1.28.2012

So My Van Ended Up in a Ditch

I debated on whether or not to write this one because I am loathe to re-visit the scene.  But I’ve already re-visited it a thousand times in my head, so one more time is not going to hurt much.  Maybe it will be therapeutic.  I find it amusing that my last post was about a potentially dangerous situation with a dog, and this one is about an authentically dangerous car accident.  The Farris Wheel is an action movie these days.

Two days ago, we had torrential downpours.  I didn’t want to go to the grocery store that day before picking up the kids from school, but when you gotta go, you gotta go.  It was a grocery emergency.  The back seats were laying flat in the back of my Toyota Sienna swagger wagon van, so I loaded all my bags into that flat area.  No stability for them. 

Then I got into the driver’s seat and made my first mistake.  I did not buckle up.  Please, please don’t berate me, I have already berated myself enough.  Maybe I have been lulled into a false sense of security, living in a small town where there is zero traffic.  It was not even a conscious decision not to buckle up, but subconsciously I knew that I was only about to drive a couple of blocks to the school.  Everything in my town is within five minutes’ driving distance, and I was about to drive for a total of two.

The road leading up the hill to the school is a dangerous one.  I’ve even taken note of that before, on other days.  It has no shoulder whatsoever, only an abysmal ditch on either side.  I doubt it’s the kind of thing that would ever be fixed around here, but it certainly needs to be.

So I made the right turn on to the dangerous road, and as I made the turn, I heard the unfortunate sound of groceries rolling around behind me.  Milk, bread, apples, and mixed in with them all, my bag full of women’s Bible study books that I had recently purchased for my ladies at church had tipped over and spilled out.  It was a back seat disaster. 

And then it all happened so fast.  I glanced over my right shoulder to assess the grocery damage, but glancing over my right shoulder inadvertently caused my steering wheel to turn ever-so-slightly to the right, as well.  I am pretty certain I was also hitting a puddle of pooled rainwater at the same moment.  I lost control.  The van was going off the road and it was turning, turning, bumping, falling over to the right.  Not flipping over completely, but the left tires and right tires were almost vertical in the ditch when the motion stopped.

I was thrown like a rag doll.

In that moment, I heard the name of Jesus coming out of my mouth over and over.  No thought process involved, it was just coming out somehow.  I knew I was having a wreck, I knew I was terrified, and I knew God was there.  When it stopped, my head and torso were in the passenger-side floorboard (the low part of the ditch) and my feet were up in the driver’s seat.  I was upside down, literally.  I was shaking and crying and still calling on Jesus.  But I was not seriously injured. 

I righted myself and crawled up, against gravity, to the driver’s seat, where I saw a car coming down the hill in the opposite direction.  I waved for help, and a kind man pulled over and came running over and opened the van door up. 

“I’m OK,” I said, and he pulled me out. 

I waited in the car with him and his son until the police came, and my husband came.  And then we watched a wrecker perform the incredible task of towing that sucker out of the ditch.  Of course it was damaged, all along the right side of the vehicle.  The back window had gotten knocked out.  I am damaged, too…a knot on my head, nasty bruises all over the right side of my body, a traumatic memory to work through, and some embarrassment and plenty of regret.

But it could have been so much worse.  I could have been going faster.  The front widows could have shattered on me.  I could have hit my head harder.  The children could have been with me.  Another car could have been involved.  I am so grateful.  Grateful beyond words for God’s mercy.

The wreck happened because I was distracted.  We forget so easily that it only takes a split second of distraction for a wreck to happen.  I won’t go through the litany of possible distractions for drivers because we all know what they are.  And I won’t go through the sobering statistics that are out there about distracted drivers.  Believe me, they’re out there.  Just let my own story be a reminder to you, friends and loved ones, to keep your eyes on the road at all times.

And I can tell you this.  I will never neglect to wear my seatbelt again.


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