Friday, February 23, 2007

Rollover Accident

# : 1
Your Name : Anonymous
Street Address : 1660 Covington Way SE
City : Covington
State : Washington
Date : 02/11/1995
Time : 12:00 AM
Who : myself
What : When I was 16, I was involved in a single-car, no injury, rollover accident. I wasn't wearing a seatbelt. I left my girlfriend's house that night at about 10 minutes to midnight. I was obsessively concerned with making it home before curfew at midnight. Normally, the drive home from her place was about a 15-18 minute drive, so I really had to make good time. Things were going just fine until I got behind a car that insisted on driving the speed limit. I passed them in a section of road marked with a double yellow stripe. Unfortunately, I soon overtook another law abider. The posted speed limit at that time was 35 mph. I was driving my dad's old Ford Courier truck with the pedal to the metal at about 70-75 mph. At the moment when I needed to either brake or pass the car in front of me, we were entering a left-hand corner with a double yellow stripe. From my vantage point, I couldn't see if another car was coming towards me in the oncoming lane. Not wanting to take the risk of colliding with an oncoming car, I determined that the only way I could get around the car in front of me without slowing down was to pass it in the right-hand, gravel shoulder. Without hesitating, I swerved onto the shoulder and narrowly squeezed between the car and a road sign, which indicated the recommended speed for the corner--30 miles an hour.
Somehow, I passed the car and made it through the corner without losing control of the truck. The funny thing is, I never even considered not making it. I never consciously considered that I wouldn't pull it off. I always drove like a maniac and people were legitimately, and understandably, afraid to be in the truck with me. People on the road around me didn't feel any better.
In Covington, WA, which is a very small, rural town, the roads were not always in ideal condition. The shoulders of the roads were sometimes worse. It just so happened that at that time, at that particular place, there was a small "ditch" between the pavement and the gravel shoulder. The ditch was only about 5 inches wide and maybe 3 or 4 inches deep, but it was enough. As I tried to bring the truck back onto the pavement from the gravel, the ditch provided just enough of a hiccup to cause the back-end of the truck (empty truck bed; rear-wheel drive) to fishtail 90 degrees. I was now perpendicular to the road.
Since I was going about 70 just before then, and my rear wheels were now peeling out in the gravel as the truck changed directions and hit the ditch, coming back onto the pavement perpendicular to the roadway was absolutely frightening. At the same instant that I turned 90 degrees, my headlights illuminated what lie in front of me: a yellow fire hydrant, a wooden, slatted fence, and a telephone pole. My eyes locked on the fire hydrant.
When the truck's rear wheels gained traction on the pavement, the truck catapulted sideways across the road at speeds around 60 mph. In my terror, my body froze and I continued to press the accelerator to the floor. I never let up the gas or moved the steering wheel. I only gaped at that fire hydrant. Only a split second passed between the time I hit the ditch and realizing that I was going to crash into the fire hydrant. I never once thought about my seatbelt hanging uselessly from the wall of the cab of the truck.
I hit the fire hydrant with my right headlight. The hydrant snapped off its base like the head of a Barbie doll off her body. It provided just enough resistance to send the truck into a 360 degree spin. Half way through the spin, tires still spinning at full tilt, my foot still stomping uncontrollably on the gas pedal, the bed of the truck exploded through the fence. Two four by four posts snapped in half, with all of the planks splintering into shards. As the truck completed its 360, the tires on the forward side of the truck dug into the soft grass between the hydrant and the phone pole, causing the still fast-moving truck to flip onto its roof. As one of the windows and back windshield shattered, sending glass into my hair and down my shirt, the center of the truck's roof landed on a small boulder. The roof collapsed almost to the seat, leaving just a small space for its lonely, dazed driver. As the truck flipped over, I was sent crashing down onto the roof, slamming my head and shoulder against it.
I was disoriented. I didn't know which way was up. And my head throbbed like the dickens. At first, it seemed that the best way out of the truck was to kick out the one remaining window. I didn't bother to look at the other one. After 2 or 3 futile kicks, I realized I wasn't getting out that way. Then I noticed the other window was missing. About this time, I could faintly hear a man's voice slowly, calmly asking, "Is anyone OK?" He wasn't panicked or anxious. I thought later that he surely guessed me dead. As I crawled out of the window and onto the grass, I looked up into the face of a man that attended my church. He was stunned. Not only had I survived, but he knew me. He had been driving the car that I had tried to pass. He was the second law abider.
The truck was totaled, of course. My parents ended up salvaging only the wheels, tires, and bench seat. The only other part of the story that is of any interest is that I was fine, barely a scratch on me. The paramedics were amazed. The friendly police officer gave me a ticket for negligent driving. I've had to tell two state boards of bar examiners about that ticket.
A little later, my dad arrived at the scene of the accident. I saw him as I was climbing down from the fire truck or ambulance. Without stopping as he walked past me, he said, "You know, with the racing suspension, high performance engine, and low center of gravity, I can see why you thought you could pull that off." Now that's what parents are for.


txdave said...

Internet readers tend to read shorter posts.

Also some variety of font/format helps plus photos to keep people interested.

see wht I mean:

good luck


Rachel said...

wow, this txdave is annoying. Anyway, nice story telling fishhead. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Especially dad's comment. Nice, I wouldn't expect anything less. We're all glad you made it. ps: who was the church member? I don't remember...