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Playing Chicken with a Drunk Driver

If you must drink and drive, drink Pepsi.  ~Anonymous

Last night around 8:30 pm, Kyle and I were involved with a near drunk driver run in.  First, I’d like to say we are both fine, at least as far as physical evidence is concerned.

Now the story of the incident or, as it should correctly be called: The avoidance of a death resulted accident.  As I am thinking back on it now, it seems almost fake, like I couldn’t have possibly managed to squeak past death like that, but sure enough I did, with witnesses.  Kyle and I were driving up a two lane highway, not far from my parents house.  Actually, not far from my house either.  When I say two lanes, there was one lane going either direction and we were on a straight stretch of road where you can pass.  As you can imagine, seeing a little way up the road for oncoming traffic was possible.  Thank goodness!  It was dark and we weren’t in a hurry at all, just motoring along.  Kyle wasn’t playing his DS or iTouch. In fact, now that I think about it, we both had our eyes on the road with little chit chat.  It was one of those relaxed car rides.  The calm before the storm if you will.

As I drove along I noticed two very large headlights starring down the road like bright white eyes.  Now at first I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me.  I mean, how often do headlights stare you down in your lane of highway?  That’s the moment when I noticed the bright white eyes crossed over into my lane and hit the side of the bank, on my side of the road.  Then the truck straightened out and drove straight for a head on collision with me and Kyle.  All I saw were the bright white eyes itching to play a game of chicken with me.

It’s weird, the thoughts that pop into your head at a moment like that one.  I thought, “O crap we are going to hit head on!”  Then I started to review my options.  My first thinking was to turn my steering wheel before the impact toward the side of the road so the truck would hit my side of the car and not Kyle’s. You see, all I thought about was that little boy sitting in the passenger seat!  That would have surely resulted in my death.  I was ok with that decision except I didn’t want Kyle to see me dead in a car and I wasn’t certain he would be unharmed.  I thought, “It’s better than having us both die.”  Then I thought I could swerve into what was supposed to be his lane, but I couldn’t see for the blinding bright white eyes were on me.  Plus, if my opponent managed to move back into his lane on a delayed reaction, he will surely hit Kyle’s side of the car.  Ok, so not an option.

What I did was definitely blessed by God.  You see, there really wasn’t much of a side of the road, maybe three feet before the bank.  Now that didn’t matter anyway since he was halfway in the lane and halfway on the brim of the road on my side of the highway, again staring me down, forcing me to play a game I didn’t agree to with little options. In my last ditch effort to get us out of this alive, I made a bold move.  I kicked the car up on the side of the bank like we were Dukes of Hazard driving on two wheels.  Running into another obstacle, literally, we were in a direct path for a telephone poll.  Again, my only mission was to keep Kyle’s side of the car safe.  So I made a conscience decision to take the hit from his truck on my side of the car to avoid the telephone pole, which I just barely grazed.  Just at that moment the drunk driver, driving a Ford F150 swerved just enough as to just clip my mirror.  In essence, I managed to squeeze myself between a drunk driver in a large vehicle and a telephone pole with two wheels on the road and the rest of the car on the side of grassy ground.

Surprisingly, before the accident even happened, at the moment I knew we were going to be in an accident, I evaluated my options and was able to make a choice.  I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true, I was able to decrease the speed of the situation and see it in slow motion.  You know, it was weird, my old training took over.  You see, I used to train in Tang Soo Do (karate) and Haidong Gumdo (sword) years ago.  We always trained for Pyong, which means Safe, Comfortable, Confident, Peaceful, Well-balanced.  That’s a lot wrapped up in just one word, but there’s no other way to explain what’s going on.

Once I stopped the car on the side of the road and got it of the embankment, it was time to evaluate the damage, physical and emotional.  At first I couldn’t see out to the sides of the car.  The side air bags were released.  Now that I think about it, they may have stopped Kyle from hitting his head on the side window when I swerved.  The impact of hitting the embankment blew out my front passenger tire and practically ripped the wheel off.  It seemed as though the front passenger quarter panel was slightly dimpled just above the wheel.  Aside from that no real evidence the car was almost hit head on.

