Anatomy of an Accident

Forgive me readers, but I cannot post, as promised, about my weekend eats. For the most part, I stuck to plan, but there were stress-related handfuls of jelly beans, Dove chocolate eggs and a large caffeinated iced coffee with half and half and my sister’s homemade Kahlua.

Evan and I drove to my family’s house in Connecticut as planned Saturday. Not as planned was having my car totalled by a careless and young driver who attempted to pass a car on a two-lane undivided highway in a no passing zone. We were less than 10 miles from my parent’s house. Maybe 3-5 miles from my grandparent’s house. He didn’t see us coming around the curve. I managed to pull towards the side of the road to avoid a head-on collision and I think the other driver attempted to return to his own lane, realized he wasn’t fully past the car he was passing and swerved back towards me, overcompensating and t-boning us. (Pictures below–more forthcoming.)

After that, almost everything occurred in slow motion. The front and side airbags deflated in a big pouf of dust and white fabric. We spun at least once and seemed to keep going forward forever, but managed to stay in our own lane (avoiding getting hit again) and finally stopping, perfectly straight facing in the direction we were heading and pulled to the side of the road.

Evan had been sleeping and fully reclined in his chair. Although this could have been terribly unsafe if he were hit on his side, it was definitely part of the reason why he ended up with only a sore elbow and not a back or head injury from smacking his head against his side window.

The glass in both windows on my side of the car shattered into tiny pebbles, but the side airbags protected me from any serious cuts. The windshield on Evan’s side of the window cracked from the impact and possible damage to the frame of the car. The moonroof stayed fully intact.

My side view mirror was hanging by a wire, my door jammed shut, the rear driver’s side door crumbled like a set of miniblinds but amazingly not buckled in. The rear driver’s side wheel lay at a 45 degree angle (suggesting a broken axle) with the brake line hanging and the bumper shorn off.

From the passenger side of the car, it looked okay. The driver’s side looked like my car died protecting us.

My injuries were so very fortunately minimal. We practically landed in the front yard of an EMT who quickly assessed the situation and determined that I needed to sit in the dirt on the side of the road as she kept my cervical spine stable and we waited for the ambulance. (Thanks, Kim!) She had been sitting in her living room in her bathrobe, getting ready for work. The crash was so loud that I had ringing in my left ear for the next two days. I got my very first ride in the back of an ambulance, strapped down to on a back board with a collar and all sorts of  medical equipment keeping me from moving and further damaging any potential back or neck injuries. Fortunately, I walked away with a very bruised arm, some very small cuts on my left hand, sore and bruised hips, collarbone, knees and ankles. Oh–and I lost some hair when they took the collar off, not realizing that my hair was velcro-ed to the collar. Somehow, I ended up picking glass out of my jeans and hair–and even found a sizable piece in my bra, despite wearing a slim-fitting tee and hoodie. That’s it. We survived. Thank you Honda, airbags, seatbelts and whatever safety features are in my car that I don’t even know or understand, but that worked like only the best scientists and engineers could have ever imagined.

The guy that hit us also careened into a car behind us. While one of the passengers was also brought to the hospital, the other (like Evan) walked away not needing medical attention.

From my understanding, the guy that hit us ended pinned in his car, requiring the Jaws of Life and a very expensive Life Star trip to the hospital but was released from the hospital before the end of the weekend. His car was totalled–the only thing that stopped him from bowling down more cars was getting his car trapped in a wire guardrail.

Important note: he was driving a 1992 car with airbags. They didn’t deploy, even though the circumstances of the accident (force of impact, location of damage) should have set them off. Some manufacturers say you should get your airbags checked in a car that’s 10 years or older, to ensure they still work. Please consider consulting with your mechanic or car dealer to see if you need to do this.

He told the State Trooper that he had a blow out and lost control of the car.

I told the Trooper that I saw the entire accident happening and it appeared to me that he was trying to pass another car, in a no passing zone on a curve and simply didn’t see us coming.

Monday’s edition of the local paper splashed the story about the accident–photos and names, included–all over the front page. (Unfortunately, we had neglected to tell my 90-something year old great grandmother about the accident, so she found out from the local paper–not good, but she’s spunky enough to give the family hell for it.) Apparently, my statement to the Trooper was heard. The kid who caused the accident was given a misdemeanor summons for reckless driving and passing in a no passing zone.

Aside from a brief crying jag moments after the accident, I’ve tried to keep this light. I joked with my sister that I found a way to get out of the outdoor run with her on Sunday morning (instead we went walking, which did wonders for the stiffness). I’ve joked that the accident saves me from having to schedule an oil change this week and wash my car. I’ve joked that my cortisol levels were surely elevated now! I make fun of the fact that now I’m driving a rental minivan and would be willing to bring friends’ kids to their soccer practices, if needed.

