“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.” – Albert Einstein
A car crash “beautiful”? The beautiful thing is we’re alive. Nothing’s broken. Just some whiplash. No biggy.
Actually, whiplash is no picnic. Reliving the accident and hearing the sounds over and over in my mind, wondering how it all happened and how we survived… that’s no picnic either.
The mystery of it all lies in one second. It could have been less. Neither one of us know exactly why the car lost control. Did the other car hit us? Did we hit some recently fallen rain that helped the car on it’s new journey?
The mysterious is something I don’t like to let go of, even if it doesn’t matter. What really matters is that we’re still here. The beauty in the mystery came from asking the question, “Are we going to die?”
You may not care to read all the details here. The pieces of the puzzle have kept me awake at nights and this is a good way to let them go. And it’s my journal entry of the accident.
April 1, 2010
09:00:00 Alan and I decide we want to go to the temple. We rearrange our individual schedules so they line up.
11:20:30 (Okay, I’m guessing at the actual seconds here, but it’s to give the full effect.)
We leave our home and Alan decides he wants to drive by our neighbor’s barn to take a picture. He loves old barns. The barn is off our regular route to the freeway. A detour.
11:25:58 Alan, driving, enters I-15 from Spanish Fork via the middle lane of three lanes, heading North. Traffic in the middle lane is going well below the speed limit so he decides to move to the slow lane. He passes the slower pokes and thinks about moving back over to middle lane when he sees a white car moving there. So he waits.
11:26:01 White Car continues to move past the middle lane and into the slow lane, but doesn’t see us in her blind spot.
11:26:02 I’m typing a text to my sister. White Car isn’t stopping. Alan doesn’t have time to honk, only to react. We’re going 65 MPH.
11:26:03 This second is fuzzy in both of our memories, but we think Alan veered to the right and then tried to correct back to the left.
11:26:04 I look up from my phone as Alan says, “Ohp! Hold on.” And the car starts to lose its grip. The sleet that had fallen may or may not have assisted.
11:26:05 We start to spin, rear end to the right. We wobble.
11:26:06 The reality registers. We are definitely going to crash.
11:26:07 I ask in prayer, “Are we going to die?” The answer is “No.” The thought to hang on until it’s over is instantaneous to my reaction of clenching every muscle in my body.
11:26:08 Rear end of car continues to whirl as we slide across the freeway toward the fast lane.
11:26:10 Impact. Car hits divider of North and South bound traffic, a fence made of 3 steel cables running along 3 ft high posts. Alan raises his hands above his head from holding the steering wheel in attempt to avoid having them fly out of an open, shattered window or collision with air bag.
11:26:11 Scraping along 6 posts. Our bodies are jerked and something grazed my cheek.
11:26:12 The divider cables shoot us like a sling shot.
11:26:13 We’re flipping, the car’s front end over rear.
11:26:15 Impact. Between the road’s shoulder and fast lane, the car lands on it’s hood. We’re upside down.
11:26:17 Windows shatter.
11:26:18 We’re spinning again, spewing glass in the fast lane as we go.
11:26:19 Judging by the marks we later see on the freeway, we spin 3 times before stopping.
11:26:21 We’re back in the slow lane.
11:26:23 Alan and I ask each other, “Are you okay?” We each respond, “Yeah, I’m okay.”
11:26:25 Alan releases his seatbelt. I’m fumbling with mine. I’m unable to make it budge. Knowing we’re not going to die I say, “I’ll just stay here for a minute.” Alan sees that he must crawl out the back window, but checks on my situation.
11:26:27 Alan comes to my aid just as I get some sanity and realize my weight from hanging upside down is preventing my seatbelt from releasing. I loosen the tension and the seatbelt releases.
11:26:28 Trying to make our brains catch up with what happened we ask ourselves questions. How do I get out? Are we still on the freeway? Northbound still or did we cross over to the Southbound? Now that I’m not handing upside down, which way is the front of the car?
11:26:34 Do I have any broken bones? What do I grab? What am I missing? Where’s my cell phone? What’s with all the dirt? There were so many intense crash sounds. Did the air bags deploy? Oh, that’s what skidded along my cheek. Did we hit other cars? Are we going to get hit again by oncoming traffic?