As far the emotional damage goes, well time will tell with Kyle.  Initially, once I got the car to a stop, Kyle turned to me with such a look of fear in his eyes. I mean real life threatening fear!  I wanted to be upset too but, once I saw his face and felt his fright, I stopped and turned off all emotions and became extremely calm.  You see, Kyle was waiting for my reaction to join in, but I gave him nothing.  I simply turned my entire body toward him and said in a very neutral voice, “Are you ok?”  He wanted to cry or scream, but he was in shock.  He gave me a look like, ‘Aunt Heather are you ok?’.  Without him asking the question, I instantly reassured him that I was fine and I asked him again, “Are you alright buddy?” in a tone as if he just had a bad case of the hiccups, all the while examining his head and torso to get the answer before it was given.  He looked down in his lap and said, “My stomach.”  You see we were still in our seat belts and they constricted us as if holding us in a roller coaster ride.  To almost make light of the situation and reinforce the importance of seat belts,  I said, “Ya, they did their job!”  Just then, I unfastened mine and Kyle followed suit. Then I heard a knocking at my door.

It was my good Samaritans, as I have been referring to them since.  I went to duck the airbag and get out of the car to get a good snapshot of what just happened, not thinking Kyle wanted out.  He said in a very stressed and claustrophobic voice before I got out, “Aunt Heather, I want out of here!”  I said nonchalantly, “Ok honey, stand on the bank away from the road.”  Since the car was right up against ground, the door wouldn’t open fully and Kyle had to wedge himself out.  Just then the people in the car behind me checked to make sure we were both fine before telling me the story from their point of view.  Evidently another driver stopped and said that the drunk driver almost hit them up the road.  The car behind me witnessed the entire situation.  I bet that was a crazy sight!

You know as I stood their waiting for the cops and my tow truck with my good Samaritans, the guy, which I will not name names since I don’t have permission, said, “While it’s a good thing you have that car, if it was me, my car would not have been able to make the bank and the truck would have crushed us.”  You know he’s right!  I am in a way glad it was me and no one got hurt.  The car is replaceable, no doubt.  I also noted that the lady in the car took Kyle and put him in their car so he wouldn’t get cold and to get him off the side of the highway.  She was so good to him.  Both of them were very calm too.  As if on cue they didn’t act in any sort of hysterics as to not upset Kyle.  For that alone I am forever grateful.  Not to mention everything else they did for me in our hour long first meeting.

Next the outcome.  The drunk driver made his way down the highway a little and wrecked into a guardrail and passed out.  He was so intoxicated he fell asleep!!  At this moment I didn’t know this happened and while I was on the phone calling my mom to pick us up, I realized I was sending my mom in a direct path for death!  He was headed toward where my mom would be coming!  I couldn’t believe what just happened and possibly what might happen.  When mom came to our rescue she said she saw an accident and thought it was me.  She pulled over and asked either the fire rescue or the ambulance where I was.  They knew nothing about our run in with this drunk.  They had no idea we were up the road stranded.  You see, they didn’t realize there were two accidents on the same stretch of highway.  That would explain why it took the cops close to an hour to get there.  And you know what, my good Samaritans stood with me the entire time!  They wanted to make sure Kyle and I were fine and they wanted to give their statements.

Once mom got there, I had her take Kyle home who, later on I found out, had a few bruises on his belly.  Then the cops arrived with the drunk driver in his back seat.  I asked, “Could I have a word with him?” instantly declined.  As the officer took down my information I mentioned that my nephew was originally in the car with me.  He asked, “How old is your nephew?”  He then went off spouting, “That’s great!  That’s just great!”  He informed me that he lost his brother to a drunk driver in the past.  I felt so bad for this man.  The officer went on to explain that he had to get the driver to the hospital before too long so they could get an accurate blood alcohol reading.

Mom came back to get me just as the tow truck got there.  My good Samaritans had me call them when the tow truck got there and a little bit later that night to see if we were still alright.  What great people!  I mean really fantastic people who went above and beyond!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

We are all fine and I think managing to avoid complete tragedy like that was a miracle.  I think I received the best possible result out of that situation.  So please don’t drink and drive!  And if you have an opportunity to be a good Samaritan, react on it.  It may mean the world to the receiver!  God Speed in 2012!

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