23 December 2007

Close Call

Today I saw my life flash before my eyes.

Actually, I didn't. It would have been ideal considering the circumstances, but everything happened so fast, I didn't have time to think. After church, Mark, my mom, and I went to the KCI airport to pick up Geoff. He's home for three days over Christmas break. We were on the way home.

I heard my mom say, "Oh, crap," as I felt the car lose control of the back tires, almost spinning us around. My mom didn't break (as you shouldn't) and tried to turn the wheel against the spin. We started spinning the other direction. I saw the next lane in front of us and just knew an approaching car would momentarily slam into the side of us. I braced myself for it. The car turned nearly 180 degrees as we slid back toward the shoulder, everyone shocked silent. I might have thought "this could be the end for me," but I think it was more like, "wow, so this is how it feels to be spinning out of control on an icy highway. Yikes." I saw the metal marker, a thin metal post, standing innocently at the road's edge. In a second, it was inches from my mom's window. Everyone reacted and leaned right, knowing it could rip into the side of the car or break the window.

The slope off the hill was steep and snowy. All of the interstates around Kansas City had been dry, but this on ramp was still covered in slush. At probably 45 mph, my mom didn't anticipate the slickness. I imagine she'd braked now, as we left the road. Fortunately this ditch wasn't full of rocks, just lots of tall grass and a few small wild trees. The car came to a stop at an angle. I don't remember who spoke first, probably my mom, and I told her to just put it in park. I didn't want to slide the rest of the way down the hill. Across the ditch was another smaller road, and Mark thought we had a chance to just drive out to it. Mom got out and Mark took the wheel. The car continued to slide deeper into powdery danger before the wheels refused to grab onto the soft grass. We all got out, realized the bitter wind was too unforgiving, and climbed back in to stay warm. I pulled out my camera. "Don't take pictures, Alyssa," my mom scolded. "Are you kidding?" I asked. "This is the first time I've ever been in an accident!"

I looked back up the hill. The tire marks were deep and the metal post we hit was surprisingly not flattened. Also, the side of my mom's car was undamaged from the impact. Of course, minutes after we landed in this embankment, a snow plow drove by, creating a safe and dry traveling surface. Too late. My mom called 911. We weren't exactly sure where we were. We sat in the car 20 minutes waiting for a police officer to find us. They had my mom's cell number if they couldn't. No one came. We called again, and they put us through to the Missouri Highway Patrol. My mom gave them her cell number again to call if they couldn't locate us. They said they'd send someone out.

We saw one police in the distance, but he drove through the roundabout and continued in the opposite direction. You couldn't see the car from the main highway. Several cars stopped on the side road and asked if they should call someone. We told them we had; we were just waiting, thanks. My mom didn't want to be stuck out there when it got dark. It was just before 3:30pm when it happened, but the sun sets early. My mom was relieved that her insurance covers towing, as long as we are towed by the nearest place. We aren't familiar with KC, so we called our "good neighbor" Patty Sanborn (aka State Farm Insurance Agent) to help us out. She found out who was closest and called them to let them know where we were. The tow truck showed up before too long and a wench truck followed, using a chain and mechanical crank to pull the car back up to the road. The car was still in good shape, so my mom wrote them a check (insurance will cover it) and we were back on our way.

We all had our seat belts on, and they worked. I felt my tighten as soon as the car lost control. No one was hurt (though we thought we should have told the police someone was bleeding. They never did show up or call us). An hour and a half later, we were headed home (Mark drove). It's lucky no one (not even the car) was hurt, but it was scary all the same. I told my mom that she knew I was an organ donor; you know, in case I do ever die before she does. I told her if I had long hair, she could go ahead and cut that off too so they could make a wig out of it because they probably don't think of that for regular organ donors. She said, "Did this make you think about death?" "No, I'm just saying."

We stopped at Taco Bell for dinner (Geoff's choice). Mom said, "This has been a bad day." "Oh, but Geoff's home!" I said. :-) My mom probably wouldn't be happy if she knew I was sharing this with the world. This might have been the most exciting day of my break so far. Scary, but exciting. And I lived to tell about it.

2 comments:

menard said...

WOW! that sounds like some trip! i probably would have been screaming or something! i've lost control on a gravel road, and thankfully the bit of grass i landed in had no trees around it. i hate gravel roads! i'm VERY glad none of you got hurt. and that's crazy the car didn't even get damaged from the mile marker.

Jeremy said...

That does sound scary. I'm relieved that you're okay and no one was hurt.


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