Monday, December 08, 2008

My father's lucky night

Wow...  What follows is from an email from my Dad...

At around 8 pm this Pearl Harbor Day we loaded up the little BMW and set forth for the city. It was overcast and dark on 301, the narrow country road that takes us to the highway. We had gone no more than a mile when a weird thing happened - the headlights of an oncoming car suddenly
disappeared. I had about one nanosecond to wonder about this when a huge horizontal tree trunk appeared in the headlights, right in front of us. I hit the brakes hard, but not soon enough, and we ran right into it.

The tree had fallen straight across the road, and was suspended about 4 feet off the ground by the guard rails on both sides. Thus it was invisible until we were on top of it, right at windshield height.
Screech ka-thump! and there we sat, covered in a snow of glass fragments, totally freaked out but completely unhurt. The airbags did not deploy so I guess we had almost managed to stop. The engine was running, the headlights were on, and the car seemed diveable, so I backed up about 20 feet thinking to turn around, but the windshield was just one mass of shattered safety glass so I gave up on that. To avoid getting smacked from behind I turned on the flashers, and Enid called
911. The police and fire department were on the way. A minute later another car called pulled up beside us to ask if we were OK.

It was then that I noticed the power lines right in front of my face, which the tree had pulled down beneath it as it fell. I couldn't tell if they were touching the car or not, and I certainly was not going to get out and look. If I had a brain in my head I would have backed up further to get clear, but all I could think was - DON'T MOVE! A woman got out of the other car and peered at the cables. "They're about two inches from the top of the car," she said. "You can get out, if you're careful." We thought about it, and decided that we didn't want to just sit there in the broken glass, so we got out. Carefully.

We were standing talking when an emergency service car arrived, lights flashing. "You folks stay right here," he said. "I have to put some flares out on the other side of the tree." Er, I said. Good luck ducking under that tree; it's lying on top of the power lines. He stopped and reconsidered. "Folks, let's move back a ways. And don't touch that guard rail!" The one the tree was resting on, he meant. When cars approached from the other direction, he waggled his flashlight at them. They stopped and turned around.

Then a huge fire truck arrived, and the firemen got out and stood there looking with their emergency lights flashing on the tree trunk. Enid asked if we could get our stuff out of the car. "Lady," said the head fireman, "You're not going near that car. And if I'd got here before you climbed out, you'd still be sitting there waiting for the power guys to show up. Do you realize you coulda fried like a piece of bacon?" So NOW Enid gets scared. Too late.

The fire ambulance arrives, and we are invited into the warm roomy back cabin to get a quick once over, blood pressure and pulse, and fill out forms. We hang out for a while, chatting with the nurse and the old Chief Volunteer (about Pearl Harbor, among other things). The policeman sits in for a while, to fill out his accident report, and the fire chief sticks his head in to scold us again, before saying that the power guys are busy - it's been a windy evening - but will be here soon so the VFD will be "fading away now". It's amazing that all these people, every one but the policeman, are volunteers. Huge burly guys in their fireman suits, the nurse, and all.

We get a ride home with the ambulance, and phone the towing service to bring the poor car by, once it's been rescued from the power cables, so that we can get our stuff out. The damage seems relatively minor - windshield demolished, a bit of a dink on the "eyebrow" above the windshield, and the side view mirror destroyed - but the Chief Volunteer, who has seen a lot of this, says it's even money that the insurance company will total it rather than pay for repairs. (We know that one -- fix it up for a thousand bucks and sell it for 12 grand. It's a 2001 325i sports wagon, 65K miles, all wheel drive -- a sweet little car and well maintained. Bah.)

OK, it's freezing outside, down around 15 degrees according to the tow truck guy. It was very cold to climb around on the tow truck to get into the car and unload to Enid standing below, but we went back in the house and had a shot of scotch and a big bowl of ice cream and all is well with the world, more or less.


Anonymous said...

Woo hoo! Great story, David! I've also been enjoying your other posts.

- Andy Cohen

Anonymous said...

It's Great story.We will waiting for your More stories.

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