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A close call on the highway

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Batman, Nov 22, 2008.

  1. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    Driving home from a football game last night, there was a wreck on the interstate. The worst kind, where a car crosses the median and smashes head-on into an 18-wheeler. Two people in the car died instantly, the 18-wheeler caught fire and the interstate was blocked up for about six hours.
    We've all seen this before. It's tragic and horrible. What I can't seem to shake today is a case of the "what ifs?"
    We were not that far behind this wreck. Ten, maybe 15 minutes. There were only a couple dozen cars between where we stopped and where the road was blocked off. When we hit the line of stopped cars, emergency vehicles were still arriving on the scene. A half-dozen of them passed us on the shoulder within a couple of minutes.
    And there were all sorts of things that happened last night that could have put us a couple miles up the road a little sooner. A transformer blew out at the field before the game, and it was delayed about 45 minutes. What if it had blown a few minutes sooner, or the workers had fixed it a little faster?
    What if the team that was getting blown out had just run out the clock, instead of throwing a touchdown pass in the last minute of the game?
    What if, instead of writing 20 or 25 inches on a playoff game, I had written the usual 15 or 16? What if the pictures we sent had gone through a little faster?
    I know you can go nuts thinking about this stuff, but I can't seem to help it. I travel a good chunk of interstate every day for my commute, and this has really gotten into my head.
  2. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    It was snowing really badly one night in Bennington in 1995. I covered the first half of a hoops game at Mount Anthony, which is 2 minutes from the office. But it also was Senior Night at Burr & Burton in Manchester, about a half-hour north, and I had planned to go there for a few pics and such. So I start to head up to Manch on a whited-out, slick road. I shouldn't have even tried, but was being the good worker bee. Five minutes out of town I lose control of the car. It slides into the oncoming lane. A Mack truck is heading down that lane. Luckily I slid all the way over his lane and into a driveway -- maybe 2 seconds before the truck roared past me.

    I turned around and decided to go back to the office.
  3. HandsomeHarley

    HandsomeHarley Well-Known Member

    As much as I detest sitting at red lights (especially when there's no traffic coming across), I try to tell myself that red light, or that slower driver in front of me, or that train may have saved my life, because all it takes is being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and if your guardian angel wasn't watching out for you, your time has come.

    Which is to say, if it's your time, there's nothing you can do about it.

    Let's be careful out there.
  4. Killick

    Killick Well-Known Member

    I had same thing happen, Xan -- but I was 17, had a van filled with seven friends on the way to a girls' basketball tournament game. Hit a sheet of ice, drifted left, saw semi coming and nearly shat myself. Our truck wasn't as close as yours, but still scary. Oh, and we ditched in a... well... a ditch. Had to get a wrecker pull us back on road. Nobody hurt, tho. One of those "whew moments."
  5. Sandoval

    Sandoval Member

    Way back when I was in high school, I was supposed to ride with a couple friends across town for some sort of extracurricular group thing we were all doing. At the last minute I just decided not to go. No real reason, nothing else I had planned, I just didn't want to do it and walked home instead. It was a dick move and they were rightfully pissed at me.

    Next day when I get to school, I find out that a mile or so down the road, they had gotten into an accident and the entire back seat of the car was crushed and destroyed. My two friends were fine in the front seat, but had I gone with them, I would have been in the back seat and probably killed.
  6. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    I've had feelings like that once in a while, Sandoval. One time I begged a co-worker to take an assignment from me that involved a 45-minute drive on the interstate, just because I had a really bad feeling about making the trip.
    A couple months ago, I just had a flash in my head of a date, and that something bad was going to happen on my trip home on that day. I couldn't avoid going to work, so I white-knuckled the steering wheel and kept a sharp eye on the cars coming the other way on the interstate for the entire trip home.
    I know, like Harley said, if it's your time it's your time. Nothing you can do about it. But it also scares me to think that that train, or that red light may be putting me in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    For those who have been much closer to a wreck than I was, how do you process something like that when it happens?
  7. luckyducky

    luckyducky Guest

    My closest call -- that I can remember at the moment -- was three years ago when I was in the process of moving back up to WA from Oregon and was on my way up to apartment hunt for a day.

