I witnessed a car accident today, on my way to pick the big girls up from kindergarten. We usually walk, but today Zoe and I had run an all important errand to Garden Ridge for random decorative crap.
If you’re not from Texas and don’t know what the hell Garden Ridge is, think humongous, unsavory-looking orange warehouse filled to the brim with all things home decor. And scrubs. I have no idea why they carry scrubs, but if you’re in the market, they’re over by the wicker baskets.
I was following a black sedan down a house-lined road with a relatively slow speed limit when a black SUV approached from the opposite direction and went to turn left into a driveway, directly in front of the sedan. Like SO RIGHT IN FRONT OF HER it was obvious she just didn’t see her. The sedan slammed on her brakes, but there was no time. Her front end crunched into the passenger side of the SUV. I pulled over, already reaching for my phone to call 911.
EVERYONE IS OKAY. Thank God. Had the sedan been going faster, or the SUV, who knows how much worse it could have been than a crushed hood and dented side. Fire and EMS were on the scene within minutes, and man, did those people get to work. Much respect.
I learned a few things about myself during the scenario. Not that it’s even about me, because it isn’t, and had everyone not been okay, I’d likely be telling a different story. But as much as we try to prepare, sometimes we never really know how we will react in these situations.
1. I am quick enough to think to call 911 and try to get someone out there. Tell me what to do, and I can follow directions like a boss. I maintained a clear head, dictated our location, the makes of the vehicles, and exactly what was going on, including whether or not anyone was in dire need of medical assistance. And I managed to hold onto the mallowcreme pumpkins I may or may not have been about to pop into my mouth when the accident occurred. So I’m also resourceful?
2. I am NOT responsive enough to immediately jump into the scene. As I was on the phone with 911, I could hear the driver of the sedan wailing. The driver of the SUV ran over and helped her out of her car. Turns out she had a little girl, maybe 18 months, strapped into her carseat. Was I hesitant because I saw people already responding? Or was it because I couldn’t think past what I was already doing, which was on the phone and being passed around more times than a doobie at a Phish concert?
Sometimes I am too self absorbed for my own good. I don’t think that I am the “run into a burning building” type. We all play scenarios out in our heads, and we’d like to be the ones who valiantly pull victims from dangerous situations, but in the heat of the moment, I kinda froze. Let’s all hope that a) that status won’t stand when my own children are hurt or in danger; and b) I never have to test that with my own children.
3. I am terrible a cop-speak. I’m all, “She was going that way, she was coming this way, SHE turned in front of HER at the last second, and SHE…” and he’s all, “Who exactly was doing what, and OMG CIVILIAN, YOU ARE KILLING ME.” So I had to stumble through a cop-appropriate version using makes and models and possibly directions. It was rough.
Let me reiterate, everyone was okay, just shaken up. But the scariest part about this accident is how out of your control things can be some times. You can be driving as safely as you can, all eyes on the road, and it won’t necessarily matter. Someone else who isn’t paying attention or just plain didn’t see you can pull out right in front of you. I saw every move of that accident with my own eyes. There was no way the sedan could have avoided hitting the SUV that turned in front of her. It was a good reminder to remain attentive while driving and make sure your kids are appropriately strapped in. I know how easy it is to rush through the strapping and the clicking and the tightening.
And maybe since she was paying attention and not speeding, she was able to keep the damage to a minimum, and she and her little girl got to walk away today.
Have you ever witnessed an accident? What did you do?