The Night I Almost Swallowed My Heart

Have you ever been awakened from a dead sleep by something that normally wouldn’t wake you up and then something happens that you would have missed if you had been asleep?  This was something that happened to me a couple of years ago. 

It was about 4 a.m. and I awoke to the cat scratching furiously on the door to get in from our patio to our bedroom.  I let her in and then stumbled to the bathroom so I wouldn’t be awakened later by my small bladder and need to frequently go to the bathroom. I figured this would give me at least 2 or 3 more hours uninterrupted sleep before I had to get up.  #1 was not living at home (away at college) and #2 had moved back home but had gone to a concert and was staying with friends and #3 was still in high school but was staying with friends.  It was very early on Sunday morning. 

As I’m sitting on the toilet I hear sirens and I’m thinking to myself “Wow, this is awfully early for someone to be up on a Sunday morning” and then I stumbled back to bed.  I was almost asleep when I heard the cat throw up.  Great!!  So I get back up and clean up the cat throw up, scrub the carpet and my hands and fall back into bed.  I am almost asleep again when hubby says “Was that the doorbell?”  Mind you, our doorbell does not ring.  It has not worked since we moved in our house.  It makes a weird very low urrrrggghhh sound and if you’re not sitting in the living room you usually do not hear it.  Our bedroom is across the house from the chimer (which does not work). 

I mumble to hubby “Who in the world would be at our door at 4:30 in the morning (by now it’s almost 4:30).  Hubby says “I swear I think that was the doorbell.”  So he climbs out of bed to go check the door and I throw on my robe, find my slippers and then follow him out to the living room and as I get near the door I hear an unfamiliar man’s voice say “We don’t think the injuries are life threatening but you might want to get to Grady as soon as you can.”  WTH??? 

First off, I don’t know who it is that is at my door.  Secondly, I don’t know who they are talking about because none of our kids are home at the moment.  Thirdly, who in the heck would we know that would be at Grady? 

As I walk up to the door I see there are two uniformed Georgia State Highway Patrolmen standing on our stoop and a look of shock on hubby’s face.  Who?  What?  What’s going on????  My knees went weak and my heart felt like it was stuck in my throat.  The officers asked hubby if we were going to be okay to drive to downtown Atlanta to Grady and then shook my husband’s hand, told us to drive carefully and left.  I had a million questions as I was shakily trying to throw on my clothes. 

Apparently #2 had gone to her concert and then gone to her friend’s house afterwards for a few hours and then decided to drive home.  She was almost exactly a mile from our house when she apparently fell asleep at the wheel and drove off the left side of the road.  The road is very rough in that section and despite my repeatedly telling her NOT to, she always drove down the wrong side of the road right through that part because she didn’t like to “mess up her tires” on the rough stretch.  If only that was all she had to worry about.  When her driver’s side tires hit the gravel on the side of the road it apparently woke her up as she hit the mailbox and over corrected to get back on the road.  She was driving an older model Ford Explorer and when she jerked the wheel to bring the car back on the road the car flipped.  According to the police officer it flipped end over end about 5 or 6 times.  It came to rest on the driver’s side with her arm out the window and the vehicle laying on her arm.   

Front view of car


The impact broke every single piece of glass out of the vehicle (including head and tail lights) and since it flipped so many times, there was glass and personal belongings from the vehicle strewn for almost a mile down the road.  The only thing left in the vehicle was #2 because she was wearing her seat belt.  The impact rendered her unconscious and she had lain there unconscious breathing in the gas fumes for over an hour until two women happened to drive by and find her.  And apparently anyone in the vicinity of Atlanta who receives a head trauma that renders them unconscious in a motor vehicle accident is transported to Grady. 

