Monday, July 9, 2012

I witnessed a horrific motorcycle-SUV accident on my way home tonight.

All I could think about was how lives had been changed in that instant. Both of the men involved--that wasn't how they were planning on spending their evenings. They were supposed to arrive home in their driveways safely, but--because of a fraction of a second in which they suddenly collided--that was not to be.

It's a sobering reminder of how precious life is, no matter how trite that sounds.

Thankfully, I had never seen anything like that before in my life. But there I was, sitting at an intersection. I was two cars back from the intersection, waiting in the left turn lane at a red light. I happened to be looking straight ahead, and all of a sudden I hear the unmistakable sound of metal on metal--a high impact crashing sound. I saw a few small parts of metal fly through the air, and then, horrifyingly, a body. It was then that I realized this was undoubtedly a motorcycle accident, which immediately made it far worse in my head.

I happened to have my phone out of my purse and next to me, so I picked it up and immediately dialed 911, as fast as my shaking hands could manage. Like others around me, I got out of my car, but I didn't run into the intersection, since I had Nora in the backseat. I reported the accident's location to the 911 operator, telling him that an SUV had hit a motorcyclist and that the SUV was now on top of him. In the meantime, people on the scene were screaming--some yelling at the SUV driver to "back up, back up, back up!" off of the victim.

The operator began asking me questions. Ones that I couldn't answer given my distance from the situation. I turned to a nice man next to me and said that I was running up to the intersection, please make sure no one steals my daughter. (Kind of funny, now that the situation is over.) I ran to the accident scene and got my first look at the guy. He had visibly broken bones in his arms, but I could see him moving his arms and legs, and his chest moving up and down. People were trying to keep him from trying to move his neck/head. I told the 911 operator he was breathing, and asked the crowd around how old they thought he was. They said they thought he was mid-40s.

Moments later, the ambulance was on scene, and the 911 operator let me hang up. I noticed the poor SUV driver, sitting on the curb bleeding from his own head. He was older--looked like maybe he was in his late 60s, early 70s. Then he kind of keeled over and someone said they thought he was having a heart attack. I think he was just in shock.

I went back to my car to find Nora playing happily with her toy laptop in the backseat. I was glad that she was so oblivious. I sat in my car, shaking, and called Michael and immediately started crying. Traffic was at a complete stand-still, so I was stuck where I was, just watching as more and more first responders arrived on scene to help.

I have been playing the scene over and over again in my head. The noises, the sights, the people around me. It was just terrifying. I thought the guy was going to die. My first impression was that the SUV had turned into the motorcycle, but as I analyzed it all in my head, I think the motorcyclist actually turned in front of the SUV, not giving himself enough time.

Since then, I've seen one news report about the accident, which says that the motorcyclist has non-life-threatening injuries. Shocking based on what I saw, but I'm obviously hoping it's true. I keep checking for updates. I guess it's probably good news if one never comes.

I saw strangers come together to help a stranger today, which is always a nice reminder of the good in the world. And I obviously hugged my baby a little tighter at bedtime tonight, knowing how lucky we are for every day that we come home together as planned. For every day that we wake up to live another day.


Jennifer @ Also Known As...the Wife July 9, 2012 at 10:30 PM  

That is terrible! You're right...that sound is unmistakable. I hope both men make a full recovery.

It's amazing that horrible events like this really do bring people together, whether to help the actual victim or watch someone's kid while the person goes to help.

Krystie July 9, 2012 at 10:40 PM  

My husband used to be a breaking news camera man and took me on several ride a long's to accidents. It's the most horrifying thing in the world to see helpless lives on the ground, and families being shattered. My first accident ride a long was at 18 years old with a family of 4 that was killed by a drunk driver. I swore from that day on I would never ever drink and drive and that I would drive way more cautiously. Eye opening for sure.

basebell6 July 9, 2012 at 11:45 PM  

I found myself holding my breath while reading this whole thing. Like Krystie, this awakened memories for me too. A girl died when her drunk / high boyfriend crashed their [borrowed, uninsured] car into my house. Things like that you remember forever, and you will never forget today either.

Eric's Mommy July 10, 2012 at 8:38 AM  

Wow Heather, that is so scary! I hope he comes out fine. Keep us posted!

Phase Three of Life July 14, 2012 at 2:56 PM  

How terrifying. I'm so glad it wasn't worse, but that must have been really hard to see.

Anonymous,  July 16, 2012 at 1:52 PM  

Scary. We were in an accident last fall. My son, who is a couple weeks younger than your daughter, was in the car with me. We were both fine, but the airbags deployed and my car was totaled. It took forever for the police to come and it was pouring rain. Some lady who lived nearby stopped to help and she let my son sit and I sit in her car. When the police finally came I had to go back to my car (out in the intersection) to get my purse so I left my son with this lady. By that time my husband arrived and was a little surprised that I'd left our son in the car with a stranger. It is odd to trust a stranger but at that point I was just so glad he was okay and so shaken up from the whole thing.

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