I went to bed at 2 AM Friday morning. My phone was dead but I tried to stay up until it turned back on so I could set my alarm. I fell asleep but counted on Jason setting his. 7:10 rolled around and I should have already been on the road. I thought so many times, Just turn around and go home. You’re already so late just email your teacher. I thought it was just my laziness and anxiety prohibiting me from going to class so I kept driving. Less than ten minutes away from my house it happened.
I’ve never been in an accident before. I remember once, though, when I was about five my mom was driving my friend and me to dance class. An uninsured man hit us trying to turn into the gas station right by the public library where I’d eventually work. I cried. Not because I was hurt but because it was so unnatural. So jarring. That had nothing on this.
Since a fatal accident with several Laneville students a few weeks ago, I’ve been… cautious. Always on the defense when driving. I’ve learned to not trust cars at stop signs or red lights. I came to CR 4186 just like I always do, though I’ve never really noticed it. There’s a little house on the corner angled towards that road where I now know an elderly couple lives. I remember thinking I’m making great time. I won’t be so late after all! An old white truck came to the stop sign. I focused on it making sure it wouldn’t do anything stupid. I noticed it starting to roll towards the road too quickly. I laid on my horn and slammed my brakes. It did no good. I swerved trying to avoid impact but before I knew it there was a loud POP and I let out an audible Oh! My hand flew to my mouth and my body started shaking. The other car kept driving. My mind went blank. The car stopped in the middle of the road. A young hispanic girl got out and started walking toward me. Oh God, the other passenger is hurt. I stared at her through my windshield my hand still on my mouth and foot on the brake. Do I get out? What do I say? I slowly opened the door and stood on shaky legs. “Are you okay?” I called to her. My voice surprised me. “I’m fine. You?” “Yeah.”
She started back towards her truck. Yelling something to the other passenger. He slid over into the driver’s seat of the truck. It turned around and drove back where it came from. I stood in the road. What’s happening? Is this a hit and run? Shaking I walked to the passenger side of my car audibly saying “Oh, God, oh, God!” I fumbled for my phone. The girl came over to me. I’m standing in ants. “I didn’t see you, my windows are so dark…” I nodded, knowing that wasn’t the truth. I dialed 9 but stopped. I dialed Home first. Ring…ring…ring… PICK UP! Hello? “Jason! I was in an accident. I-I don’t know where we are. Know the gas station? We’re before that. Come find me.” “I’m so sorry… I’m so sorry.” She dialed her parents. Translating for her father she offered to pay for it if I didn’t call the police. “No-no I’m calling the cops.”
I’ve never dialed 9-1-1. I’ve always had nightmares about dialing and the operator never picks up or doesn’t speak English or doesn’t respond to me or I can’t remember the number or my phone won’t work.
I dialed 9…1…1. It rang once and a woman picked up. I didn’t hear what she said. “Hi, we were just in an accident,” my voice still shaking, tears nearing the surface. I spouted off our location, or what the girl told me, and answered her questions. No, no one is injured. No, there is no road blockage. Yes–is your car coming back?–both cars are here. I’m sending someone to you. The elderly couple in the house behind us came out to look at things. Neither one of us had ever been in an accident. She wanted us to drive back to her house. We shouldn’t leave the scene! For what felt like hours I waited for Jason. I saw him flying over the hill towards me. He calmly got out of the car, obviously livid with the girl that hit me. He took my phone back from her and embraced me. The tears receded and never came out. Her car came back with two people in it this time. They parked and met by her truck bed. I recounted the accident to Jason.
Several cars stopped to check on us. One man stopped at Jason and me and said, “Didn’t stop at that stop sign did they?” I shook my head. “My wife had a bad accident right here ten years ago. Glad you’re okay.” I smiled and he nodded. A teacher Jason works with drove by with a car full of students on their way to a FFA competition.
Minutes later Corporal Jesse Stewart arrived on the scene. Dapper and polite he shook our hands and asked us what happened. He took our information and all of our names and pieced it all together. The whole time he was there things just relaxed. It was odd and eye-opening to see this side of a police officer. I snapped several pictures of our car, mostly to remember the occasion by. Cpl. Stewart came back over to me and handed me his card. He told me the girl driving has no license or insurance and that her car would be towed. None of the passengers had insurance either. Justice. We told him last bits of information, shook hands and drove away.
I’ve never been so conscious of other drivers on the road than on that drive home. Jason and I met back up at home and I called my mom. I knew she’d be worried since she told me she always thinks about how much I drive every day. Honestly, I worry about me too. For this very reason.