Drivers side


At first they thought she was inebriated because she came to briefly when they were trying to cut her clothes off of her before they put her in the ambulance and they considered her “combative”.  Her response was “If you woke up and a bunch of men you didn’t know were trying to rip off your clothes wouldn’t you fight too?”  Can’t say I blame her there, especially when she wasn’t aware of what was going on.  They also said they had found a broken wine bottle and liquor bottle at the scene so they thought she was drinking.  She admitted she had been drinking WAY earlier but that was why she had stayed at her friends for so long so she had sobered up.  Her birthday had been the day before and someone had given her the bottle of liquor for her birthday.  If they had paid attention they would have noticed that the seal was still intact.  I know because I found that on the side of the road.  They only found the broken bottle and immediately thought she was drinking it. As for the wine bottle, it was empty.  She has a friend who collects unusual wine bottles and she had found it weeks earlier and it was in her car for when she saw her friend again.  I don’t know why they didn’t bother to do a blood alcohol test if they thought she was inebriated. 

From the back


another angle


They had to use “the jaws of life” to cut the top of the car off to get her out of the vehicle and the officer had told us that when they drove up on the scene of the accident they thought that her arm had been amputated since they only say part of her arm sticking out from under the vehicle.  The gas ran out of the vehicle as she say there and there are still “burns” on the road from where the gasoline seared the road.  She lay there for over an hour inhaling those fumes which I’m sure contributed to her confused state. 

"Chemical burn" from gas leaking onto road


Gouge in the road from impact of car


I cannot believe after what she had been through she wasn’t more injured than she was.  She was in and out of consciousness for several hours after the accident and well into the morning.  Other than the cuts and contusions on her arms and leg she had some serious bruising on her face.  They found out a couple of days later that she broke the bones underneath her eye (her cheekbone area) but other than that, miraculously, nothing else was broken.  They ended up keeping her in Grady for 5 days.  I think it’s because they are always in threat of being shut down because they have no money so that when they finally got a patient that actually had insurance they kept her as long as possible. 

Close up of her face, see the cuts are healing nicely below her lip


This was a couple weeks after the wreck


You can see the roadburn on her hand


close up of the inside of her hand


bruise healing nicely on the inside of her arm


Most of these pictures of her were taken weeks after her accident so that gives you a sense of just how bruised she actually was.  Her car of course was a total loss but that was nothing.  A vehicle is material and can be replaced.  I feel so lucky and blessed that she had no further injuries than she did and no long lasting effects.  I told her she needs to get down on her hands and knees every day and kiss the ground and thank God that she’s still here.  I am so thankful for the blessings I have been given.


About pegbur7

South of the Mason/Dixon Line
This entry was posted in Just Life, Stories About My Kids, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to The Night I Almost Swallowed My Heart

  1. NikNik says:

    Seeing these pictures again makes me sick to my stomach with fear of what could have been. We are truly blessed. Love you Mama!

  2. Carol says:

    I cannot imagine what terrors you went through that morning! How fortunate that your daughter wasn’t seriously injured and your family is still intact. Being a parent is truly a roller coaster ride!

  3. Jenny says:

    Peggy, I have always had that fear….every time I hear a siren I think…where is my family? I am so glad she came through that awful accident. You have 3 beautiful daughters!!

    • pegbur7 says:

      Thanks Jenny. And when they leave home it’s worse but at least it’s not a constant because every night you’re not waiting for them to come home. Thanks for stopping by and reading. I didn’t know you ever read this.

      • Jenny says:

        I love reading your stories…I think I’ve read them all! You really should write a book, you are so good at it! I wished we lived closer so we could visit.Have a great week!

      • pegbur7 says:

        Thanks Jenny. I had no idea! I wish we lived closer too. Now that I’m not working I need to make it a point to come down sometime. Maybe Dwight can get a long weekend or something, after we get back from VA.

      • Jenny says:

        That would be great…just give us a call.

  4. dwight says:

    The greatest treasures Peggy and I have are our 3 beautiful daughters. Now that all 3 are on their own,we worry more. They are the love of our lives. I know that Peggy’s has always put the girls first in her life.She has always wanted to be a mom. She is the very best mom any child could ask for.This blog aimost killed Peggy. I truly know how much our kids mean to us. Every night after work,I would drive to Grady and get food to Sara. I would take food to the nurses also. I think that is the reason they keep her for almost a week! They got to see the whole Restaurant menu!!!!

