Thursday, April 19, 2018

A Life Lesson Wrapped in a Car Crash


*Not the actual car crash



There was no traffic, just a lazy, mid-Sunday afternoon. We were starving and decided to drive to one of our son's favorite local pizza places.  My husband was focused on the road, when unexpectedly I saw a flash of something ahead of us. I saw it was a utility pole and it seemed as if something had exploded, a transformer blew perhaps, I thought. I saw the pole shake and assumed it was because of the explosion at the top. As we drove closer and could see better, my husband suddenly said, "Oh my God, there's a car!"

Right then, I realized an accident had just happened. The pole shaking wasn't caused by the transformer exploding but rather the car hitting the utility pole!

Two vehicles in front of us stopped toward the side of the road, as we did as well. I saw three people rush to the driver's side of the wrecked vehicle to try to help out. My husband turned our hazard lights on, left our vehicle to walk closer to the car that crashed, while I grabbed my phone to call 911. While waiting for my call to go through, I saw a teenage girl, with her Mom closer to the crash site, also on her phone and I assumed she was also on a 911 call like myself. Everyone had a distressed look on their faces, with a woman clutching her hands and closing her eyes, obviously in prayer. 

It was all so surreal to me at that point. I had never before witnessed a vehicular accident right after it happened and only prayed whoever was inside would survive. The front of the car was wrecked and it was obvious that the car had hit the utility pole and spun a 180. My husband and I made sure there were no live wires dangling on the ground and decided it was better to stand back. There were already four people trying to help and comfort the driver, without moving him. It was best not to move him. Eventually, we heard that the driver seemed seriously injured, had a broken arm with a bone sticking out, and per my husband's estimation, the man was probably in his 60's.

After about 10 minutes after I hung up from my 911 call, two police cars arrived and then shortly after, a fire truck and an ambulance came rushing to the scene. A woman claimed she had witnessed the actual accident and so the police officer requested that she stay while the rest of us leave the scene. 

I still don't know what happened. It was 3:30 in the afternoon. It wasn't dark, the roads were wide open. Could the man have had a stroke? Could he have fallen asleep? Did he try to avoid something? Did he lose his breaks? Was he distracted? None of us witnesses and bystanders knew, and most importantly, it did not matter.

That's what struck me most. None of the extraneous circumstances mattered. Everyone knew that the right thing to do was stop and try to help in whatever capacity, even if that meant simply being there to let the driver know he wasn't alone and that medical help was arriving soon. If the car was in any danger of exploding—and it was in everybody's mind given the impact—everyone of us who stood there knew we were prepared to pull the driver out of his vehicle to keep him alive. 

It was moving to witness such a level of concern from strangers and to feel the spirit of humanity in action. The injured driver's background did not matter...

His skin color did not matter. Nor did his political views, moral beliefs, life choices, achievements, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, or anything that make any of us assign judgement or assumptions about others. All everyone saw was a human being who needed help and that was enough. 

There are so many things dividing us right now. If we let it, it really will tear us apart and destroy our humanity and that sacred part of us; that part that remains pure and innately connected to others. But if we just try harder at stripping ourselves of our prejudices and simply focus on kindness and our common humanity, it's easier to see that all of us are really just struggling and none of us can survive alone. Trust your heart. It will never waste time overthinking when you need to jump out and help someone in need. 




4 comments:

  1. So glad you stopped and helped. So many people don't. It's a traumatic experience but you may save someone's life when you don't assume someone else will take care of it.

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    1. So true, Rebecca. Diffusion of responsibility is a very dangerous thing. And I feel blessed that I didn't witness that happening here. The driver was saved (Oh God, I hope so!), but on some level, this accident also saved a lot of us, I suspect. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Xoxo

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  2. Wow! What an experience for you. So scary. Yet it's worth seeing, I would think, that at such extraordinary times, people prove to be more GOOD than ordinary times seem to show. Thank God for that.

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    1. You put it so well, Lisa! I was really touched by how connected everyone acted and felt. Thank you!

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