July 26, 2001
It is so strange how life twists and turns. I was on my way to Canada. Somewhere in Pennsylvania it was raining. A car stormed past me at something like 90 mph, with one person in the car, driving one handed.
Moments later I crested a hill and saw at the bottom that his car was barrel rolling into the grassy median. When I arrived on the scene I pulled over onto the shoulder, grabbed my phone and ran down about 100 yards to help.
Other people were starting to stop. The driver got out, and was ok, just shaken and a little bloody on one finger. Airbags had deployed, the trunklid had opened, his luggage was strewn about. The guardrail was mangled. The car was ruined and the driver was very lucky.
I was on the phone with 911 asking for a wrecker and police assistance. My attention was on the accident, my back was turned and I didn't hear or see anything happen. Then I turned around.
My car was completely totaled. I only know what other people told me since I didn't witness the incident. The car behind mine was also heavily damaged. I went back to my car and the remaining hazard lights were still flashing, the engine still running as smoothly as ever. It was a sad sight.
I couldn't open the driver's door to shut it off, but that was ok. All the windows were shattered and I just stood there (away from the traffic) and looked at my old car.
Apparently, there was a couple in the car stopped behind mine. The woman was in the driver's seat while the man ran down to help with the first accident. While we were parked there a semi-truck ran into both our cars, put its signal on to indicate it was pulling over, and then proceeded to flee.
No one got any identification. Witnesses couldn't even agree on the color of the truck. The police tried to look for it but came up empty. Fortunately, no one in this whole melee was hurt.
Incidentally the couple behind me had left from the same town in Virginia at the same time as I did. Then we stopped at the same place and got hit by the same truck. The strangest thing is that just minutes earlier we had both been flipping through the local radio stations and had both heard the AC/DC song "Highway to Hell"!
Luckily for them their car was driveable and after doing the police paperwork they were able to continue. I sat at a garage in the middle of nowhere for 6 hours with the guy who flipped his car. My luggage looked like it had been on the set of the movie "Cast Away". There was even broken glass inside my cooler, such was the force of the impact.
We had lunch at the diner next door and over soup and hot chocolate I reflected on what had happened. I had meant to keep my car forever. It was nothing special, just an old car. But it was the first one I bought with my own money back in college.
I had gone everywhere and had a lot of good memories with it. I learned all about working on cars with it and had just replaced part of the brakes with my neighbor. It had just turned 170,000 miles.
To see it there with the roof crumpled, the wheels bent, tires flat, glass shattered and about a foot shorter than it used to be was disheartening. It was like seeing a mortally wounded friend utter his last words. You could say I was a little sentimental about that car.
After clearing out my luggage and personal belongings I got a rental car and drove the rest of the way to Canada. It was a Chevy Cavalier but it just seemed like it was a product of Disney and Little Tykes. But it ran.
On the way up a work van passed me. Part of its advertising said "Does your car have a ding?"
I'm just glad I wasn't in the car during the accident because I probably wouldn't be writing this. But I wouldn't change a thing. There was nothing else I would have done.
I arrived at the inn in Canada and went straight to bed. It was 1:30 a.m. and I had to be at the track first thing in the morning. It was not the best way to start a race weekend.