I just walked away from one of the worst freeway car accidents I've ever seen, let alone been in. I feel so lucky, so blessed and protected, but so sad. I have painful burns and bruises on my right arm in a few different places from, of all things, the chemicals that detonate the air bags, that along with my seat belt probably saved my life. I have cuts and bruises all along my left hip and leg from slamming into the car door as my car spun around and around in crazy late night traffic. Late night Pearl Jam concert traffic. I have a headache from the bump on the side of my head where it hit the window. My left foot was bandaged by the incredibly kind, (Aren't they always kind and heroic?), firemen/paramedics who picked all of the glass out of my foot and then cleaned and wrapped it for me. I've reburied my bad elbow, the one I fractured a few weeks ago, when I walked into a parking meter. My car is...well, you can see how my car is.
But none of this compares to how worried I am for the man who I hit, the man who for some inexplicable reason had stopped sideways on the northbound 405 freeway and got out of his car. I tried to avoid him, everyone tried to avoid him, but we all ended up hitting each other and skidding all over the place, and then while I was spinning, I think I hit him. All I know is that he was pinned under his car, pinned under his car and bleeding. I'm crying as I write this. Please pray for him. He's at UCLA right now and no one will, or can, tell me anything about his condition, other than that he is stable. I called to tell him I was praying for him and so sorry for whatever part of this may be my fault.
I dropped off Beau at his rock and roll band camp yesterday, and then because he had forgotten a few things that he needed me to pick up for him at the store, I ended up spending the night again so I could do that for him today. I stayed up late last night, as usual, and because I got a late start today, I was seriously considering staying another night. I so wanted to go scuba diving, or at least snorkeling in La Jolla Cove. I went shopping at Target. I was happy with the deals I got. And then afterwards, in the parking lot, I saw this maniac woman nearly hit a gorgeous little girl twice. She was so evil, this woman, and she just stalked off like we were being unreasonable when she's screeched by this little girl who had to jump out of the way. I stayed and tried to comfort her and her Mom until the security guys came. I gave them my side of the story and then left.
I drove to the University of San Diego where Beau is, dropped off his things and talked with him for a while. Then, in order to avoid the traffic coming home, I went to the mall to see Pirates. I stopped at a Mexican restaurant, ordered cheese enchiladas to go, and played with a really cute Shitzu named, I don't remember what he was named. Then I got gas, some tea and snacks, tuned in George Noory and headed for home. One hundred and three miles to go, two hours if the traffic is light.
I was almost home, driving at the same rate of speed as the rest of the drivers, probably going about sixty-five or seventy mph when it happened. I was in the fast lane. The cemetery where my Grandparents and my Father are buried was off to my right, the Bridge theatres were to my left, and I was so relieved to be almost home. I hate driving long distances in freeway traffic. I was listening to George Noory on Coast to Coast AM. He was interviewing an extremely conservative Catholic Brother who was talking about how he dislikes "guitar music at mass and women all over the altar." Fanatic woman hating dogmatic jerk. I was seriously disliking this guy and thinking about the Catholic Church, feeling protective of it because this man was attacking, "The 'so called' modern Catholic Church." I was just thinking about how much I miss it, miss going to mass, and was thinking that I would like to go to mass again, but was worrying about how Scott would feel about this because his ex-wife has kind of become fanatic and hurt him when she had their marriage annulled, so I didn't want him to think I was going down the same path. I was thinking about God, and mass, and the Church, when the whole thing happened.
It all happened so suddenly, and then I was in such a state of shock, that it's really hard to remember it clearly. What I do remember is that I was driving along when suddenly I saw this car stopped ahead of us. It was at a dead stop, perpendicular to all of this fast moving freeway traffic. Cars were swerving all over the place to avoid this car. There was one car ahead of me that had slowed suddenly and swerved left to miss the stopped car. In order to avoid hitting him I turned my wheel to the left and passed this car, then had to turn right to avoid hitting another car. As I did this, I lost control of my car. It went into an uncontrolled spin, and somewhere in the spinning I hit someone, the airbags went off, the car filled with smoke, someone hit me, and I remember trying to steer against the spinning to try to slow it. I learned this years ago, to turn against the spin in order to get control of the car again.
I must have spun five times or more, the car just kept going 'round and 'round until it finally came to a grinding halt. I ended up facing the opposite direction with all of the oncoming freeway traffic heading for me. Can you imagine facing oncoming speeding LA freeway traffic in a crushed car? Through the windshield, through the smoke, I watched helplessly as cars swerved right and left and smashed into each other, bumpers, tires, glass and metal hurtling everywhere. It was horrifying, but weirdly, throughout all of this part of the accident I felt kind of calm. I thought I might die and I accepted that I would be okay no matter what happened.
Then there were people, angels, who came to help me, but I was stuck in the car. In the pictures my door looks okay, but it was stuck and they couldn't open it to get me out. They were worried because liquids were pouring out of the engine and more cars were coming. I finally shook off the state I was in and began kicking at the door until I forced it open. My shoes had flown off so I stepped right out and into shattered glass. But everyone was worrying about my car exploding or our being hit by more cars so they pulled me away to their car. These guys were so nice to me, I can't ever thank them enough.
The worst part of all of this though was the car I think I hit. No one is sure yet because there were quite a few people who took off. I know there were so many more cars involved that split. And some people said they though the whole chain of events were started by two trucks that were racing, crashed, and somehow made this other car crash. I don't know. I honestly don't know and I am so praying that I am not responsible for this poor man who was injured because how could I live with myself if I was? He was pinned under his car, bleeding and moaning. I couldn't even get to him because I was shaking so badly. I couldn't walk. And the people who were helping me wouldn't let me cross the freeway to get over to where he was.
It seemed like ages before the police and paramedics were finally able to get to us. In the meantime all I could do was look over helplessly at this completely smashed car, praying that the people over there would be all right and that it wasn't my fault. All I could see was the back of the car and so many people bending down trying to help this man. Someone told me that they actually lifted the car right off of him. They were talking about accidents and adrenaline, adrenaline that helps you lift cars off people. Most of the people there had just got out of the Pearl Jam concert. Two of these guys, who had nothing to do with the accident, were so good to me. They risked their lives to try to save mine. They ran over to me in speeding swerving traffic to help me get out of my car. They stayed and helped me get my stuff out of my car and kept checking on me. One of these guys stayed by me, checking on me, the entire time, and even offered to give me a ride home. There were other guys there too, mostly guys, and they were also really nice. So I've just learned the hard way that people who like Pearl Jam are pretty good people.
Funny, I'm listening to Coast to Coast now, as I write this, and it's come full circle to the part where it repeats and this is about where I was when the accident happened.
I'm fine. I'm lucky. I'm so lucky. I think God was looking out for me. It wasn't my time. There were angels. But I am so praying the man who was injured will be okay, that none of his injuries are permanent. I wish I could go to the ER and hold his hand or comfort his family, but everyone gets so weird and lawsuit happy after accidents that you can't do this kind of thing. I couldn't even get the hospital to tell me if he was alive or dead, but the police and paramedics told me he was stable when the ambulance took him away, they didn't use their siren, and reading between the lines as I spoke to the woman who answered the phone at the ER, I know that he's alive. I'm hoping he isn't as bad off as I'm afraid he might be.