An Unexpected Run (10-17-12)

I didn’t intend to run last night, but an unexpected event made it necessary.

There was a serious car accident that occurred in front of my neighbor’s house.  A woman, who had allegedly been drinking at a local bar, was speeding down our road and slammed her small vehicle into the side of my next-door neighbor’s parked Ford F-150 truck.  The impact was so great that the truck was pushed across the street and through the fence of a nearby school!

The car’s airbag deployed and the woman’s head had hit the windshield.  A bunch of people came from nearby houses and restaurants to assist her.  My husband and I also tried to help.  I called 911 and calmly explained the details of the accident to the dispatcher.  Then we tried to get the woman to open her car door so we could examine her injuries.  We could see through the window that she had hit her head and it was bleeding.  There was also a lot of smoke in the vehicle, probably due to the chemicals in the airbag.

We asked the woman to open the door.

“I’m fine,” she said, “I’m fine.”

Someone tried telling her that she was not fine, that she was bleeding from her head.

“I’m fine,” she repeated, “I’m fine.”

The woman was obviously in shock and confused.  One of the good samaritans who had come to assist was ready to break open a window with his fist to get her out of the car, but my husband convinced him not to.

I went up to the door and said in my elementary school teacher voice, “I’m glad you feel fine.  That’s a good sign!  We just need you to open the door.  There should be a little button that you can push up so you can open the door.  Just push the button.”

Finally, she opened the door.  “I’m fine,” she repeated.  Her forehead was covered in blood, but facial lacerations usually bleed a lot even when they’re superficial.  Her cut didn’t seem to be serious, but she likely had a concussion.

“Does anyone have any water?” Someone asked.

My husband ran into our house to get some bottled water.  “Bring a towel, too,” I told him.  He returned with the water and a washcloth.

“Don’t worry, the police and an ambulance will be here soon,” someone told the woman.

“No, no,” she said, shaking her head, “I’m fine.  I’m fine.”

“That’s good that you think you’re fine.  That’s a good sign,” I replied, “But you have a head injury and they just need to check it out to make sure you’re ok.”

The police arrived a moment later and began questioning the woman.  She knew her age (45) and her name.

Our neighbor’s daughter turned to me and said, “I went to school with her daughter, but I don’t know her anymore.  Someone should let her know what happened.”

“Do you have her number?” I asked.

“No, but she lives somewhere on this street,” she replied.

“Let me see if I can find it,” I opened up the White Pages app on my cell phone and entered the woman’s last name.  An address that was about a mile away popped up, but the phone number was unlisted.

“I have the address, but no number,” I said, “I’ll run down to her house and let her family know what happened.”

“That’s far,” said our neighbor, “It’s way down the road.”

Six months ago, I would have agreed.  A mile seemed pretty far back then… That was before I started running.

“I’m a runner, it’s not far for me,” I replied.

“Let me drive down there,” said the neighbor’s daughter.  I looked at the emergency vehicles that were blocking the driveways.  There was no way we were going to be able to drive there.

I ran into our house and switched into my running shoes.  I also grabbed a headlamp that my husband had bought me for my birthday.  Then I ran down the street.

I usually don’t run in the dark, and I never wear my glasses while running.  It definitely felt unusual, not being able to see all that well because of my glasses and the lack of light.  The headlamp helped a lot, though.  I used it to guide my way along the side walk and, as I approached where I thought the woman’s house might be, I was able to examine the house numbers until I found the right one.

I rang the doorbell, waited 30 seconds, and then knocked on the door.  Nothing.

“One more time,” I thought.  I rang the doorbell again, waited, and knocked again.  This time a middle-school aged boy answered the door.

“Hi, are you related to ___ ____?” I said the woman’s name.

“Yes,” he said.  A small terrier started to try to come out of the doorway and greet me.  I patted its head and pushed it gently back into the house.

“_____ was involved in a serious motor vehicle accident just down the road.  Is there an adult home who I can speak to?”

“Just my older sister,” he said.

“Could you get her for me, please?” I asked.

He closed the door and I heard footsteps.  Then a young woman opened the door again.

“Yes?”  she said.  I repeated my message.

“Oh, ok,” she seemed a little confused and worried.

“You may want to come down to where the accident happened.  It’s right in front of the school by the _____’s house.”

“Ok, thank you,” she said and closed the door.

I ran back to the scene and, by the time I got there, the young woman had arrived, in search of her mom.

“They took her away already,” said our neighbor.  I watched for a moment as the young woman examined the vehicle and spoke to the neighbors about what had happened, then I went inside.

My husband later told me that the woman had been given a sobriety test while I was gone and that she failed it and was taken away in the ambulance in handcuffs.  She must have been driving really fast to have hit the truck and pushed it across the street like that!  If it hadn’t have been parked there, she would have hit a house and died for sure.  She also may have killed someone in their house!

So, what’s the lesson here anyway?  I say it could be, “Don’t drink and drive,” and, “Don’t live near a bar, if you can help it,” and, “Life is precious, and fleeting, and there are no guarantees.”  Of course, for me the lesson was,”Being able to run is useful in a crisis.  Keep running!”


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