Some days you’re a bug and some days you’re a windshield

Posted: May 19, 2011 in AZ, Personal

So I’m minding my own business on the way to work today and its later than I’m usually on the I-17, around 9:00 am. I thought to myself, ‘I’ll take the highway because traffic will be good now’. Little did I know that someone was having a bad day and she was going to cause 6 other people to have a bad day too.

A few miles along, traffic slows to a stop in the three rightmost lanes (commuter lane on the far left is still moving but slow) and I’m sitting still just shy of the Indian School exit  headed South talking on the phone long distance with my oldest brother.

All of a sudden I hear screeching tires behind me and I immediately think, “Oh God, heeeeeere we go”. Time immediately slows down and to my left I see a truck flying through the air, upside down hitting a silver Lexus who was slightly ahead of me in the lane to the left. I’m also bracing for a hit to that side and behind because I know it’s coming. Sure enough I’m hit on my left side but I can’t see the car right away and I let out a noise that is half groan and half scream. I’m pushed to the right slightly into the lane next to me. I come to a stop and I realize I’m still on the phone. I say to my brother, “I was just in a major accident. I have to go.” I hang up and look out my window to the truck, now settled on its roof. I think, “I’ve got to help someone get out of there if they’re alive” because I know that I’m okay and no one else might be able to help quickly.  I’m also thinking, “I hope that thing isn’t going to catch on fire.”

Truck and Lexus to my Left

Except I can’t get out my car because the red Dodge Charger that ran into me was blocking my door. I roll down my window, climb out and over the hood of the Charger, and jump onto the road just as a guy miraculously climbs out of the truck. I approach him and ask him if he is okay and if anyone else is in the truck and thankfully there isn’t. I couldn’t get him to sit down and let me look at him and he said he used to be a race car driver and he was used to this kind of thing.

So I turn to the other cars. The guy in the silver Lexus seems okay too but he’s dazed and his car is totalled. Next I turn northward and see a young blond woman in a small black car that hit the back of the truck and she isn’t getting out. Dazed and holding her stomach, blood in her mouth, she looks like she’s in pain. Her door is open and she’s on the phone and I can see her air bags were deployed. Her car is also totalled. And then I realize her car is facing the wrong way. She spun 180 degrees during the accident. Another woman is on the scene and she is a nurse, talking to the young blond lady, who I am beginning to think caused the accident.

Young blond woman's car pointing North, in Southbound lane

I turn and walk toward a young Hispanic man, sitting in the passenger side window of his car because he can’t get out of the driver side, I guess.  He looks dazed and has superficial glass cuts on his head. Other than that, there’s nothing obvious that I can do for him so I tell him to sit still, not to move around, and wait for paramedics. The woman in the car in front of him, never gets out and seems okay.  The woman who hit me gets out and I see what I think is coffee all over her car (I later find out it was chocolate milk). Her Charger is nice with tricked out rims, racing stripes, it’s a beaut and it’s totalled. She was hit on 3 sides before her poor car then hit me on the other side.  The entire thing was like a bunch of marbles in an enclosed box, banging back and forth off of one another.

The Charge and my green Nissan beside it

Seven cars in all were involved. The guy in the flipped truck says, “I’m so pissed…I just paid off the truck…..I passed her a few miles back. She was screaming into her phone and weaving all over the road. I went past her to get away from her and she still hit me.” I hear sirens and see the police arriving. The young blond woman is, amazingly enough, applying eye liner while holding her stomach. I was astonished and began to wonder if she was drunk or on drugs because what she was doing was completely irrational. But she could have just been in shock…who knows.  Still, I hope they did a blood tox on her at the hospital.

From what the witnesses say she was going full speed and didn’t realize that traffic had slowed down. Her little black car probably hit the truck and went under it. Since the truck was still in motion, it continued forward but in the air and hit the concrete barrier in the middle of the highway. He bounced off the barrier and landed just tilted enough or turned enough to begin the flip. The truck hits the Lexus at some point in this crazy melee.

After hitting the truck, the blond’s car starts to swing to the right (maybe she bounced off the barrier, I didn’t see). But she apparently hit the red Charger, who was sitting still, and pushed her into me. The car behind me had enough room in front of her not to smash into the back of me. However the young Hispanic man must have hit her as a result of either avoiding or getting hit by the young blond woman.

In the end, 5 of the 7 cars had to be towed away and looked to be totalled to me. 3 of the 7 went to the hospital via ambulance (the young blond, the Lexus owner, and the young Hispanic man). The amazing survivor from the truck said he was going to the hospital on his own because he didn’t want to pay $800 extra for the ambulance ride. So 4 of the 7 went to the hospital right way. How many may have later gone because of stiffness or whiplash that often comes afterward, I don’t know.

I do know that I had a killer headache….due to the sudden spike in my blood pressure I’m sure. The left side of my car, which I just bought, is ruined but the frame is probably okay. I’m grateful that I wasn’t hurt and that my car wasn’t totalled.

My Car

Update: It’s over 12 hours after the accident and my back is starting to hurt….sigh.  A local news story with very limited info and the number of people who went to hospital is incorrect.

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