As I was on the way to our prepper property with a pickup-truck load of stuff when a young woman made a left turn in front of me at a major intersection and I plowed right into her. I had time to think “Oh sh*t!” and be angry that the other driver who would make a dumb move like that. I jammed on the brakes, but it was too late for that to make much difference.
The next thing I knew, I was seeing white, and after a second of confusion I realized the air bag had deployed. I had heard a bang, and even now, I don’t know if it was the sound of the impact, the sound of the airbags deploying, or some combination of both. It was a very surreal moment as many of the items I had packed in the back seat had flown into the front of the car due to the impact and they were falling back down, some of them bumping into me. This included a table lamp that was in an open box and my Shockwave in its scabbard, which thankfully missed me but ended up in the front passenger seat. I tossed it back into the backseat.
I opened my door and stumbled out. My phone was in the cup holder and I had the presence of mind to turn back around and grab it. I was admittedly shaken up. I was also pissed because I had been cut off and it was clear that my beloved truck, which I had owned for almost 20 years, was totaled.
No Serious Injuries
Let me reassure you that both the other driver and I both walked away. (Neither of us had a passenger.) There was no blood, no head wound, no broken bones or anything like that. I expect we were both sore the next day — I know I was. I figure I owe my life, or at least a lack of stitches in my face, to the airbag.
The Immediate Aftermath
I am sharing this story with you to help you be more prepared should anything like this happen to you. I’ve been driving for decades, and this is the first and only serious accident I have had. In hindsight, I did some things well, but I could have done some things better.
Immediately after I got out of the car, a young man rushed forward and asked if I was OK. I told him I was. I asked if someone had called 911. They had. I saw these Good Samaritans rescue a small dog from the other vehicle and then the other driver, a young woman, climbed out. We both turned down an ambulance and transport to the hospital.
I have to give the police credit; they got their quickly. Three different local police cars showed up and a state police car drove up, exchanged a few words with the locals, and took off. Not long after, a fire engine pulled up to assist with traffic and clean up. There was shattered glass, vehicle fluids, and metal and plastic parts scattered all over the road.
Removing the Vehicles
Once they ascertained that no one was seriously injured, the police turned their attention to removing the wrecks and re-opening the road. (One lane of traffic was blocked Northbound,which is the direction I was heading , and one lane blocked Eastbound, which is where she was turning. They asked me if I had a preferred towing company. I was many hours from home and about an hour out of our new home, so I had no idea. I got whatever company was on call.
The police lieutenant asked me what happened, and I explained that I was driving north and a car going the opposite direction made a left turn in front of me, despite me having the green light, cutting me off. He asked me if I was sure I had a green light, and I was. He asked me what lane I was in. It was difficult to tell from the accident scene because my car had turned almost 90 degrees due to the impact. My passenger front side had plowed into the front fender/passenger door of her car, and we both spun a bit due to the impact. I am probably luck that the passenger side took the brunt of it. The officer takes my license and registration and heads off to talk to some of the witnesses.
My poor car was totally smashed. The front end was pushed in and the hood had buckled. I had no doubt it was totaled because the cost of two air bags is probably more than the value of an old pickup truck with 250,000 miles on it. I was frustrated, knowing that I might get a couple thousand dollars from the insurance company, but that the vehicle was worth far more to me.
Before long, a wrecker shows up and starts loading my truck onto his flatbed. I helped by putting it in neutral and giving the driver a key. He gave me his card.
I honestly thought that I would be driving off with him, but that was not the case. Before I knew what was happening, he took off with my truck, leaving me in the middle of an intersection. In the truck were my EDC bag, my sunglasses, my reading glasses, and my phone charging cable. Letting him drive off was the biggest mistake I made. I attribute it to being shaken up and not really knowing what was going on. The first responders clearly had a process they had used before, but they didn’t share it with me.
My Truck was Loaded with Gear
My immediate concern was that I had four guns in the truck, one of which was in plain sight, and some unknown (to me) dude just drove off with it. In addition to the Shockwave, there was a pistol in the console and two long guns in locked, padded gun cases.
