It was my last trip of the day. I was driving two passengers
from the airport to their home near 15th street, taking the IH 35 feeder road northbound. I cruised through the light
at 8th street and was passing through the light at the intersection of IH 35 and 11th street when I noticed a car to my left
that just kept coming.
It was a Zen moment -- time seemed almost to stop -- and I saw that the car
wasn't stopping and an impact was inevitable. I looked up at the double-hung light and the two green glass circles glowed
and twinkled back at me. I may have closed my eyes as the next sequence of events happened. I think I may have
warned my passengers, but I'm not sure what I said.
First, I heard (and felt) the unmistakable sound of her car hitting
my door with its full force and I was thrown to the right, my body straining against my seat belt. She hadn't applied
her brakes at all, the police said there were no skid marks. Then I felt the car begin to roll. First their was
the sound of crunching metal and breaking glass on the passengers' side, then the roof began caving in as it completed the
roll and landed on the roof. The roof above my head had caved in to resemble a letter "M", so as the car continued to
slide on its roof, the top of my head was being dragged across the pavement until the momentum finally gave out.
Passenger Side Damage
The car completed it's roll onto the passenger side, and came to a
rest at an angle, tilted front-to-back, with the front end on the ground and the back end in the air.
I was hanging upside down, my head grinding
into the pavement, with all my weight pressing downward, straining against the seatbelt.
I put my hand to the top of my head, trying to adjust the kink in my neck, but couldn't. I looked at my fingers, certain there would be blood from my scalp, but I was relieved and surprised that there
was none! I tried to ask if my passengers were okay, but I couldn't get
any words out, and it was growing more difficult to breathe from the bend and pressure
on my throat. I started trying to call for help as I struggled with the seatbelt, and began to panic. I felt like
I was suffocating. Finally I got the belt latch unfastened, my body dropped
down to the roof of the car and I could breathe again. One of my legs was trapped in the folded interior and I couldn't understand why I was still lying at
an angle that made me feel
like I was still upside down!
I hadn't heard a word from my passengers and couldn't see anything outside the
car except through the limited view of the driver's side window, which had been crushed down to the tops of the car seats,
leaving an opening too small for me to crawl out of. It took a lot of wiggling to get into position just to get most
of my weight off of my head. Although it's taken me many words to describe the situation, it had only been a few moments
when the first person looked in the window to see what condition I was in. I think it was a woman, and may have been
one of my passengers, but I honestly don't remember. I believe she told me that help was on the way, and the next person
who looked in was a policeman who evidently had just arrived on the scene. He told me my passengers were okay, and that
everything would be all right.
I remember asking him why the person who hit me hadn't stopped. "She ran
the light," I said, becoming angry and beginning to cry. I believe I was in shock, and was later told I had a concussion.
Frantic that I couldn't get out, I began hunting through the debris in the small, crumpled space for my purse. I found
it, and without thinking of the ridiculousness of it, grabbed my cell phone like a lifeline. I remember a woman paramedic
telling me not to talk on the phone and to be still, but I ignored her. I had to call my husband, and when I got him
on the phone, all I could think to say was, "I'm upside down!"
The paramedic grabbed the phone away from me and hung up on my him, which triggered
a flurry of calls on his part which I recognized by their ring tones: to me, which the paramedics didn't answer; to my daughter,
who also unsuccessfully tried to call me; and to my sister-in-law, who actually got through. I heard a male paramedic the
first one had passed the phone off to telling her I had been in an accident.
By this time, there were several paramedics and firemen on both sides of the car,
some trying to calm me down through the driver's side window, and some trying to keep me from cutting up my free leg, which
was then sticking through the passenger side and flailing around as I tried to get free. I was really desperate to get
out of that car.
At first the firemen made plans to pull me out feet first through the passenger
side, but the van's roof was crumpled upward, making a hump in the middle that was impossible for my body to pass through
without being cut by broken glass. The broken windshield was level with the pavement, there was no escape that way.
Finally, I walked my trapped leg up and around the hump and got it together with my other leg, so I was relatively flat.
The firemen got the driver's door open and then the paramedics leaned in and got to work.
First they put a collar around my neck, which I told them was really hurting at
the back. "It feels like something's back there," I told them, but they said they'd check after they got me out.
Then they strapped me down to a board and taped my head to it so I could move at all. I hated it, I felt like it was
actually aggravating any injuries I had because it really hurt, but they kept telling me they had to protect my spine that
way until they got me to the hospital and made sure it was safe to take it off. Then they pulled me out of the car.
I couldn't see anything around me, nothing but the blue sky overhead and the faces of paramedics and firemen looking down
at me. I wanted to see my van, the car that hit me, my passengers, the person who hit me, but was helpless. I
was told that everyone had gone to the hospital already, and then they loaded me in the ambulance and took me there too.
Here I am, standing by good old #22, the taxicab I
had been driving until July 30, 2006. As you can see by my smile, I'm so happy to be alive!
Click on the photo above for a larger image: scroll down
and over and you can see some of my hair imbedded in the doorframe. Most of the hair I held up in a clip was "sheared"
off by the action of my head being dragged across the pavement. My "bun" saved my skull!
Roof crushes like this are evidently a problem in minivans. Click
on the link for some scary info in Rollovers and Roof Crush.
After the dot.com bust saw the
company he worked for sold out from under him, my husband found a completely new career as a taxi driver. With his encouragement,
I got my hack license in June 2005 and began driving, tentatively at first, in February 2006. My last job was working at the
Public Library, so this has been a big change for me! I work at the airport exclusively, driving arriving passengers
to their hotels, homes, or business meetings. I really enjoy it!