I typically spend my Saturdays with my Mother, who is 87 and has dementia, and lives in a lovely assisted living facility nearby. This Saturday, I took her to a local charity event created to raise funds for local High School kids who cannot afford to buy their own dresses, tuxedos, hair styles and makeup for their Senior Prom. Mom didn’t completely understand the concept, but she enjoyed the featured speaker, who happens to be my yoga instructor, and the fashion show, featuring beautiful girls in colorful dresses with their handsome escorts in suits and tuxedos. After the event, we went and had a nice lunch, and walked around our little historic square until she was tired and ready to go home.
We were driving south down a busy four-lane highway, when I saw a car behind me start to come around me on my left. All I saw was a man in a small car, traveling at a high speed, so I was really shocked when I saw him decelerate rapidly, then disappear from my peripheral vision, and even more shocked when the front right corner of his car hit the left rear quarter of ours.
“Oh my God, we are going to die”
This was the only thought in my mind, as I felt our car started spinning to the left, while still moving forward. We spun I don’t know how many times…banged across a raised median, spun some more, and ended up sitting four lanes from where we started, facing south into oncoming Northbound traffic. When the car came to a stop, we looked at each other, surprised to be alive. A couple in a convertible stopped in the shoulder next to us, and I rolled down the window and begged them to call 911 for us. I had to make sure my mother was OK, figure out if either of us were hurt, and I was in a panic and too many things were running through my mind. They stopped, and the woman got out, while talking to 911, and looked into the car to see if we were OK. A sheriff’s deputy from a nearby county stopped on the southbound side and came over to check as well. I could see the car that hit us, on the far side of the road, facing the wrong way as well, and a young man in a ragged white tank top was outside the car, talking on a cell phone.
The first deputy started directing traffic around us, since the car wouldn’t start, and I couldn’t move it out of the road. I had no idea at the time that three of the four wheels were totally out of commission, and one was actually folded under the car, which caused the rear end of the car to be jacked up in the air.
Mom was not in shock, but she was stunned. I first noticed that she was all wet, from a bottle of water that must have sprayed all over in the crash, and then that I was wet too. She said she was not hurt, and I just couldn’t believe it. Suddenly, there were 7 or 8 police cars, two ambulances, and a fire truck. A Georgia State Patrol officer came and told me he was taking charge of the investigation, and the EMTs checked Mom’s vital signs and checked her chest for fractures. She has osteoporosis and a lot of bone loss, but after the EMTs assessed her, we were all amazed that she seemed to only be bruised from the seat belt doing its job. After the EMTs checked on me, I got on the phone with our insurance carrier, to open a claim and get a tow truck sent.
At some point, one of the officers took off going south with lights and sirens blaring. It turns out that the driver that hit us took off on foot trying to evade arrest. They brought a printout with a picture of a man for me to identify the driver. Well, I had only seen him briefly in a fast moving car, and then from across 4 lanes of traffic, in the middle of a trauma, so I wasn’t sure it was the same man in the picture. Apparently he had been wanted for other offenses.
One tiny spot of humor happened when I opened the trunk to see what remained and the two State Patrol officers’ eyebrows went up as a strong smell of alcohol rose up, due to a bottle of red wine that didn’t survive the crash. We all laughed about how fortunate it was the wine was in the back so that we weren’t covered in red wine rather than water. It helped to relieve the tension for just a minute.
Meanwhile I had been trying to reach my husband, who was at work, as well as, close friends, to see if someone could come get us from the side of the highway. Since Murphy’s Law was apparently in play, when I reached my husband, he was tied up with an investigation into an accident that had happened on a motorcycle demo ride at work. Fortunately I was able to reach a friend, as the investigation was winding down, to pick us up shortly. The EMTs were so kind, they helped me gather all the items out of the car, including the shopping I had done before picking up Mom, and then they took us to a nearby fire station to wait for our friend.
We were waiting in one of the ambulances when the State Patrol officer came to tell me that they had captured the driver that hit us, and asked if we would wait until they brought him back to the scene for me to identify him. Of course we waited, and I had a chance to really take in the state of Mom’s Toyota Camry that saved our lives. It was staggering and I could not contain the tears and the shaking. I had kept it together long enough to assess our status and get the claim open, plus give my account of what had happened two or three different times. Now I lost it.
They gave me time to compose myself and then brought the guy in the white tank top to stand in front of the ambulance. It was absolutely the same man that I had seen across the road right after the accident. State Patrol didn’t give me all the details, but they did tell me that he was a very bad man, and he would be charged with a number of offenses in addition to causing our accident, and was going away for a long time. I guess that is some consolation. But nothing compares to the fact that Mom and I both escaped horrible injury, or possibly death, from this terrifying experience. The fact that we walked away from careening across 4 lanes of a very busy Georgia highway, didn’t hit any oncoming traffic, and only had minor bruising was indeed a miracle!
P.S. I did not even think about taking pictures of the car until after the fact. These awful images were taken at the tow lot, on Sunday evening.
The front of the car, as it landed