It will never happen to me.
We often think that about traumatic events; a natural disaster, a crime or a vehicle collision.
We drive past a crash and think, “idiot drivers, that will never happen to me, I’m careful.” At least that’s what I always thought.
But the thing is, sometimes – despite our best efforts – bad things happen.
On Oct. 17 while driving east on Hwy 11 at about 6:55 a.m. in the thick darkness a big buck – running at full speed – hit my driver door like a torpedo while I was driving about 100 km/hr.
I felt the force of the huge buck hitting my driver’s door. Then I felt the force of the side airbag go off. Then I felt the force of the airbag in my seat and then the force of the front airbag. I was tossed around at a high rate of speed like a Raggedy Ann doll.
The impact of the collision threw my car off the road. When my car stopped the lights were still on but the motor wasn’t running and the car’s 911-assist voice came on (can’t remember verbatim) and said something to the effect of, “sounds like you have been in a collision calling 911.”
Every airbag in my car went off, the driver’s side and passenger side airbags along the doors, all side skirt airbags. I didn’t know there were airbags in the seats but both the airbags in the driver and empty passenger seat went off and my seat came apart as it was designed to do in a crash. I was never so thankful for Ford’s seemingly “overkill” with airbags everywhere and all of their safety features than I was after that crash.
Airbag dust was floating inside the car but I also noticed smoke coming from under the hood.
At first, I couldn’t move because the wind was knocked out of me and I was just plain stunned at what had happened. About 10 vehicles drove past, not stopping. Perhaps it was too dark for them to see that I was still in the crashed vehicle. In that moment panic set in while I thought “I’m going to burn alive.” Eventually, a young guy stopped and offered assistance. He told me his name but I can’t remember and to him thank you kindly for stopping.
The driver’s door wouldn’t open. The side skirts and airbags on the passenger side blocked the door and the passenger door wouldn’t open at first.
The ambulance took me to Red Deer hospital. In emergency they first did an ultrasound to check for internal bleeding. They kept me in a brace all day suspecting that I had a fractured neck. The X-ray was difficult to read so they did a CAT scan, which showed no break.
When I found out my neck wasn’t fractured and they took off the brace and let me move I just about jumped out of the hospital bed feeling like I had a new lease on life.
I really have to hand it to the Red Deer hospital staff. They were on everything right away. They took every precaution in case my neck was fractured; they had three staff turn me over or move me when needed. I’m thankful for their expertise and professionalism.
I’m also thankful to the big moustached sheriff from Blackfalds Integrated Traffic Services who gave me a speeding ticket last month on that same highway for going faster than I should have. Because of that hefty ticket, I have since paid attention to my speed thinking, “I can’t afford another one of these.” (You sometimes don’t notice your speed in newer smooth riding vehicles.)
Because of that ticket, I’m more mindful of my speed. I wouldn’t have wanted to be speeding and experience a crash like that.
I appreciate my son Gordie for leaving work right away in Red Deer and coming to my aid.
I’m also thankful for my Black Press colleague Stu Salkeld who stepped in right away to get the papers to press for me because of course it had to happen when I was on deadline.
Oh, one more thing, I had never felt so vulnerable than when the Alix firefighters and Red Deer EMS tended to me at the scene. I hurt, didn’t feel good at all and my blood pressure was 218 over something (I can’t remember the bottom number). But I do remember thinking, “If a reporter comes along and takes my photo I will take his/her camera and render it unusable.”