heavens it didn't take you with it!!! Of COURSE it's stuck in your mind! And I'll bet you're right, it probably was slow motion for the people inside. I'll bet you can check your local paper and find out what happened, and if there's nothing in there, that probably means that the people were fine. I don't know what I would have done - if there's nowhere to pull off, and you have a child in the car, it's really dangerous to stop and get out. How scary.

Giselle said...

Oh no! I am really really glad nothing happened to you (although I was thinking that would be ONE way to get a mini-van). It is hard to not know what happened...I imagine it would be a bit haunting. I think checking the paper is a good idea.

My only similar mental experience was Lily's birth. I was so traumatized and so HAUNTED by it. I couldn't close my eyes to sleep without being brought back into those terrifying moments. The first few nights after she was born were really horrifying for me. But it faded. (Until 18 months later someone made me do it again with no drugs...but it was not so bad). It will fade for you as well.

Again, so glad you are okay! Hopefully that driver is too. People can walk away from pretty horrific car crashes!

jill said...

wow. thats scary. we have seen several accidents and my husband called 911. we also were behind an inebriated or drunk or not paying attention driver, and happened to follow them because we were going the same directon, until they were stopped by the police. but i am very freaked out by visual stimuli (those pan over shots of new york on the law and order shows, barf city)... so i can imagine...

Emily said...

Ugh - that's so scary!

When I was in high school, I was on my way to work to wait tables, and I was stopped at a red light and saw a pedestrian get hit by a car. It was awful, he rolled up on the windshield and then got thrown into the intersection. It was a busy intersection, and MANY people immediately got out of their cars to help, including one woman in scrubs who seemed to know what she was doing. So I continued on to work where I had a huge emotional breakdown. That vision has played over in my mind hundreds of times, and I have always wondered if that guy was ok. Those kinds of things can shake you up pretty well! I'm glad you guys are ok and hopefully they are too.

Pam said...

Isn't it awful when you see it happening but can't do anything to stop it. I hope you find out if they are okay - if you do. let us know.

Nan said...

That is so very scary. I'll say a prayer.

Swistle said...

I'm so glad they didn't hit YOU!! And I, too, always wish to know what happened.

Anonymous said...

I know in Missouri if you do a search for Missouri Highway Reports it pulls up a website for you to look at...maybe they have one for you!