Last year, only a couple days into 2015, I was in a car crash on the freeway that resulted in our car getting totaled. The engine literally went crunch. Another car tried to make an exit that they were never going to make, but shot across four lanes anyway… My partner was driving and saw it coming in time to slow down a lot but momentum is momentum.
Luckily, no one was hurt and a witness — a very keen witness with an emergency roadside kit in trunk — pulled over to help. Usually rear-ending someone is a sure sign that you’re at fault but that was absolutely not what happened.
My memories of the experience are in stop motion. I remember three things before we were out of the car: I saw the collision coming in time to think “We’re going to hit them”, my glasses were gone and something (the airbag) had just hit me in the face, and I was trying to get my door open while my partner insisted we get out asap. Then we were out on the somewhat triangular island between our shoulder of the freeway, the exit, and an overpass.
The next thing I knew, my partner was yelling at the idiot who’d cut in front of us in the tone usually reserved for the dog when he’s caught eating poop.
It turned out that the people in the other car were a middle-aged couple with kids about our age. The woman was very upset, apologized a lot, and wrapped her coat around me because I’m pretty sure I was shaking. Her husband, who’d been driving, didn’t say a lot. I didn’t really listen, though. I was mostly just staring at the grass, which seemed very green and weirdly big without my glasses on. My vision is not great so that was about the only thing I could look at and it not be blurry. In all the confusion it was a while before my partner realized my glasses were missing and found them, miraculously unbroken, in the back seat of the car — but for a while we were keeping away from the vehicles entirely because ours was still hanging out into the far right lane. Luckily no one hit it, for which we probably have the keen young man with the roadside kit and some sort of reflective triangle he put out in the road to catch the attention of oncoming traffic. And it was early afternoon, so the light was still perfectly good for everyone coming to see and avoid. As I said, the engine had gone crunch (the second time, because we’d sort of bounced back and then hit again before everything skidded to a stop) and we weren’t able to get the car safely onto the shoulder until a cop car came and literally pushed it the rest of the way out of the lane.
When I say no one was hurt, I meant no one was seriously injured. I did hurt. A lot. In addition to the seatbelt bruise, whiplash, and airbag punch to the face, my partner had thrown out a protective arm to keep me from jerking forward too fast and nailed me in the ribs. I’m completely sure that this saved me from a broken nose, but it did bruise my ribs a bit and a day or two later I was prescribed a very mild painkiller.
But I did go to the ER that day. First was the inevitable call to my mom on the way there, and I told her I was okay but she cried therefore I started crying again. At the ER, they put me in a neck brace and took me aside to make sure I didn’t have any serious injuries lurking in there somewhere.
The worst part was when I started freaking out during the EKG. They put something on my right hand, but then my fingers on both hands started hurting and I was breathing too fast and panicking and asking the nurse if it was supposed to hurt. It wasn’t; this was just my first panic attack. Ta-da!
So that was an awful day. Between the pain and the medication, it was at least a week before I felt like a human being again. But I’m grateful that no one was seriously hurt and that everything worked financially! The other driver’s insurance paid me back for all of my medical expenses, which was a serious relief after those hospital bills. A few weeks later my partner bought a replacement car used and it came with, amazingly, a really cool sound system with bluetooth capability. A month and a half later we moved into our first apartment together. Everything turned out okay.