Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Roll Over

Last night, while driving home from a friend's house, I witnessed a roll-over accident on the Interstate. I was about fifty yards away when I saw an SUV go tumbling across two lanes of traffic. Dust. Sparks flying. Glass everywhere.

They were headed North and I South so when they skidded, SUV on it's side, near the median, I thought they were going to come right over. Somehow, they came to a stop without hitting even one other car.

For some reason, the universe has a way of putting me in the position to witness a car accident about once a year. So, untrained but accustomed as I am, I turned on the flashers and pulled over. Everything they say about adrenaline is true. I called the police on cell phone and hopped over the guard rail to the SUV. Incredibly, all four passengers were beginning to crawl out of the car. As I talked to the 9-1-1 dispatcher and told her what was going on, two girls and two guys climbed out of this SUV, all showing no visible signs of injury. I watched as car after car passed by this shattered, overturned vehicle and not one of them stopped even to see if anyone was okay.

As luck would have it, the deputy chief of police just happened to be a few cars back. He was able to radio for fire and ambulance as well as talk to the passengers. He did confuse me though as he was telling them to get all their 'debris' out of the road instead of having them sit down. He was also asking for license and registration. I understood that he wanted to assess the situation right away but these people just ROLLED OVER, would it be totally wrong to have them sit down for a minute? He wasn't very nice to me but I had no problem arguing with him (that adrenaline) to let the poor kids sit down. Maybe he was concerned that alcohol was involved, which was entirely possible but probably also a good reason to have the passengers move as little as possible.

I hung up with the dispatcher and went to talk to the passengers while Deputy Important talked on his radio. I'll say it again, it is amazing that they all appeared unscathed. They were all coherent and talking and walking. I couldn't believe it but I was also really glad I did not have to see blood in this accident.

As more police and fire arrived, I said goodbye to the passengers and Deputy Important and headed back to my car. As I pulled away, the adrenaline started to subside. One thing people don't often talk about with adrenaline is the let down after it's over. An adrenaline rush is often followed by an emotional response. I was no exception.

I don't know why I cried. I don't even know what I cried over. Just relief, I guess. All the thoughts that you block out while you're acting on instinct begin to flow. What if it were me? Would anyone have stopped? Who would they call in an emergency for me? Who would be there for me? What if there had been blood? What if there had been children, like that last accident? Wonder what happened to those kids... and on and on until that, too, subsided.

I have no idea why that happens. I don't know what to think of it. Maybe your mind is just unblocked and open to what you're really thinking about. Maybe those emergency situations just cause you to think about what's important to you. Maybe you just need a good cry. I do know that I could never just keep driving; emotional breakdown or not, I will always have to stop.


GirlGoyle said...

Oh's mind boggling that no one stopped. Just crazy! Just goes to show where our society is headed to...we all have tunnel vision starting from the parking lot of the office to the driveway of your house. Glad you are the exception. Guess someone was looking over those kids.

Sizzle said...

the crying post-adrenaline makes a lot of sense for the reasons you point out. you are going on instinct and once you get to settle into yourself, the feelings wash over.

how scary to witness that! but what a gift to feel those feelings and take what you can away from the experience to make your life richer.

justacoolcat said...

Way to stop and help out!

As for the adrenaline, a lot of different chemicals are pumped into the brain during an adrenaline rush. Powerful stuff.

Good thing no one was hurt.

Joe said...

What a story. If I am ever in an accident again (knock on wood), I hope there's someone like you around to help out.

Bre said...

My goodness, what an experience! I've been there too, and in my line of work there are more of those heart-stopping adrenaline rushing situations than I like - I always cry afterwards. I cry because I feel I didn't do enough, I cry because it happened, I cry because I couldn't stop it.

But good for you for stopping - not enough people do and that's just terrifying.

jackt said...

Glad that nobody was hurt. Very noble of you to stop by and help and stand up to Deputy Important- from the sound of it seems like it was the right thing to do.

Runner Girl FL said...

It's amazing how few people help in these situations!!

Joe said...

That is absolutely terrifying. I've only seen one accident in my life and it freaked me out for a long time. Good for you for keeping control and helping out in whatever way you could. I think it's completely natural to cry after something like that. That adrenaline is strong stuff!

Glad you are ok. And really...nice work!