It has been one week since my accident and many people have been asking me exactly what happened. With the stress of insurance companies, repairs and the holidays I haven't had time to really go over it.
On December 20th we had pretty typical Ohio weather. It was rainy and snowy and would go back and forth between the two. Once the sun went down though, things got icy. The thing about Ohio that I could never understand is that every winter we have ice and snow. Every winter all Ohioans forget how to drive in the snow. I just don't get it.
I left work at 10:30 pm, shuffled carefully to my car on the ice, and scraped the sheet of ice off my car. I tested my anti-lock breaks on the empty parking lot for fun before I left since I never had anti-lock breaks before. I got onto I-270 (4 lane highway) and began my trek home. I knew things were bad, but the highway seemed fine. I was cautious but not overly so. That is until I saw all the accidents on the sides of the road and the overpasses. Apparently the sign "Bridge may ice before road" is to be ignored.
I called my workplace because I knew most folks weren't leaving until midnight, and I warned them of the bad roads. I got off onto I-71 and again didn't think the roads were all that bad. A huge accident right before my exit had the whole highway shut down, so I quickly took the exit before mine and survived a steep and slick off ramp. I even survived driving down a back road to get to the road I live off of, called Morse Road.
Morse is a heavily traveled (2 lane) road, 35 mph, and feels like the last road to ever get iced. People fly down the road in normal conditions going 50+mph. I was doing my 30-35 mph crawl and was about a block and a half from my apartment. I don't know if I heard the guy hit the person in front of him, or if I heard his tires squeal, but all of a sudden I see this white Monte Carlo come flying at me from across the center line. All I could do was grip the steering wheel and scream "NO NO NO NO!!" He slammed right into the driver's side of my car. The impact made his car go flying behind me and it came to a stop sideways in the road.
People came out of their houses to see what happened and I called 911. The driver who was traveling behind me had to drive up on the sidewalk next to me to avoid hitting me from behind. Bless her quick thinking! After being on hold with 911 for 1-2 minutes I got through and advised them of the accident. I can't hate on 911 as things were so bad that night. The man who hit me was pretty unresponsive and I was worried for him. I tried to get out of my car but could not because my door was jammed due to the damage.
People were getting into accidents trying to avoid ours. They would see our wreak, slam on their breaks and go sliding into someone. They would go flying down the middle of the road, right between our broken cars and lose control. While waiting 30+ minutes for Fire and Ambulance to arrive we saw a total of 10 accidents (mostly minor fender benders) in a stretch of road 2 blocks long. At one point I realized I could possibly be hit again since people were driving so irresponsibly. I had to climb over my center console to get out of my car. Not a easy task for a big girl! Bystanders helped the man who hit me out of his car also. His car had been hit two more times after he hit mine, and they removed him for his own safety laid him on the ground. If he didn't get hypothermia from laying on the freezing ground for so long then I would be amazed! He never was very responsive and folks who came out of their homes to help got him blankets and a tarp to try and keep him warm. He was later taken to the hospital by ambulance.
I called some very good friends, crying because this was my first real accident. I had gotten into another accident years ago, but it didn't involve damage or any other cars. The police officer deemed my car drivable to my apartment (since it as so close) but nowhere else. After a few hours I was finally able to go home.
I had to stew over things all day Sunday because nothing is open on Sunday's and I could get nothing accomplished. I woke up early Monday morning to begin calling insurance agents and all. Wouldn't you know it, Verizon Wireless' service was down! All day! All I have is a cell phone. I had to frantically post a bulletin on Myspace begging someone to email me and help. The same friend that hung out in the cold with me came over and I was able to use her cell phone all day. I ended up having to buy a prepaid cell phone because I didn't know when "The Most Reliable Network" would be up and running.
Luckily my insurance policy covers a rental, so I was able to finally get into a rental car. I was about 2 hours late to work on Monday -- but I got there. I have been blessed with very kind and understanding people through this experience. I called the Kia dealership and they came to tow my car to the body shop and my insurance said I was allowed to use their shop and would pay the tow fee. With the holiday things were delayed, so I just found out yesterday that the insurance adjuster looked at my car and deemed it $4,000.00 worth of damage! I will be without my Kia for about 2 weeks, which is actually better (quicker) than I thought. I don't know if the guy who hit me was drunk or not as I have not been able to see the police report yet. I also don't know if he had insurance as the cops were unable to find insurance information in his wallet. I am sure I will know more soon.
I am just happy that I was not hurt other than some seat belt pain. I really believe that if I was in my Neon not only would by airbag(s) have deployed, but I would have been seriously hurt too. Although I would have preferred to not have a major accident in my brand new car, I am sort of lucky I did. For all the stress I have been through (I don't do stress very well in case you never noticed) I really have been able to put things into perspective. It may not have been a big deal to most people, but it was a big deal/accident to me. I am forever haunted by the fact that during that night, with all the accidents, a teenage boy was killed. I am so very blessed to not be another statistic.