    If anyone's driven through Portland on I-5, you know the Terwilliger Curves. The speed limit's lowered to 50 there (55 on either end) and folks typically go 60-65. I've driven the area so many times I'm comfortable going 65ish in little to no traffic and was going just under on a pretty empty day on the freeway. I'd passed a truck right before the curves started and stayed in the left lane after I did.

    All of the sudden, this guy in a little suped-up honda came up on my ass and, about the same time I saw him, he dove to right to pass me. Well, buddy didn't know how to drive -- especially those curves going at his speed (I'm guessing he was going 80-85 when he came up on me/passed me) -- and as he got over, he misjudged and then over-corrected. He ended up spinning from the far left all the way to the right and back to the left, across the four lanes twice, and came to rest a foot from hitting the median. I started slowing down the second I saw him start to lose control, so I was about 10 feet back when he came to a stop. My hands were still shaking all the way across the Columbia, a good 10 more miles on I-5.

    My more recent one was driving home from covering state swimming two years ago. Took the off-ramp/interchange off I-5 onto a local highway and the lady behind me decided I wasn't going fast enough (45, five over, ftr), so at the beginning of the corner, she merged left, then couldn't control her car on the corner and, with the freshly rained on roads, ended up slipping and sliding and eventually hitting the entire front end of my car. It shook me up and all, but the biggest pain in the a$$ was actually listening to her insurance lady try and tell me that the lady claimed someone had "tapped the back corner of her car" and that's why she spun out. If I'd known where the woman lived, I would have strangled her for her stupidity.

    I love driving, especially freeway driving, but that last one, with the stupid woman, actually kept me from taking that exit for more than a year. Crashes happen in that spot a lot and I only plan on being involved in one there.
  8. I Digress

    I Digress Guest

    Driving to some forgotten game in a company car that I always hated driving. It was winter and the tires were underinflated, which I did not know. I hit some black ice, I guess, and just started spinning in circles down the road. A moment of complete calm comes over me. I notice a car going past me the other way as I release the wheel, lean back into the seat and wait for.. whatever..I stopped spinning, hitting nothing, still on the road. Shaking, I continue on my way....

    Another night, leaving Akron around 11 or so after a game and the snow is just starting to fall. Heading west across the Ohio turnpike. It's late, there's not much traffic and the road just gets worse as the night continues. Crank the tunes, creep along and stay awake. Long drive home, so be it. Some asshat comes roaring past me in the other lane and vanishes into the night. Few miles up the road, the asshat is stuck in the median.
  9. DavidPoole

    DavidPoole Member

    On the way back to the Charlotte area (I was working in Gastonia, NC, at the time) from one of those 9 p.m. ACC television games (in this case, one of the first games at the Dean E. Smith Center the year it opened in Chapel Hill), I knew I was fighting drowsiness but I figured that was nothing new. I did that a lot. But this time drowsiness won. When I woke up, I was still going about 60 but I was doing it on the ramp of a rest area. Instead of running off the road, I ran off onto that ramp instead. Oddly, after that I had never been more awake in my life.
  10. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    I was going to drive to New Orleans a few years ago and changed my mind. Then I heard about a huge pileup on the I-10 viaduct over the Atchafalaya Basin that happened about the time I would've been driving through had I gone after all.
  11. kingcreole

    kingcreole Active Member

    I'll never forget driving to a prep basketball game one year in a driving snowstorm. It was a two-hour drive and I rode with the radio guy. He spent 10 minutes on his cell phone talking to his wife, and during that time, the AD tried to call him to tell him the game had been called off. Well, during his conversation with his wife, he lost reception (I was without a cell phone then. It was 2000).

    Got to Podunk, saw sign that said the game had been postponed. We start the looooong drive home, although we probably should have found a motel somewhere because it was a damn-near white out.

    There were some OK stretches where you could easily drive 40-50 mph. But about 20 miles from home, we were going no faster than 20 mph. The car finally lost control. We fishtailed, spun at least twice, and I'll never forget closing my eyes, waiting for a semi to hit us or for the car to start flipping. For a couple seconds, I literally thought I was going to die. We ended up on the opposite shoulder, car perpendicular to the road. Had to push it back out on the road, but everything after was OK.

    Never before was I so certain of death, and I'd rather not experience anything like that for at least 50 more years.
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