(Never mind the fact that I've been telling my wife how I need to be better about blogging..."I set a blog up for you on Handersen Publishing three months ago...?" Oh. Now you tell me. "No, I've been telling you for three months...")
On my way to work last Thursday I came across a very bad accident. What I saw will probably stay with me for the rest of my life.
I was on my way to work--running late as usual, with 2.5 minutes left to drive 2.5 miles--and saw a huge cloud of dust. I saw no other cars ahead of me at the 4-way stop, but there was--an SUV, turning left.
I was so focused on not being late that I did not actually witness her turn left, then get T-boned by a dump truck. Not a car, or a pickup truck...but a DUMP TRUCK, carrying a full load of gravel. That was the cloud of dust I saw go up. Within the count of three, I was at the 4-way stop.
Look left. All clear. Look right. Oh dear.
My brain took a few seconds to realize what I was seeing: a flipped over dump truck, now perpendicular to the road, its load spilled. Also an SUV over on the opposite side of the road, on the shoulder, planted there as if parked and checking directions, but now 40 feet from the 4-way stop.
The SUV was crushed, driver's side.
By divine timing, I believe I was on the phone to 911 in less than 30 seconds after impact--probably less than 20 seconds, actually.
As I was walking up to the SUV, already speaking to the 911 dispatcher, the driver of the dump truck suddenly popped up. The driver had managed to climb up and out of the vehicle, and now stood 12 feet off the ground. The driver looked fine. Anyone who can climb up and out of the cab of a flipped over truck like that must be okay--shaken, but otherwise okay.
My main concern was the driver of the crushed SUV--who, hopefully, did not have a car full of kids.
My hand was surprisingly steady as I pulled back the exploded air bag to see how horrific this was going to be. I was now staring at the crushed body of the driver (who shall remain anonymous out of respect).
"Can you describe the injuries, sir?" asked the 911 operator.
"--left leg is crushed, badly," I told the dispatcher. "Left arm is also crushed by the door. And....there is blood coming from the ears."
I was all alone for 3-4 minutes. It didn't feel like 'forever,' but certainly much longer than a few minutes.
I spoke to the unconscious driver, loudly, while I was describing the injuries as best I could to the 911 lady. (I found out later, from a volunteer EMT at work, that the information I was relaying to her was being 'coded' and sent to the emergency vehicles that she promised me were on the way.)
I held the driver's bloody left arm, and said dumb things like, "You're going to be okay!" "Can you hear me!" "Tell me your name!" All I knew was that I needed to keep talking to the injured driver, neck slumped back, groaning.
The driver of the dump truck, meanwhile, climbed down the under-working of the vehicle, using the axel and such to shimmy down. That driver looked out of it. Absolutely out of it, with the "1000 yard stare," as the saying goes. The dump truck driver walked over to the shoulder and sat down, staring into the fields.
Finally, another vehicle stopped. Then another, and another. Now several people were calling 911. A nice man from Canada (B.C. plates) told me to keep talking to the driver, then gave me some towels to put across the driver, to keep the driver warm.
I talked to the driver non-stop, gently holding the driver's bloodied (and probably severely broken) arm.
The EMT's arrived. The professionals were finally there, and they would know what to do.
Writing is a wonderful hobby which I hope to make a full-time job someday. But all that went out the window when I came across that scene. I'm a writer, not an EMT, so I hope I at least helped the driver somehow, someway, if only a little.
Days later, I tried to find the driver at the hospital. I wrote her a letter. But the driver, for probably quite a few reasons, cannot be located.
Please pray for that driver. I have, many times.