I’d left my house in plenty of time to get to my appointment.
Though I hadn’t counted on driving behind someone going 15 miles under the speed limit down the back road I take to avoid the traffic in town.
I tapped my nails on my steering wheel and looked around that car, trying to see if the way was clear for me to pass. You can pass on that road and I’ve done it before.
But the memory of this past weekend made me realize that even going as slow as I was, I’d still make it to my appointment on time and that if it had made me a few minutes late, it wouldn’t be a big deal.
I’m always a cautious driver anyway, preferring to wait if I’m not positive I can make it, not trusting that someone with their turn signal on is actually going to turn, not speeding…
Though I’ve been gripping the steering wheel a little tighter the past few days.
On Friday night, I was woken up by a huge BOOM that shook our house. The hall light we keep on for the boys went out and our ceiling fan whirred to a stop. Then we heard another loud noise, though not quite as loud as the first.
A transformer must have blown, my husband muttered and rolled over to go back to sleep.
I always have a hard time going back to sleep after being woken up abruptly, so I just laid there.
My two youngest share the room right across the hall from us and their window faces out toward our neighborhood, with a frequently traveled back road behind the houses across the street. I could see the red and blue lights bouncing across the walls, streaming in from their window.
I got up, thinking it had to be that curve out there, causing another accident. We’ve lived in this house for two years and I’ve lost track of the number of times a car has gone off the road at that curve. It’s not that extreme of a curve, especially to someone who grew up in the hills of Pittsburgh. Yet, for a town with very few curves, it’s considered a big one.
I stood there for a few minutes, and then I called to my husband. This wasn’t just a typical car going off the side. There’d never been THAT many emergency vehicles out there before. They were lined all down the road and more were coming, sirens blaring.
We went outside, joining a group of neighbors who were out there in the dark.
People from down the street, outside of our neighborhood, were walking down the road, and my husband walked across the neighbor’s yard to talk to them, as he recognized them.
I heard him say something like so that’s what that noise was and he told me to come over.
What remained of a pole stood about 6 or 7 feet high, while the other part of it was toppled over, on top of a car, wires low to the ground.
That car… it was hard to tell from a distance exactly what it was- was that the front all smashed in or was it tipped over and that was the underside of the car we were looking at? We figured it out… but you could tell by looking… if you hadn’t already figured it out from the crash that thundered through the neighborhood… and the way the emergency personnel were standing away from the car, not trying to get anyone out or talking to anyone in it… there wouldn’t be a survivor in there.
We stood there for a little while, a bit in shock and watching as the electric company came to do something to the wires before anyone did anything with the car.
But when they started working on the car, we went inside. I didn’t want to see what I knew they would be pulling out. Or maybe my imagination couldn’t even compare with what they did. I knew we’d find out what happened, but I didn’t want to see it.
There wasn’t a survivor.
And whatever the details surrounding the wreck, all I could think is how many times I drive on that road. And how it really could happen to anyone.
Slow down, pay attention to the road, realize getting somewhere late is better than not at all, don’t drink and drive, don’t text and drive, don’t drive tired… just be careful out there.
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