In reality, this isn’t all that funny. I keep having nightmares about rear ending my own car. My beloved 2009 Honda Civic only had 21,000 miles. I will likely learn later this week that it’s totalled, which means negotiating with the insurance company and Honda (the lien holder, as I’ve only paid off 1/3 of the car) a fair payment so I can replace it.

However, more than anything, I am so, so, SO thankful that everyone is okay, and I’m making a super-strong effort to be back on track life-wise, today. Last night, once I was back at my own apartment and alone, I wanted to binge eat the house. I had to go grocery shopping and needed to put blinders on to ignore the calls of salty chips, Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies and ice cream. Instead, I got what I needed, I impulse-bought strawberries because they looked good and were on sale and I went home.

Today: I’m working on wrapping up some of the many lose ends the accident left me, I’m eating on plan, I’m going walking and I’m planning out my week.

Tomorrow: I return to work and possibly to the gym.

Here are some pictures from this crazy turn of events:

See that little airbag that appears to be coming out of my seat? It probably saved me from fracturing my arm or shoulder. Instead, it just gave me a nasty bruise.

This is the rear driver's side wheel and rear bumper.

Those side airbags look like miniblinds!

This is a close up of the damage to the rear driver's side door. Things that amaze me: the door didn't crumple IN (so the person in the backseat would have been protected) even though the door was ripped from the bottom hinge.

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13 responses to “Anatomy of an Accident

  1. OMFG T… thank feck your alive!

  2. holy crap!! I’m so glad you’re all ok!!!

  3. YIKES! Thank goodness you (and everyone else involved) is ok! Hopefully dealing with your insurance company won’t be too much of a hassle. I have an ’07 civic – so this makes me feel like my car is as safe as the dealer told me. Way to go, Honda!

  4. Wow!! Good to hear you’re okay, along with everyone else. Was the other driver insured, or does it all go through your UM/UIM?

  5. Oh my god, Tina! So glad you and Evan are okay!!! What a jackass driver. I sure hope he learns his lesson about driving recklessly. Someone could have very easily lost his or her life to this accident.

    Again, so happy you guys are okay! Good luck recovering, and remember to take it easy even though the flame to live your fullest life is clearly burning brightly. 🙂

  6. Wow that sounds so scary! I am glad to hear you are ok and being positive about the situation.

  7. Thanks everyone!

    Carina: the other driver was insured, but that doesn’t mean his insurance will cover the whole accident. Most people have $50,000 property insurance through their auto policy. When you total a new car (even if it is just a Honda Civic), damage another one and total your own car, that coverage runs out pretty quickly, especially since Connecticut is NOT a no-fault state.

    It’s all going through my insurance first. Connecticut State Police are months behind on their cases and the other guy damaged 2 cars, which tends to seriously slow down processing. I need wheels, so Geico will assess my car, issue my reimbursement and go after the other guy’s insurance.

    I suspect this means that Geico could theoretically increase my rates, but if they do, I’ll try to fight it since Geico said “you clearly were not at fault.”

    I’m with you Lauren… I REALLY hope he learns the importance of driving more safely. I’m sure he was freaked out by the accident–getting pinned in your car, having a wire guardrail nearly shear off your front end and getting a Life Star tour of Connecticut can’t be fun!

  8. Pingback: God Said “Ha!” « Downsized!

  9. OMG I am so happy that you are safe and OK!

  10. Your rates should be okay since the claim will reflect subrogation, regardless of whether the “bad guy”‘s policy limits are exhausted. I was in a hit and run with witnesses in 05 and the police eventually got photos of the wrecked vehicle parked in front of the driver’s home (though of course he claimed it was from a different accident that he never reported), I did the same as you — through my insurance first and then they dealt with subrogation. I got my deductible back about a year later when the process was finally resolved (100% in my favor). It was a lot of follow-up phone calls to ensure my claim was still moving forward, I also made calls every 2 weeks to the police to confirm that the charges against him (failure to stop and render aid, unlawful lane change, etc.) were pursued. But it all worked out eventually, and I fortunately didn’t have any meds to worry about getting reimbursed.

  11. Oh my gosh! I am so glad that your and your bf are ok. That’s the most important thing. I am so sorry that this happened, and hope dealing with the insurance, etc. is a painless process.

  12. That sucks! I admire your positive outlook on the situation and ability to joke and laugh about it. Glad you and the bf are okay, and nobody else was seriously injured.

    I’m curious to know….did you get your hot dog?

  13. ohhhhh! Hella yeah!

    We got to the hot dog place just before the lunch rush (about 1-2 hours before the accident) and enjoyed our Chicago dogs and split an order of fries then admired all the Guy Fieri paraphernalia from his Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives visit. We’d definitely go back, but it was too indulgent to make a habit out of it 🙂

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