A sobering reminder: We’re all human

5 03 2007

So after a long day that started at 6:00am, I was walking to dinner with some friends when a car making a left turn against a red smashes onto on coming traffic causing a third vehicle to smash into those two cars. The car making the left ended up completely 180 degrees from it’s original direction of travel. The car it hit wound up running up the curb onto a grassy knoll. The car that was unable to stop in time plowed into the second vehicle sending it up the grassy knoll before smashing into a traffic light pole. With all three airbags deployed and three crash victims suffering blood trauma and possible head and neck injuries, we quickly ran out to the middle of the intersection to extract the people from their cars and keep them still until paramedics arrived. In the end, it looked like everyone was going to be ok aside from a possible lower back injury, separated shoulder, and perhaps a concussion. This is a fortunate outcome (relatively speaking) when compared to the speed and force of the impact we witnessed. I did see one of my buddies though, (a big, tough guy, weighing in at an easy 250) literally jump out of his skin at the sound of the impact. It wasn’t a cheapy either: people sitting inside of a restaurant a good 100-150 yards away said they were startled by a sound from outside that made them stop what they were doing.

Talking to he driver of the car in the lane next to the red light runner, he feels that the driver was anticipating a green left arrow along with the green light for going straight. The witness driver says he honked when the guy started to go to no avail. This though, doesn’t explain the force of the impact. For a car to start from a standstill and accelerate to turn left, and then hit another car heading straight from the opposite direction, also from a standstill, the speed and impact don’t match up. After talking it over with everyone in my group, we are guessing that the two vehicles going straight from the other direction must’ve been rolling up to the red light, timing it so they wouldn’t have to stop. Our guess is that shortly before they arrived at the intersection, they got the green, and accelerated from the speed they were already at. This would explain how they got into the intersection at a speed that prevented them from seeing the left turn on red coming.

Thanks to technology (airbags, safety belts, crumple zones, etc.) and perhaps a little luck, I’m glad the injuries were not as severe as they could have been. I’m also glad in hindsight that in the first moments following the impact, we all immediately bolted for the middle of the street looking to help in some way. It’s these types of situations that really show people’s true colors. But at the same time, it’s sobering to realize that this could happen to you at anytime, anywhere, and that the outcome may not be so fortunate for all the parties involved –from the victims, to the would-be Samaritans.

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