Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Today, I am lucky to be alive

I am lucky to be here writing in my blog and not in a hospital room or worse, in a morgue. Tom, what is up? And why are you saying that? Well, I am part of a van pool. Today there happened to be seven of us in the van. One of my collegues was driving and I was in the front passenger seat. We had been in the van on the road for about five minutes or so when all of a sudden the driver slams on the brakes and says, "Holy Crap! Holy Crap! HOLY CRAP!". I was not paying attention when this happened and I looked up to see this Isuzu Rodeo rolling (vehicles are not meant to roll) and rolling and rolling... He rolled on the right side (northbound) median, rolled through a fence and finally rolled to rest on the tires on the frontage road next to the freeway. The van stopped. I got out and ran to the Isuzu Rodeo (or what was left of it). I didn't know what to expect. I did not see the driver ejected during the rolling action. The two things going through my mind were - 1.) Is the driver dead or alive (do we need to get an ambulance ASAP)? 2.) Is the vehicle leaking gasoline and will it explode and burn the vehicle and occupant? I'm the first person over to the vehicle (there were other people coming up quickly) and the man was still alive. Whew!! He looked stunned/dazed, but he was alive. He was strapped into his seat with his seat belt. His seat belt saved this man's life. I walked around the vehicle a bit and did not smell any gasoline. Other people who walked/ran up talked to and worked with the driver. Several people called 911. Because he was not in any imminent danger, we left him strapped into his seat in the vehicle. Within about five or ten minutes the police were on the scene. And about five minutes after that the ambulance and fire department were there. The fire department looked like they were using the jaws of life to extricate the man out of his vehicle

I looked around the man's Rodeo. There is a two pound bag of white flour that had come out of a sack that hit the pavement and had partially ruptured, spilling flour over the road. The hood of the vehicle was gone, exposing the engine. The windshield was shattered, but still somewhat attached to the vehicle. On the ground were coins, personal belongings, various vehicle parts, etc. It was a debris field that was scattered over about 100 feet or so. Back at the interstate there were huge black marks where the Rodeo landed. There were gouge marks in the asphault where the rims dug into the asphault, and a chunk of asphault came off the road.

So, what happened? Since this happened around 7:35 AM, I am guessing the man fell asleep at the wheel. He was traveling southbound on I-15. He crossed the median, did a Dukes of Hazzard leap across the left lane of northbound I-15, landed on the right lane of I-15 and then he started to roll his Isuzu Rodeo. I honestly don't know how many times the vehicle rolled. Watching the vehicle roll, it sure seemed like it rolled a lot with stuff coming out like crazy. My guess is at a minimum eight rolls, probably more than that.

Once the police and fire department showed up, we packed up and drove into work. It wasn't until I arrived to work that I realized what had just taken place. Had we been driving just a tad be faster and had been on the road two or three seconds ahead, the outcome would have been much different. Had we been two or three seconds ahead, he would have crashed into our van, potentially killing myself, the driver and other passengers in the van. If we weren't dead, we would have been in the hospital. Luckily, no one else was at the location where the other vehicle landed and it ended up just a single vehicle accident. But nonetheless, it makes you sit and wonder. It makes you appreciate your life. It makes you think about if your personal affairs are in order. Are you "ready to die"? I personally think that the seven of us in the van today were taken care of by a higher power, that our lives were spared. And I am ever so grateful that my life was spared earlier this morning and not taken.