Some readers of Wild Muse may know from my tweets or Facebook page that my fiancé and I were in a very bad car accident last Sunday afternoon. We were traveling home from Asheville with the cruise control of Matt’s Toyota 4Runner set to 70 mph near Morganton when a Honda civic rear ended us. In broad daylight. With zero traffic around us. We were the only object on the road (we were driving in the right lane of a two-lane eastbound section of I-40), and the driver rammed right into us. We estimate the other car was traveling in excess of 90-100 mph based on our first sighting of it cresting a hill (when we were at the hill’s bottom), and the speed with which it overtook us. Matt had remarked to me, “Some bozo is driving with his hazards on,” when he had seen the car crest the hill. By the time I turned around to look out the rear window, the car was mere feet from our bumper. I saw it hit us, just as the words were forming in my brain to say, “He’s going to hit us.”
The other driver pushed us off the pavement into the grass. Matt managed to decelerate the truck a bit, but then we flipped several times and landed up-side-down in a ditch at the tree line. I remember thinking that he might control the truck to slow down and that it would be bumpy, but that we’d be okay. I remember seeing nothing but grass in front of us. But then the truck bucked, there was a cloud of dust in front of the windshield, and then we were up-side-down and spinning. The windows exploded. Glass flew everywhere. Dust streamed into the cab. I couldn’t stop screaming. I don’t know what was coming out of my mouth, but “No!” was the thought running through my head. “No, this CAN’T be how it ends,” I was thinking, because in the instant that we started flipping and the glass began flying, it occurred to me that one or the other of us, or both, could die. Right then. My head was slung to the right and the left, and I remember thinking it felt like we were in a flat spin. At some point, my head hit something and I remember the feeling of something soft splitting under pressure, like an apricot bursting. It was the side of my face, near my right eye, splitting open.
When we came to a stop, Matt reached over and touched me and asked if I was okay. I said yes, I think so. I remember that he then undid his seat belt, and fell to the “floor” which was the truck’s roof. We have to get out!, he said, and he crawled out a window frame where glass used to be. I put my hand to my head and then looked at my palm, which was smeared in bright red blood. I’m bleeding, I screamed, flailing to find my seatbelt button. It unclipped and I too dropped to the roof. Matt reached in with his long arms and helped pull me out. I don’t remember this, but he says that I was hysterical and would not stop screaming. I could tell by the way he looked at me that something was wrong with the side of my face. He took off his shirt and pressed it to my head. Later, when the EMT’s got there, I tried to get up. But no one would let me sit up. They kept pushing me back down and telling me not to move. We went to the ER of Grace Hospital in an ambulance, but all the imaging came back clean. Nothing broken or bleeding inside my head or neck, and nothing broken in Matt’s head or neck. The other driver refused to go to the hospital, which heightens my suspicion that drugs or alcohol were involved.
In the end, by some slice of random chance, we were not seriously hurt. My worst injuries were confined to an inch-long cut above my right eye (4 stitches, nicely healing), three bruises on the right side of my head, and lacerations on my right shoulder where I must have rolled into the passenger-side window, or it crushed in on me, who knows which. We’re still dumbfounded as to how both of us survived. Matt has a very deep bruise on his hip, some cuts from the glass, and a sore neck and low back. My shoulder is still very sore, and my left index finger isn’t working too well (it’s badly sprained, but not broken, got it x-rayed yesterday… it swelled up so fat I couldn’t bend it).
A few days after the accident, Matt remarked to me, “That was very close to being vehicular manslaughter.” We’re both still reeling from the idea that we could have lost each other Sunday night. Each time Matt leaves the house in his rental car, I worry that it might be the last time I may see him. We both worry that we may have long-lasting neck or back problems because of the other driver’s extreme negligence and possibly criminal actions.
Personally, I think his license should be revoked for several years. He is not a safe driver — he very nearly killed both of us, and our future together. He should also be forced to take drug and alcohol education classes, and be forced to do community service talking to middle- and high-schoolers about driving safety.
These are a few of the pictures: