Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy Saint Patrick's Day... and Car Accident Pictures

Today our car was totaled. We have loved that car well, and we are grateful to be okay.

This is a really long post because I wanted to record all that I remembered of today. Please don't feel obligated to read it, but if you do read the whole thing and you still have any questions, just text or email me. The short version of the story is that we were hit, Turtle was driving, it wasn't remotely her fault, we're all okay, and that fact feels like a really big miracle.

Here is the KSL article (which gets at least one detail wrong - both Turtle & I went to the hospital in ambulances - but I don't know anything about the accuracy of the rest of it): http://www.ksl.com/?sid=38935666&nid=148&title=carjacking-chase-end-in-crash-driver-arrested

UPDATE: More links on our news: http://www.good4utah.com/news/local-news/suspect-steals-truck-from-man-who-stopped-to-help-after-crash

We took Turtle to an appointment at noon, but before returning her to school we stopped at home so that Wiggles could use the potty. (He's potty training, and it meant he stayed dry for a little longer! Hooray!)

While we were at home we switched drivers, from me to Turtle, for the drive to drop her back off at school. The two of us, plus both babies were in the car. We went down 13400 south to 3600, then turned North. We were chatting, and then my mother in law called to talk to me and I told her I'd call back in 5 minutes (presuming I could call back as soon as I dropped Turtle off). I hung up with her as we pulled up to the red light at 12600 South.

Turtle looked down at the clock, and saw that it read 1:34 before looking up to notice that the light changed, but she hesitated before moving forward. There was a vehicle in the left turn lane facing us, and I thought that she was slightly confused about him having the right of way instead of her, so I said "The light is green. You have the right of way. Go ahead." (She told me later that she's always nervous when someone is turning left toward her, and she didn't want to go before him.) She then tapped the gas, but panicked and hit the brake hard. She then looked around thought people behind her would wonder why she wasn't moving, so she took her foot off the break. The car automatically started rolling forward, but she had barely touched the gas before we were hit. (Again, our light had been green for some time at this point.)

We were hit on the front drivers side with such impact that we spun at least 270 degrees. We had been heading north, and we came to a stop facing southwest. We had been in the northbound lane there on 3600, entering the intersection from the south and going north, but fortunately we landed out of traffic, close to the sidewalk of the south east corner of the intersection (kind of in the bike lane, on 12600). As we spun, the rear of the driver side of our car also hit another truck. I would estimate that we moved at least 20 feet, perpendicular to the direction in which we had previously been traveling. Both of us had our glasses fly off immediately, so we couldn't see anything after initial impact.

Both airbags deployed immediately. As we stopped spinning, it was like something was squeezing my chest and I could not breath. It took great concentration and effort to draw several breaths and gradually reopen my lungs. Both babies were screaming the whole time we were spinning, so I felt much calmer than I would have if they had been quite. I can't remember exactly what Turtle was doing when we stopped spinning - maybe moving, or maybe trying to talk, but I knew she was also conscious and alive. I took after at least 3 or 4 breaths, maybe more, and each one required great concentration as I forced it to happen. Then I was able to get enough air to speak, and I asked Turtle where her cell phone was. She still had it, and she tried to call 911 with it, but the call never did go through. It just rang. When I realized it was just ringing and there was no answer right away, I got out and got the babies out and held them in my arms at the side of the road. Like I said, we weren't directly in the way of traffic, so I was able to get them out and over to safety without really worrying about being hit again. 

Turtle doesn't remember the impact or time spinning at all, but after she came to she looked at the clock again and it read 1:38.

The impact was so severe that the driver's seat was actually pushed sideways into the center console, even though that wasn't the point of impact.  I hate to think what would have happened if it had been.
I tried to sit in the dirt between the sidewalk and... I'm not sure what's there, but it's on the far side of the sidewalk from the road. I accidentally sat in a bunch of stickers, so I stood up again with both babies in my arms. Several people came to help - there were a couple of women who especially wanted to do anything they could for us. I am so grateful for them. Someone went back to the car and found my phone for me, and someone also found my glasses. We tried to call Tux Man but couldn't get through; I ended up texting a neighbor whose husband also works for the LDS church, and she was able to track down his work number and get ahold of him. She did, and he came quickly. His work is probably less than a mile from where the accident occurred, so it really didn't take long. By the time he arrived, I was sitting in the back of an ambulance, still with both babies; I knew the best bet for them calming down was for them to stay with me, in my arms. Strawberry calmed down as soon as I had her in my arms out of her carseat; Wiggles didn't calm down until Tux Man arrived and held him, and then he was okay. 