  5. suzicate says:

    I had only seen the pics of the car not of Sara….wow, breaks my heart to see how much pain she endured. I know that was excruciating for you guys. Very blessed indeed. Love you all.

    • pegbur7 says:

      The ones we took in the hospital didn’t come out (I guess that is a good thing) so the only ones we have that you can see are these that her friend took a few weeks afterwards. It looks a lot better in these pics than it did at first. She (and we) are indeed blessed. I know you’ve been through similar so you know how it is.

  6. Dear God, Peg! Every parents worst nightmare! I’m so glad she made it okay, but that is just a horrid thing to live through. So lucky it wasn’t worse!

  7. I don’t even want to know what that feels like Peg. The fact that you had to go through it with your husband chills me. I’m so glad she’s okay, definitely blessed, and hopefully moving forward as smoothly as she can.
    (Love her name by the way. God’s Princess indeed.) 🙂

  8. Ron says:

    OH. MY. GOD…I’m looking at these photos of the car and thinking, “HOLY COW!!!”

    What a miracle!

    I know I’m not a parent, but I truly feel what it’s like to BE a parent and worry about a child. I can just feel it in my heart.

    (((( Peg )))))

    Hope you’re having a great day, my dear friend!


  9. Heather says:

    I think your angel is actually your weak bladder. It kept you from harm in traffic and now it had you awake for that gawd awful ring in the night that no parent ever wants to hear or miss for that matter.

    She was a very lucky girl and you both are very blessed to still have her.

    • pegbur7 says:

      Maybe you’re right, Heather. At least next time I think about complaining about my weak bladder I should think long and hard first how it’s helped me out!

  10. Wow, what a terrible scary night for you. Your daughter is extremely lucky that her injuries were not severe and that she was found as soon as she was- it could have been much longer.

    I swear as a parent once your kids are able to be out of your eyesight for any extended period of time you will always sleep with one eye open wide.

  11. terrepruitt says:

    When this came up on my blog roll I couldn’t read it. Then I skimmed through the pictures still unable to read it. This was a difficult one to read. Not that I have children or have ever been in an accident, it is just scary. Poor you (and hubby). Poor #2.

    Falling alseep at the wheel is up there in causes of accidents.

    I can understand her being combative. Just like she said.

    Do you think she didn’t get more injured because she was asleep? Don’t they say that a relaxed body is better in a crash? So instead of her seeing what was coming and bracing for it. She could have just been knocked out while she slept and so her body just was relaxed.

    Whew! This is a scary post! My heart was racing reading it!

    • pegbur7 says:

      She woke up when she the shoulder of the road but was knocked out sometime during crash so I guess she was relaxed whether she wanted to be or not!

  12. LisaF says:

    I read in horror every patent’s worst nightmare. While I can’t empathize, I certainly can sympathize with every emotion that ran through your body that night. The courage it took to write this story and post the photos are a testament to you and your husband’s emotional strength.

    We can’t be everywhere with our kids, but we can certainly fervently pray for their safety. Fleets of guardian angels were certainly on duty that night! Thanks be to God for sparing your daughter that night.

  13. I received the late night call from the Ontario Provinical Police on New Year’s Day, 2007, a month before my wedding. My husband had been in a nasty accident. The other driver passed on the shoulder of the highway dragging my husband’s car in the ditch with him. Thanks be to God that my husband walked away from the crash. I’m so thankful that your daughter walked away too. Sadly, so many people don’t. It’s incredible to believe that anyone could survive the mangled wrecks left behind at the accident scene. Your daughter’s guardian angel was working overtime that night!

    • pegbur7 says:

      So glad your hubby was okay. I tell my daughter that she should kiss the ground daily and send up thanks that she is still here. She has no clue how close she came to not being.

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