Sometimes I Still Wonder…

August 5, 2010 at 6:07 pm (News) ()


****WARNING****

This may be graphic or very sad for some

Early last week I was driving home down the road I ALWAYS take to and from ‘town’.  My friend had been tutoring me and I was headed to class in about 2 hours.  As I was approaching the railroad crossing I saw the dreaded lights flash on.  ARGH!!  Everyone hates getting stopped by these trains.  They are slooooow.  I realised I hadn’t switched on the radio so I began flipping through stations looking for a song to match the sunny day it was.

The train was finally gone and I was the first to cross the tracks.  About a mile down the road, I think, but I can’t really remember because it seemed like so far, yet so soon, I approached what looked like a semi pulled off on the side of the road.  I slowed down to get ready to pass.  Then I noticed a passenger van on the opposite side of the road, then the people moving about, then the mess in the middle of the road.  I realised I would not be able to pass, but there was a small road just before the accident where I could manouver around it. I didn’t really plan to go down that road because I felt right away that I should stop to see if I could help.  I pulled off and other vehicles started to pass me to turn off in front of me.

When I approached the accident on foot I noticed someone walking around in the middle of the road with a phone to his ear: he must be on the phone with the dispatcher.  I noticed a commercial van which I hadn’t seen before.  The front end was banged up and the driver was on the phone.  Then I approached the passenger van.  It looked like it did not even have an engine.

As I got close I smelled gasoline and oil very strongly.  I was concerned for the people nearby.  There were about 4 other people milling about, looking inside, talking to the passenger.  I heard the passenger say, “You don’t understand.  My husband is dead.” with little emotion.  She was in shock.  My first thought was, ‘no he’s not…he can’t be…he’ll be ok.’ and I went on to see if there was anyone who needed CPR.  I heard, “There is some gurgling noise….she is bleeding from her eye and mouth.”  They were talking about the girl in the back.  She was slumped over.  There was a man just standing there.  I asked, “What can I do?”  He walked away.

The back of the passenger van was smashed in and the window completely shattered.  That is where someone was looking in to talk to the girl in the back.  The sliding door opened.  The girl came to.  She began to moan.  Someone asked if anyone had something to put on her wounds.  I had blankets in the car but someone else’s car was much closer to mine so they ran to get some sheets.  The girl that got the sheets was about to lose it.  She was shaking and muttering, “Oh, my god!”  She began to talk more shrill and the guy on the phone yelled at her to get out of here.

The dispatcher must have asked if the passengers were accessible because he said that we could not get the passenger side door open.  Then someone yanked on it and it opened.  The woman started to step her foot out and another woman and I shouted, “STAY THERE!”  She could have who knows how many internal injuries.  I could see the air bags and it looked like they saved her life.  We could now better hear her wimpers, “My husband is dead, you’ve got to help him.  Help my daughter.”

I could see the girl in the back.  She was moaning and doubling over.  The bleeding on her face looked like it stopped and dried quickly in the heat.  She looked like she was 15.  “Please try to hold still, honey.  Try to hold your neck still.  The paramedics are coming.” was all we could say to her.  “It HUUUURTS, MOM!”

I felt so helpless.  What could I do?!  “Does someone have a phone?” the woman said.  I did, but I knew there was a guy on the phone with the paramedics and there was another guy that kept shouting, “Keep cell phones away from the vehicle!  There is gas.  It could start a fire!”  Apparently just as I was arriving someone was already putting out a fire with an extinguisher they had in their car.

I went around to the driver’s side.  Someone said something about CPR.  A woman said, “He’s bleeding out his nose and mouth.”  I said, “I have a mouth guard we can use.”  She lowered her voice and said, “This guy is beyond CPR.  There are no signs of life.  The engine is in his lap.  He is probably cut from the waist down.”  I looked up at him.  The engine, or what was left of it, was indeed where the driver’s seat should be.  I looked for a few seconds and saw no movement, no breathing.  I felt gutted like I had never felt before.

I went back to the passenger side to console the mother and daughter.  We assured them that the paramedics were coming (where, oh where were they?!)  I looked around and saw neighbors coming out of their homes on their phones.  I saw the semi driver and the other van driver at their respective vehicles on the phone.  Probably with their companies.  I saw the traffic backing up further and further.

Finally, FINALLY I hear sirens!  “They’re here” we tell them.  But it was the police.  “They will be here very soon now!” we tell them.  And sure enough, the paramedics arrive.  I stand back as they approach with boards.  They shoo us away and I head back to my car.  The whole event was probably over 5 or 10 minutes, but it felt like 100.

It was then that I started to lose it.  I felt the sobs welling up from the bottom of my soul.  I covered my face until I made it back to my car.  The police closed the road completely right in front of my car and I could not head down that turn off.  I had to turn around and head back the other way.  I just wanted to be home.  I just wanted to see Josh and hug him.  I don’t know if I ever sobbed so hard and deeply.

I could not stop crying for at least an hour.  So many things ran through my head.  I heard that the commercial van smashed into the back of the passenger van, pushing it into the path of the on-coming semi.  I wondered what if it had not been a semi?  What if the driver had been able to maneuver the van in the other direction?  What if the commercial van had been going slower?  What if I had not been stopped by that train?  Would I have gone through before the accident or would it have been ME they hit?  What if that happened to us?  What would it feel like to have my husband dead next to me?  Was there something else I could have done?  I should have gotten in the van and let the girl hold my hand.  I should have asked the woman if there was someone I could call for her.  I should have…

Should I have insisted that we try CPR?  This question keeps coming back to haunt me.  But there physically no way.

The papers said the husband died from multiple organ failure and blunt trauma.  The mother and daughter were both in critical condition and the daughter was flown to a Chicago hospital.  I hope they are ok and I am very sad for their loss and the trauma they had gone through.  This event was traumatic enough for me.  I still hear the sounds and smell the smells.  I have a bit of anxiety when I drive.  I various scenes flash before me multiple times a day.  I cannot imagine how people in war torn countries cope with so much trauma and death everywhere.

It makes me thankful.

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2 Comments

  1. Kacie said,

    That’s crazy and sad. Remember the post I did about the wedding in Canada I went to in the middle of nowhere? Another Canadian friend was driving up to the wedding and was right behind a semi wreck. The driver died in their arms as they waited for medical help. Sad stuff. To see the end of a life… so sobering.

    • justaweeblether said,

      That is very sad. I think it would be more traumatic to watch someone as they pass away.

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