We went to the emergency room up the hill at the U of U Daybreak office, because that's where we usually go and that's where all our records are. Turtle went in one ambulance and I went in another, and Tux Man to both babies in his truck. He already had an extra carseat for Wiggles, because he carries that regularly, and he just put Strawberry back into her infant carrier and took her that way.

I was still having some trouble breathing, especially when I moved my arms or when they took my blood pressure. (At first my blood pressure was a little high, but before we left the hospital it had come down to 121 over 65. Hooray for exercise! lol) Also, my abdomen is very, very sore. Turtle has a large goose-egg on top of her head, where she it the door frame. She doesn't remember the impact at all. They eventually did a CT scan of her head, and of my back and abdomen. Everything looked normal so we were discharged. I am grateful!

As I said, Turtle doesn't remember the impact(s) at all. The last thing she can recall was seeing something coming straight at her, though the drivers window. Based on that, and having looked at the car afterward, we think that he turned to his left immediately before impact. It would have been easy for this to have been a far worse accident, if we really had been broadsided. I feel awe that we are all safe and together still.

After we were at the hospital, I learned that the man who hit us had been going east on 12600 South and had run the light at Bangerter. I don't know if he also ran the next light, or if it was green, but he then came through the light and hit us. After that, he stole the truck of one of the people who stopped to help us and he fled the scene. The police have now caught him and they will be pressing charges.

We stopped at the wrecking yard on our way home and took pictures of the car. I kind of wish I had gotten pictures of it at the site of the accident, but the babies were in my arms at first and by the time Tux Man had arrived to take them, we were about to pull away in the ambulance. I did get one picture of Turtle being rolled away to her ambulance, taken through the open back doors of the ambulance where I was sitting, but I don't think you can see the car in that picture at all.

When we saw the car, we thought that it was as if Strawberry had been in a bubble and was completely protected. The front of the car was completely smashed in; the drivers seat was actually moved sideways into the center console, in spite of it being so far behind the point of impact. The rear corner of the car was also smashed, and our double stroller in the trunk is no longer usable at all. (That is a really loss, and one that we will need to replace quickly. I probably use it on average 5 days a week.) But where Strawberry was sitting, she wasn't injured in any way, and her door was fine and like I said, it was like there was a bubble around her.

We think that something hit the front windshield from the inside - possibly my phone, but maybe not because it seems fine. Whatever hit the windshield, regardless of whether it was from inside or outside the car, didn't hit my head, and I am grateful for that.

Truly, I feel that we were protected by angels today. If Turtle had pulled forward with the usual speed with which she does, as a learners permit driver, then she and Strawberry would likely both have been severely injured or killed. Wiggles is scared, but physically appears alright. I'm so glad we were all properly buckled! My sister in law and my mother in law, and Wiggles' cousin who is 6 weeks older than him, came up from Provo and got to our house a few minutes before we got home. When we arrived they were cleaning the kitchen for us, and Wiggles was very happily distracted by playing with his best friend. He wanted both Tux Man and I to put him to bed tonight, so I think we may be dealing with a scared toddler for a few days, but I'll be happy to hold him for as long as I possibly can.

Our penguin family was behind the times, since it only showed four of the six of us. Still, I am sad that it is gone now.

 Snuggle Puppy was able to go to one friend's house after school, and then another, and he was well cared by having good company until we could come back. 

I feel like we have enjoyed countless blessings today. I'd like to list them all, though I doubt I could. I am really, really grateful. We are all okay. I loved my car, and I am truly, deeply saddened to have it gone. But we are okay. My iPad is bent but it still functions (I am writing on it right now, in fact), though I suspect it will die in the next few days because the screen is showing bright spots that I think are spreading. We will need new carseats and a new vehicle, but when I imagine coming home without one of my children... I'm so grateful that they weren't even severely injured. My body hurts. In fact, you might say I feel like I've been hit by a truck! Except that it was actually a van. But we are okay, and really, that is all that matters.

Initially I forgot to include the pictures from my phone, but here they are:
view from the back of the ambulance, watching them wheel Turtle away, right before they closed the doors

my bent iPad (side view)

bruise I didn't know about until the nurse asked
another such bruise / scratches

Tux man's sister, holding Wiggles and his cousin