The angels are certainly getting a workout this week on behalf of my family. Two days ago there were wannabe thugs shooting it out on the front yard of one of my grown children and today… This is my seventeen year old son’s Chrysler Sebring Convertible, or what’s left of it.
Just a few very short hours ago, he was on his way from Pennsylvania, where he’s currently living with his Dad and working, down here to the shore for the next 5 days. About 30 miles from my house, this happened.
For starters…and these are not just parental blinders… This kid doesn’t use his phone while driving. If you’re a parent blowing it up (or even a friend), you will be notified, quite petulantly, that he has had to pull over to call you back and find out just what your deal is and why it could not wait 15 minutes. He is also a seventeen year old seatbelt Nazi. Whether he is in the front or back seats, it’s on him. If you’re a passenger in his car, you put yours on or accept that walking is not crowded. If you’re driving him somewhere…he’s a parrot in the passenger seat who only knows one phrase “Put your seatbelt on.”
What he does, however, is keep somewhat odd hours. As any 17, almost 18 year old is prone to do. Especially one with a full time job. I spoke to him before he left PA this morning. I asked him to update me with his trip progress and he answered that he was gassed up and traditionally does not stop for anything, I could probably not expect to hear from him until he got here. “Mom, you know I will not call or text when I am driving.”
When the phone rang at 12:44 pm, I didn’t think for a second something was wrong. I picked up the phone and was prepared for Mom-gloating that he actually had to stop to pee, or stretch, or something.
Mom: “Well, hellllllooooo, child of mine. How’s your trip going?”
Kid: “Holy sh$t, Mom, I flipped my F-ing car.”
This is not what any parent wants to hear in well…ever. My rational mind, which would tell me that if he’s speaking in coherent sentences and calling me on the phone, then he must be fundamentally intact…it goes on vacation. There are immediate visions of my baby boy hanging upside down by a seatbelt in a vehicle that’s mangled. Is he trapped? Is there fuel? Is it going to blow up?
Mom: “Are YOU ok?”
Kid: “Yeah, Mom, I’m fine. The car, Oh my God, Mom, the car”
Mom: F*#k the car, Justin! ARE YOU OK?”
It all runs together at this point. There are passers by talking in the background, the police and EMT’s haven’t even arrived yet, but I don’t know this yet. The questions come rapid fire now.
Mom: “Has someone called 911… Are you out of the car? Are you whole? Are you hurt? Bleeding? Where in the hell are you?”
Kid: “Yeah, they’re on their way…where am I ? Uh…I don’t know…I mean, I’m not sure. Hey! Ma’am…where am I?”
Random lady: “Hebron, kid…you’re in Hebron. Holy crap, maybe you should sit down.”
Male voice: “Son, I need you to sit down. Were you driving that…” ….CLICK.
Call back, no answer. Again. Again. Again.
It’s all kind of a blur after that. I called T, thankfully, he was right around the corner. I rang the phone. What came out of my face was something very staccato and rude.
“I don’t care where you are, or what you’re doing, it stops right now, I need you here, there’s been an accident. Justin. Hebron. Flipped car….”
He cuts me off “I’ll be right there.”
There was a call from Justin somewhere between home and Hebron…they had taken him to the ER in Salisbury, nearby.
The rest of this afternoon has been a kind of blur of people and faces and calls and prayers. The rushed him to the hospital in an ambulance. We were there inside thirty minutes. It’s a forty minute drive. We found out the flashers cut themselves off repeatedly at certain speeds. EMT’s were apparently making him laugh on the scene with comments like…
“So that is your car?”
“Were you in it when this happened?”
I had to call his father. His sister. I didn’t call his older brother, because I knew he’d be racing there with no driver’s license and two babies in a van. The neighbors. Please get his little brother off the bus.
We got to the hospital and I completely bypassed the state trooper in the hall for my kid on the gurney. I kissed his face and then, only half jokingly, started feeling for broken bones and missing parts. Why is my child on a gurney in the hall?
The ensuing conversation with the state trooper, the hospital paperwork, everything all runs together. The trooper, a very nice fellow, was incredulous that my child had walked away, seemingly without a scratch. One small abrasion on his knuckles from crawling his way out of the upside down wreckage. That’s it. Not even a mark from the seat belt.
The car, apparently drifted off the roadway at 55 mph, where the cruise control was set, and straddled a construction barricade. Traveling up the incline of that barricade launched it into the air, rotating sideways about 10-12 feet above the ground for somewhere between one to two hundred feet. The underside of the car struck a tree, slowing it down, and it came to rest on the nose and hood, completely upside down. Miraculously and inexplicably NOT on the soft convertible top, which would have crushed and killed one of my babies instantly. Not a single airbag deployed. Not one. My second born son released himself from the seatbelt and extricated himself before anyone ever had time to stop and run over.
My thanks to the emergency personnel and first responders. I think they’re an unappreciated breed, and I’m extremely thankful, not only for their handling of the situation today, but for the fact that they got to see a positive outcome. It could have been, and often is, very different.
They discharged him within the hour. I’m glad that in such a small town, I did not see that car on the rollback before I laid eyes on my child. I would have fainted dead away on the spot. When we were discharged, we had to go get his belongings from the tow yard out of the car. This is what we pulled up to.
As it turns out, the driver for the tow company happened to be just across the road having her lunch and witnessed the entire accident. The account of what happened came mostly from her, and what the officers were able to piece together. My son told us this afternoon he had stopped at a McDonald’s and gotten a sprite in the drive through just a half an hour before this happened. He had the notion to put the top down, but elected not to. Didn’t want to get out of the car and mess with it.
I don’t know what you believe…but there is no other earthly explanation to me than someone far bigger than all of us allowing a thin skin protecting 206 very fragile bones to crawl out of this alive and unharmed.
Stay on your kids about seatbelts. They’re ridiculously important. I’m thanking God tonight that my son is so vigilant about wearing his. This could have ended very differently than with my son currently sleeping off the adrenaline crash on my couch. He wasn’t under the influence of anything, and didn’t have a phone in his hand. He wasn’t fiddling with the radio, and no other vehicles were involved. One split second. That’s all it takes.
I’m hoping I’m done this week with my children having near death experiences. I don’t think I can bear another one.
Have a blessed night everyone. Go hug your kids.