I considered telling the police, “Hey, I have four guns there!” but I decided not to. I was afraid that they might confiscate them for “safe keeping” and it could be months before I got them back.
My second biggest worry was how would I transport everything that was in the back of the truck now that I had no vehicle. The bed of the truck was loaded with boxes, some of which were clearly damaged in the accident. The impact was so hard that the tool box on the back of my pickup truck bed had slammed into the back of the cab, denting it and smashing the rear window on the passenger side.
During this process, I was on the phone with my insurance company, trying to file a claim and get a rental car. I’m standing on the side of the road, surrounded my emergency vehicles, first responders, and people who had stopped to help, and I’m being interrogated by the claims agent. Then she asked me, “Do you have a pen and paper?” I’m like, Lady, they just pulled me out of a vehicle accident, all I have on me is the shirt on my back and whatever is in my pockets. So no, I don’t have a pen and paper. Email me.
She sets me up with a rental car. The rental car agency is 20 miles away. How do I get to the rental car agency? She doesn’t know, she’s in Iowa or somewhere else far away. She tells me to call the agency. It’s Enterprise, and I know from their ads that they pick you up, so I’m OK with that.
I Reconstruct the Accident in my Mind
During some of the down time while I am on hold, I watch the lights on both sides of the intersection. The lane that the other drive was in has a light that has turning arrows. They are red, yellow and green. When the lights in the other two lanes turn green, her lane gets a blinking yellow arrow, which is like a yield sign. I quickly surmise that the following happened:
The car in front of her has a yellowing turn signal, but that diver has enough time to make the left turn. They do so and clear the intersection with no problem. She sees him go but is distracted (maybe by her phone or maybe by her dog, I don’t know) and does not look at the light or at oncoming traffic, but blindly pulls into the intersection. I can’t imagine how someone would cross two lanes of traffic without looking up to see if someone was coming.
Finally, the accident scene is cleared, the police officer hands me back my license and registration. He gives me contact info for the other driver. I ask him if there is any way to rent a pickup truck locally. Nope. They don’t even have a rental car company in town anymore; it shut down during COVID-19. He offers me a ride to the truck stop on the Interstate exit. I accept. “Well, I’m not going to leave you on the side of the road,” he tells me. No, but he has no compunction against leaving me at the truck stop on the side of the Interstate. Still, I thank him. He was a good guy and just doing his job.
As we drive, I relay to him my theory of how she turned with a blinking orange light. “I mean, think about it, who makes a left turn across two lanes of traffic without looking for oncoming traffic?” I ask.
“She said she was following the other car,” he tells me. We both agree that she was probably looking at the car in front of her, not the light, and automatically followed it.
The Truck Stop
I go into truck stop Subway restaurant and order a beverage and a cookie. They talk me into buying three. I do this as an excuse to use one of their tables while I call my wife, bring her up to date, reassure her that I am OK, and convince her that I have everything under control. Then I call the rental company. They tell me they can’t pick you up. “What do you meant? I’ve seen your ads!” That’s only in a five mile radius, they tell me. Damn.
I start calling U-Haul dealers to see if they will rent me a pickup truck or a cargo van. Nope. One lady is nice enough to tell me that no U-Haul dealer in the country has them. She say’s I have to go to the city about 45 minutes down the Interstate to rent one. Hmm. I seem to be learning the downside of rural living.
Since I am getting a compact car from Enterprise, I go online and book a U-Haul cargo van in the city. My plan is now to rent the small car, drive it to the big city, pick up the van, drive it to the tow yard, load everything from the truck into it, drive to my prepper property, and unpack. Then the next day, I’ll drive the U-Haul back, drop it off, and pick up my rental car and drive back.
We’re good, if I can just get to the rental car dealer. But that story is gong to have to wait.
I’m going to post the rest of this story tomorrow, assuming I feel well enough to get out of bed.