Cheating Death, Part 2

Yesterday almost marked the end of my blog.  I mean, how can you write about your life with John if there is no John?  He was involved in what could have been a very serious car wreck, but his years of driving experience and quick thinking kept him and the other driver from suffering any serious injuries.  I didn’t learn about the accident until he was telling me in person after he arrived home, so my initial reaction was pretty unemotional.  I mean there he was standing in front of me without a scratch so there was no reason to freak out.  However, reviewing the details of the crash in my mind and playing “What if?” until the wee hours of the morning has stirred some pretty strong emotions.  When a spouse has a serious accident, even one without injury, we are forced to face not only a future without our lifelong companion but also our own mortality, and I can tell you without hesitation that the first one is scarier than the second.

John had been in Salina helping his mother for a couple of days.  She had a minor surgical procedure on her hand so he had gone up the night before to take her to the appointment and stayed another night to make sure she was going to be all right.  He headed back home with some light freezing drizzle falling causing road conditions that were less than ideal but not treacherous.  He was driving about 10 miles an hour under the speed limit in response to the weather conditions, but unfortunately, one young lady in a 1995 Saturn wasn’t quite as responsible.  He could see her approaching at a high rate of speed, but she didn’t move into the passing lane gradually.  Instead she waited until she was right behind him and made what proved to be a disastrously sharp move into the left lane.  She immediately lost control of the vehicle and started fishtailing.

Even though her vehicle was traveling in a predominantly sideways manner, she was still catching John and was soon beside him as they moved onto an overpass.  John slowed down and moved onto the shoulder, but he couldn’t apply his brakes too much or he would be in danger of losing control of his pickup.  As the Saturn moved into his lane he quickly realized that a hard hit on the shoulder of the road might send him over the guardrail so at the moment of impact, he steered his pickup back into his lane of traffic so he would have some momentum in the opposite direction that might keep him on the road.  His perfectly executed NASCAR maneuver worked exactly as planned.  I’m not saying he was channeling #3, but I don’t think Dale Earnhardt could have done the bump any better himself.  He was still pushed into the guardrail, but the force was minimal enough that he just slid along the metal barrier without going off the road.  The smaller Saturn bounced off the pickup and also stayed on the road which probably prevented a much worse outcome for the other driver as well.

When her car came to a stop, the other driver got out and ran back to where John was.  She immediately started apologizing.  I’m glad I wasn’t with him because he had the self-control to refrain from pointing out her stupidity, reckless behavior, and total lack of driving skills.  That probably wouldn’t have been my approach.  A passing highway patrolman stopped within minutes and began the reporting procedure.  John called our son who came out with a board and a pry bar to separate the bumper of the pickup from the left front tire.  After the officer took John’s statement and gave him a copy of the accident report, he was free to go.  I asked him if the Saturn was drivable as well, and he said at that point he really wasn’t concerned with how the other driver continued on her journey.

All things considered, short of avoiding the accident altogether, the outcome was about as good as it could have been.  There will be considerable repairs to both sides of the pickup since the left side was hit by the Saturn and the right side did a tango with the guardrail.  For me, I’ve had enough of this Cheating Death action, adventure series.  I want to get back to a nice romantic comedy!

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