11:26:35 Alan crawls out the back window and directs me to do the same.
11:26:36 Realizing he may want his cell phone, Alan asks me if I see it. I see his hands-free cord and pull, but nothing comes.
11:26:40 In succession, 3 people come up to the car, lean into the window and ask, “Are you okay?”
11:26:41 I yell, “I’m okay.” In anger. It’s how I react in scary situations.
11:26:42 One of the men says, “You may want to get out quickly, there’s a little smoke coming from the car.”
11:26:43 I give up on Alan’s phone and get out with whatever I can carry.
11:26:45 Crawling out I hear sirens. I think. Alan and I ask each other again, “Are you okay?”
11:26:48 Freezing wind adds to my shock. Throbbing pain starts in my jaw. I see blood on my hands, on Alan’s hands and shirt.
11:26:49 Alan says in a shaky laugh, “That was CRAZY!!” And then gets his camera.
11:27:00 What I see as I walk to the freeway shoulder: Incident Response truck. Guy setting up orange cones. Highway Patrol. A lady saying to someone, “I saw it happen if you need me.” A guy offering me his coat. Alan telling me to put it on. Alan has a new orange sweatshirt on. A different guy asking me if I need help carrying my stuff–temple clothes cases, my purse, another bag with Alan’s travel scriptures. A new guy asking me if I want to sit in his car to keep warm while I wait.
11:28:00 Wait for what? I still can’t comprehend everything that happened. Alan’s taking pictures of the scene. I see a man standing next to a fender bendered white car.
I ask, “Did we hit you?”
He says, “I don’t know what happened….” I think he said something else, but it didn’t register in my mind.
11:28:03 The guy asks me again if I want to sit in his car to keep warm. I say, “Yes, thank you.”
11:30:00 Taking deep breaths. Notice for the first time the blood on my skirt. Look in the car’s visor mirror and see tiny cuts on the bridge of my nose. Notice my jaw is throbbing and my cheek is numb. Take more deep breaths. “We’re alive,” I think. “Look at that car. How are we alive? How do we not have broken limbs? What now?” Calm down. The traffic is horrible. I wonder how we avoided being hit again.
11:35:00 EMT comes and helps me to the ambulance to assess my condition. Alan is there being checked. His hands are shaking. Face is red, but he’s okay, clear minded. It’s somehow comforting that we experienced this together.
Our vitals are reasonable. We have no tenderness as they prod our stomachs. We decide to not be transported, but go to ER later to be sure we’re okay. Alan asks me to call my sister Emilie to see if she can come get us.
I pull out my phone and notice that the text I was writing to Emilie before the crash says, “Just checking on Grandma’s statuskkk”.
Emilie makes her way through the backed up freeway traffic. She arrives and it’s a comfort to see her. I can’t help but get teary when she gives me a hug.
The EMTs go check on the other driver. Wife driving, husband and baby are passengers. The EMTs get a stuffed teddy bear to give the baby.
11:55:00 Car is pulled out of the freeway and traffic is able to get by now. Emilie and Alan take more pictures of the car and scene. The wind is freezing. I feel glass and dust in my shoes (I don’t have nylons on), down my shirt, in my hair.
12:15:00 We head home. Starving, shaky, but feeling the shock starting to diminish and the aches setting in.
12:30:00 Shake out our clothes, wash the blood out of our clothes, eat something, and prepare ourselves to get wait at he ER.
13:00:00 Talked to Dad, Mom, sister-in-law.
13:30:00 Alan suggests we pray. We thank our Heavenly Father for allowing us to walk away from that accident and ask for His healing blessings. As Alan prays, I thank Him for the the peace that came in the answer to my question.
13:32:00 We head to Payson Hospital. When we get on the freeway, we realize we forgot some accident paperwork so we turn around and head home.
14:00:00 Arrive at hospital along with 8 other patients.
18:30:00 X-rays are fine. Leave the hospital more sore than when we arrived, as expected. We leave with a diagnosis of whiplash and prescriptions to help the pain.
18:45:00 Have a warm, comforting bowl of corn chowder at Emilie’s while she goes to the pharmacy to pick up our prescriptions. The guy who lends us his jackets comes by to pick them up.
An April Fool’s Day that will be forever in our memories.