On June 28th, 2011 at approximately 8:30 AM I hydroplaned across a bridge that was under construction, the moment my tires hit the water welled on the bridge from the rain California was receiving in June, I spun out of control until I came face to face with the semi-truck I had been following prior to crossing the bridge.
Remembering once, my dad had told me to never touch the breaks when you’re in the snow or hydroplanning, I followed his instructions and just tried to steer. Unable to regain control I was forced into the semi-trucks path. At that moment, when you staring at a semi-truck and you know it’s going to hit you, all I could do was brace for the impact. I knew it was going to hit me, I knew I had to survive this. By some will of God, my back tires grabbed a hold of the embankment and swung me around to face forward as I started to go down the embankment backwards.
Seeing the sky in my windshield and not the semi-truck I was thanking God. “I can do embankment, I can’t do semi-truck.” I then began rolling down the embankment starting with the passenger’s side of my minivan. I felt something hit me on top of my head. I didn’t realize it was the roof until I saw yellow grass in my windshield. I gripped the steering wheel even harder, bracing myself back against the seat, waiting for the rolling to stop…and it did…and I was alive…and I couldn’t feel any pain.
I was hanging upside down and my cell phone was staring at me like a beacon. I tried to undo my seat belt so that I could get free. I grabbed my cell when I realized I couldn’t get out of the seat belt. I was starting to panic then, afraid the van was going to collapse down on me and crush me…because that would be my luck. I called 9-1-1 and explained that I was just in a rollover accident. So many thing’s were running through my head. I was afraid I was going to be that person who went off the side of the road and no one found them for days and they had to survive on one granola (which was in my glove box for a just-in-case-of-emergencies) and their own piss for 9 days.
The truck driver that I pirouetted around, cut me free of my seat belt and instructed me to crawl out the back of my minivan. I found it rather easy…oddly enough. I grabbed my purse, my kindle, my cell phone, my red folder containing all of my writing’s for my latest book and made my way out. (I felt like Steve Martin in the movie The Jerk…I just need my lamp…and my favorite socks…and this remote..) Once I got free of the wreckage, I started laughing, nervously. I made it out, no broken bones, I wasn’t knocked unconscious, and nothing was on fire. I did however make a lot of people even more late for work as the traffic was ungodly backed up by then.
The truck driver asked, “Are you ok? Where you alone in the vehicle?” All I could do was look him in the eyes and thank him for helping me, then I started saying rather loudly, “Holy shit! I survived that” as I pointed to my now dead minivan.
I was in fact alone in my minivan and I was on my way to work, which reminded me that I should probably call my work and let them know I’d be late. I called Rafe from the truck driver’s Old School cell phone (because I couldn’t figure out how to get my smart phone out of Emergency Mode).
Long story even longer, I had an X-ray done of my chest and back and left elbow. The doctor said, “She’s too lucid to need a CAT scan and everything else came back fine. No broken anything, no bleeding anywhere.” After cleaning off the blood in various spots on me from the glass, I was sent home with pain killers and well wishes of “your awfully lucky.”
UPDATE: It’s been almost two weeks since my accident and I’m still having back pain and because I’m Alena, I keep re-injuring my left elbow. Why? Because everything is at elbow level now. I plan on seeing a chiropractor as soon as I can get in to see one. Until then I’m taking a very low dose of pain medicine. I’m finding sleep easier now. The nightmares have not gone away completely but at least I’m able to close my eyes without being back in my van again.
My van is totalled and due to the fact that I didn’t have full coverage insurance, my insurance won’t be getting me a new car. I am very nervous to drive to work again. I’m pretty sure when the time comes and I have to drive myself to work, I will find an alternate route instead of driving over that bridge again. At least until the construction is completed…and even then I might not. I am worried about rain again. Heaven forbid I EVER hydroplane again.
I want to take this time to thank everyone who helped me in my time of need. The truck driver who steered his big o’l truck expertly enough so that neither he nor I ever touched each other, until he freed me from my seat belt. I want to thank the men at System’s Plus for rushing to my aid and providing me with a warm blanket in the rain. I want to thank the C.H.P. officer who directed everyone to help me and the traffic. I also want to say I’m sorry to the C.H.P. officer because I handed him the wrong driver’s license by mistake and because I seemed to be laughing an awful lot for someone who just survived a rollover accident off a freeway. I want to thank the ambulance driver for attending to my superficial wounds and for reminding me to tell everyone I spoke to on the phone that I was o.k. I want to thank my boyfriend Rafe and my dad for rushing to my side but stopping at the scene to take pictures first and retrieve all of my belong’s including looking for my Kindle. I want to thank Wayne for driving my mom to the hospital and calming her down enough to be able to drive her to the hospital. And my cousin Mike and his wife Wendy for coming over after everything was done and said and bringing me flowers and a balloon and allowing me to retell my story so that we all could make fun of it. I’ll be sure to wear my bubble wrap next time.
On a side-note, I am still trying to process every thing. I feel incredibly lucky. There is absolutely no reason I should still be walking this planet if it wasn’t for God’s hand in all of this. There were sooo many thing’s that could have gone horribly wrong, and they didn’t. And all the thing’s that could go right, did. I am trying to live every day, to its fullest. It wasn’t my time to go yet, and I need to make every moment count, because in an instant, every thing could change in the blink of an eye. Make sure you say, “I love you” to those you love. Go out of your way if you have too. Make it count, it could be your last chance.