It’s Mama Kat’s time again. This week I chose prompt #1.) Did you create a list of 22 things you’ve done in your life for last week’s Writer’s Workshop? This week, choose one item from your list and elaborate! We want the story.
I chose #10: Survived an accident where my car hydroplaned across 6 lanes of traffic and into a ravine without a scratch.
I used to work in the Buckhead section of Atlanta. I usually got off work between 5 and 6 but usually didn’t leave until about 6 because that would put me pretty much at the end of rush hour traffic. I also would usually drive home mostly back roads rather than get on the interstate because the interstate would be so congested.
I am one of those people that hate to sit in traffic. If I was driving on the interstate either going to work or on my way home and I saw the traffic slowing to a stop I’d get off at the next exit (I didn’t care which one it was) and make my way home. I have always been one of those people that explore roads so I had found how to get to work and back home from every conceivable area. I can get off on any exit and find my way home. I’d rather be moving at 20 miles per hour than sitting still on the interstate. Needless to say, sometimes those areas don’t happen to be the nicest areas of the city but I’ve never had any real trouble.
One of my most traveled ways home from Buckhead was going through several residential areas and then I’d end up crossing the infamous and notorious “Bankhead Highway”. Ever heard of the “Bankhead Bounce”? Or Bankhead Homes? Bankhead Homes was a very well known housing project in the Atlanta area, even the mailmen sometimes refused to go into that area because of all the shootings and other crimes. Anyway, on my way home I would cross over Bankhead Highway about a block or two from Bankhead Homes on Fulton Industrial Boulevard which took you by Charlie Brown airport and then I’d pick up Interstate 20 on the west side and head home.
I think this was probably in October (late in the month) of 2002. #2 was a senior in high school. It was volleyball season and I was president of the Volleyball Booster Club for her school volleyball team so lots of times I used the long drive to and from work to make my phone calls and such to touch base with the coach or other parents. I realize it probably wasn’t the smartest thing in the world to do, especially
since my car was a manual transmission and I didn’t use a hands free device for the phone. I guess I was just used to multitasking so I never thought of it as being unsafe.
For some reason all these little details are etched in my brain, but, I clearly remember I was on the phone with the volleyball coach and it was raining cats and dogs. I had been sitting at the red stop
light talking to the coach and I was holding the phone between my ear and shoulder with my shoulder because I was changing gears. At that light when you cross Bankhead it goes from a 2 lane road to like 6 lanes and it only stayed that way for about a mile or so before it went back to 2 lanes again. I distinctly remember I was behind a tractor trailer and had pulled over to the right lane to pass him before it went back to 2 lanes again.
I hadn’t even made it to 4th gear yet. In fact I clearly remember that I was changing from 3rd to 4th. I had my left foot on the clutch and was in the process of changing gears. I believe I had just popped it into neutral to put it in 4th when I hit the puddle of water. I never even saw the puddle. All I know is all of a sudden my car shot out in front of the tractor trailer I was passing like I’d been shot out of a cannon. I even remember telling the coach “Hold on, hold on, hold on!” as my car skidded across the entire road barely missing the tractor trailer that was beside me moments before and barely squeaking by an oncoming car and another tractor trailer (it was an industrial area). It was just getting dark so I did have my lights on (besides in GA you have to have your lights on when it rains) and I vaguely remember seeing a telephone pole coming quickly towards me but somehow completely missed it too.
After my car quit moving I remember that my foot was still on the clutch. I calmly picked up my phone off the floorboard where I’d dropped it from its precarious perch between my ear and shoulder. The coach was yelling “Are you ok? What happened?” I just said “I’m gonna have to call you back… I just wrecked my car…” She was freaking out but I assured her I was ok and I’d call her back and then I called my husband and fell apart emotionally.
I gathered my wits about me (or what I had left), assessed that I was ok and got out of the car. The car had narrowly missed a telephone pole. It had actually passed between the guy wire and the actual pole and went over the embankment at the only spot where it could have without flipping. I think it actually left the ground and went airborne for a few seconds but landed in a flat grassy area where it then slid
for quite a ways before it came to rest against a pile of used tires that someone had illegally dumped!
Someone was definitely looking out for me on that day. Since it came to rest against the tires instead of the illegally dumped appliances and whatnot it was cushioned and did no external damage to the car. The only damage to the car was that the front (I think it was the front) driver’s tire and rim got popped and bent where it impacted the curb and when the wrecker pulled the car out it pulled some of the
underpinning from the bottom of the car. That was it!
The scariest part, to me, was that after I got out of the car, in the pouring rain and I literally had to claw my way up the embankment in the mud and slush and looked back at my car I realized that you couldn’t even see my car from the road. No lights, nothing! I realized then and there how people can run off a road and be hurt or killed and no one find them for days or weeks. If I hadn’t almost hit that truck NO ONE would have even known I was there.
Thankfully the truck driver that I was passing saw the whole thing and he turned around and came back to try to find me. He stood there with me in the pouring rain because I didn’t want to get in his truck and get ti all wet. He was amazed that I wasn’t hurt and he waited with me until the wrecker and hubby showed up. I had it towed because the tire and rim was messed up and at that point we had no idea if there was any damage to the car. Plus it was dark and raining and we couldn’t see that there was no more damage to it.
And since I worked for a chiropractor I went in the next day and got adjusted and got a massage a couple times that week and adjustments every day and I was fine. All in all, I consider myself one very lucky woman. I know in my heart that there were angels or some higher power there protecting me and keeping me safe from harm. I am very grateful that I was spared.