Monday, April 23, 2012

Life in Seconds and Inches

On April 5th, Mike had had a rough day at work. A lot has been going on in our lives and we were trying to make big decisions My parents had given us a gift card for the upcoming Easter so we decided to unwind and have a relaxing conversation over Olive Garden. We went to Olive Garden at the district and had an amazingly delicious and fun dinner discussing our future. We left around 7:00 p.m. hand in hand, laughing and feeling better about our day. We took a right out of the Olive Garden and approached the light at Bangeter at 11400 S. We were first in line, stopped at a red light, facing west but preparing to turn north. I had made a joke about something and we were laughing when I heard Mike say, "What the..." I turned to the left just in time to see a Dodge Durango heading north going about 60 mph cross three lanes of traffic and head right towards us. It truly was the most frightening moment of my life. We couldn't move. We just had to watch the Durango aim right for us and plow us. All I could think was, "Why are they doing that? Why are they aiming for us?" I know they weren't aiming for us intentionally but it felt almost like a hate crime because they were in the farthest lane from us and missed all four stopped lanes next to us and hit us. The Durango ended up hitting us on an angle right in front of the driver's tire but not head on. It plowed us off the road, turning us 90 degrees, up onto Olive Garden's lawn. It happened so fast I didn't have time to yell. I hit the center console and Mike hit the driver's door and window. All I said after we stopped was, "Ouch". Mike was half-way out the car cause at that exact moment... the Durango spun out in the rocks on the side of the road, gained traction and then SPED OFF. They left. I couldn't believe it. I didn't see them at all because my eyes were closed but Mike turned back and asked if I was ok. I said I was fine and he said, "They left!" I couldn't believe it. Who leaves?!? Mike said later that then he really thought it was a hate crime. Within seconds it felt like, people were everywhere... asking us if we were okay. The Durango had hit another car at the light further south and had continued driving then. Some man (bless his heart) had seen it all and was following the car while on the phone with 911. So immediately people were saying, "Don't worry, we got a license plate number." I was in so much shock, I couldn't believe what happened. One minute we were laughing and the other my car (new car!) was plowed off the road. I was shaking and when I got out of the car I realized my left ankle hurt for some reason. A couple of men told me I needed to sit back in the car. This accident really restored my faith in people again I must say. People were everywhere, asking if I was okay, telling me to sit down, finding me a jacket/blanket. Mike called 911 right away and as soon as he said he was calling I said, "Okay, you're calling 911? Good." And I immediately called my parents. Im sure I gave my dad a start because when he answered my voice was shaking and I was crying. I told him we were hit by a car but apparently my phone cut out and all he hear was "hit". He said, "Who was hit by a car?!" My parents came right away and I was so grateful they were close. As soon as I saw my mom, I lost it. Mike was a life-saver and in survival mode... taking pictures of the car, filling out a police report, etc. I was just sitting there in shock mode. My mom was with me and the paramedics came to check me out. I checked out just fine. All the hit was blunt force so the next day we were just sore and bruised, but thankfully, no bleeding or anything broken. I must admit that one of my initial thoughts was, "My car!" I've only had my car for about 6 months and I couldn't believe it was already smashed. When my mom got there I said, "Why did we have to be driving my car?" She stopped short and looked at me and said, "You be grateful you were in your car. If you'd been in Mike's car, Mike might have been killed." It was such a slap in the face-- I hadn't even realized that. Mike drives a small compact and if we'd been in his car, she would have hit right where Mike was sitting. Essentially T-boning us at 60 mph. Then I really lost it. I was overwhelmed with gratitude. That when I'd thought leaving the house earlier, "Maybe we should take Mike's car cause it gets better gas mileage...", I'd been prompted to keep my mouth shut and Mike had grabbed my keys instead. I was grateful that Mike and I hadn't left 10 seconds earlier. Grateful we hadn't been pulled forward 12 more inches. All of a sudden life seemed really fragile, sacred and volatile... and I was saying prayers of gratitude to my Father in heaven for watching over us.

The driver ended up being a woman. She had driven down and pulled into a carwash at the next light down. An officer had gotten the call about a hit and run as he was heading west on 10400 S. He saw a Durango come out of the carwash but didn't think that could be the right car. The car pulled out and stopped at the light. The light turned green but the car didn't go so the officer got out of the car and went up to the window. He told the woman to pull forward through the light and stop. On his way back to the car, she took off. Unified police authority came ripping past him chasing her. They wouldn't tell us how they got her to stop (the office said it was a little scary) and arrested her. We found out later she was drunk and had been smoking marijuana. When Mike and I googled her we also found out she was wanted as a suspect in a shooting of a young woman in the stomach with a shotgun a couple years ago in Oregon as well. We are just grateful no one was killed and that neither us or the other car had children inside.

Needless to say, the night was traumatizing for both Mike and I. My parents took us home because our car was obviously towed. We didn't go to the hospital and at around 9:30 we knelt down with my parents and said a prayer of gratitude to be at home. To be standing-- and to even be alive. Specifically Mike. I was feeling a desperate need to hold him and not let go. It may sound dramatic to you but the night really shook me to the core. You don't think about what you have to lose till it's challenged.

The next day we drove to Vernal for Easter and the entire time I felt like people were aiming at us. I kept grabbing Mike's arm to the point I think he thought he'd have to sedate me. When I finally calmed down we drove a lot of the way in silence. Mike turned to me at one point and said, "What are you thinking about?" All I could think of was that visual of seeing the car coming at us over and over again. Mike was replaying it over and over in his head as well. I've only seen Mike cry maybe twice in our entire marriage. As we started discussing what had happened, he started to cry and I did as well. I think we both were just overcome with fear, relief and gratitude. It was quite the therapeutic drive. Thankfully, we made it safely there and back.

Despite all of the driver's history, she did have car insurance (again a tender, tender mercy). So after an initial battle with the insurance to get a rental car for us... we are just waiting for our car to be repaired. My parents thought it would be totaled. But since it was brand new, there was a high ticket for repairs vs. replacing the car. The insurance adjuster said they wouldn't replace it and instead they're paying $10,000 to repair it over a a 5 week period. Hopefully, our car will be working as well as it was before when we get it back. It was a little bit of a bummer that they wouldn't replace it because we fear it may not ever be the same. However, looking on the bright side, when I looked around to find the same model of my car with all the extras and special features we'd purchased... they didn't have one in the entire western region. So I'm not sure I could have even gotten the same car back... and I am pretty attached to my two-tone seats as silly as that may sound. :)

This post is a novel. But in summary, we are once again seeing the incredible hand of the Lord in our lives. We feel grateful also to our wonderful family and friends who reached out to express their concern and love. You will never know how much it meant to us to know so many people cared. Really, bless you all! And on a final note... slow down and buckle up all! :)

Photos of the accident: