the story of my drive home from boston

as alluded to in yesterday’s blog, I had a scary experience on my drive back from Boston. I’m sorta at a point where I feel comfortable writing about it, so here goes: The drive itself isn’t too difficult, it’s about six and a half hours of thruway driving. However, even on the thruway things happen that are beyond your control. About four and a half hours in, outside of Rome NY, we (and when I write “we” I mean myself and everyone on that section of the thruway) were hit by a torrential downpour. We’re talking biblical proportions.

Side Note:What I have never been able to understand, and this time was no different, are the people who don’t slow down to a safe speed under these conditions. And based on this experience, I will never again push my luck in adverse weather.

In that rain came across a fresh accident. A van had overturned on the center median, and was resting on the driver’s side windshield. It was clear it had happened moments before I got there. Since I had a car phone I immediately pulled over and called 911. Having made a rescue call like this before, I knew I needed to have a mile marker to speed things up. I got out of my car in the driving rain to see if I could spot one in the zero visibility weather.

The two people in the van seemed all right, though it was clear that the one man needed to be cut out of it. A person at the scene was able to provide me with a mile marker. I started to calm people down and get folks mobilized. Just as things seemed stabilized, it happened: Another car veered out of control into the median and hit one of the onlookers over the median and almost into oncoming traffic. As I write this I’m still not sure if I actually saw this happen. I know that I heard the tires squeal, the crash, and saw the man lying on the ground just feet away from the opposite lane.

I wish I could write I jumped into action. I didn’t. There was a lot of screaming from the people around me. As for me it took me a moment to process what had happened and realize that I was still on the phone with 911. I remember watching as the gentleman tried to scramble back from the traffic. Then, I was back in control, communicating the second accident to the operator, while hoping over the median to help pull this man away from the oncoming cars. And all the while I was praying that a car didn’t lose control on that side and hit both of us.

When I got to the gentleman he had already put some space between him and the traffic (thank God). One look and it was clear that the impact had dislocated, if not broken his right knee. His left shoulder also looked like it was out of the socket and he was bleeding from his nose and mouth. I got him calmed down and started to treat him for shock.

Thankfully, a DEC State Trooper pulled over to the accident scene. Additionally, a girl, who appeared from rather another vehicle, was a lifeguard and had first aid training. She took over for me as I check on the people in the second crash (who were fine) and ran back to see if anyone had anything to keep the man warm. By this point, the man’s wife, who had been traveling with him, made her way over to be with her husband.After a long ten minutes, state troopers and paramedics appeared on the scene. By that point the lifeguard had done a terrific job of stabilizing the man. I gave the wife my cell phone to make calls.

Within forty-five minutes I was back on the road, soaked to the bone and shaken from the experience. I left my phone and address with the woman; she needed them far more than I did. I couldn’t help but think what would have happened if the car had hit him three feet further. I was angry with myself for not reacting faster. Also for hesitating out of fear of being hit. I was also upset that I didn’t immediately have him lower his head in order to maintain the flow of blood (I had been more interested in getting him to calm down and not try to stand and hadn’t even thought of it). But I also know that I had done a lot of good and helped keep everyone at the scene calm until the troopers showed up.

More than anything else, I couldn’t help but see everything around me as fragile. I’ve had many reminders of that in my life; of how quickly things can change in a moment. These days we all have. I didn’t need another one. I wish I could say at the time it made me feel special about things. How everything is important. It didn’t. Instead every car I saw was a threat to my getting home. Every moment was fleeting, ready to be taken from me in a single violent action. With a few days perspective that view has faded. I accept this is something that we all live with, fair or not. And we all know it isn’t fair.

One thing is for sure; I’m upgrading the supply kit I keep in my car (I didn’t have any flares with me). I had planned to make that Mark, James and myself (at the least) all take the Red Cross First Aid and CPR courses as part of opening the Martial Arts School opened. Now there’s no question in my mind that needs to happen.

[Author’s note: I’ve been staring at this for a bit, trying to figure out how to end it and I can’t. There’s no major revelation, no earth shattering change to my life (other than to drive more carefully and defensively). I got to witness a bad situation turn worse. I thankfully got to see someone get very lucky (in a relative sense). I guess I’m the better for it. I don’t feel that way. I hope everything turned out ok for everyone involved. I hope I get my phone back. That’s about it.]