Sunday, August 28, 2005

What are the odds?

When I was a small child, my family would go to my grandparents’ house in St. Louis for Christmas (every year). It was a good 11 – 12 hour drive.

My story really begins when we got to “Somewhere, Kentucky”.
My brother and I were asleep in the backseat (no seatbelts) and my sister was in the front seat in between my parents. I woke to the sound of a honking horn, it was continuous. I awoke feeling disoriented and noticed my dad was honking and swerving. Then I realized he was trying to avoid an oncoming car. I was young, but I knew this was strange. This was a four lane highway, and the oncoming car was on our side. My dad could not go on the opposite side of the highway because there was on coming traffic, and the other way would have put us in a pretty steep ditch. So he headed for the ditch and the guy still hit us. Guess why? He had fallen asleep at the wheel and was drunk. Fortunately, none of us in my family were terribly hurt, but we had a lot of cuts and bruises. The drunk man was hurt pretty bad, broken ribs, broken legs and internal bleeding. This really made an impression on me, even though I was only about 4 years old.

I was lucky to never be in a car accident again, until…..I was 19 years old.
My friend and his brother took me to a hockey game. When we arrived at the Coliseum there was a religious group outside of the entrance passing out pamphlets and flyers and asking “would you go to heaven if you die tonight?” We talked about that for a while. After the game was over, we headed home. We got to a certain point and turned around to go back to the convenience store to get a soda. (Hmmm, I wonder if our fate would have been different if we had not turned around?) After getting the soda, we got back in the car to head home. I forgot to mention that the car we were in was a small two door, 4 cylinder car. My friend was nice enough to let me sit in the front and his brother was driving. Anyway, we were traveling along through the winding roads going through the rolling hills. It was pitch black because there were no road lights on these hillside roads. We had started discussing the incident of the religious group and their question they had proposed to the fans coming into the building. All of the sudden, we could hear a car squealing its tires and it kept getting louder. We were headed up the hill towards the horseshoe turn and a car (almost a tank – an old ’66 Impala) came flying around the curve, went off the road, almost off the cliff and turned in time to slam head-on into us. It was like slow motion, I thought that was it for us. Once he hit, it was a flash, it spun us around to the opposite direction. I blacked out for a bit, as my head broke the windshield, my nose broke the dash, and my right knee broke the glove compartment. I awoke to the voice of my friend telling me to get out of the car because it was on fire. Both guys got out of the car on my side because the car was so crushed that the driver side door wouldn’t open. The other car started driving off and the brother of my friend chased him down stopping him telling him there were hurt people here. The look on my friend’s face told me that I was hurt although I couldn’t feel my face. Other people in passing, that happen to know us stopped and called for help. I was pretty worried when every person that looked at me said, “Oh my God, are you ok?” Well, I won’t get into any of the gory details, I was extremely lucky to end up with just a concussion, a broken nose and other bumps, cuts and bruises. Guess why we were hit. Yes, he was drunk! That makes it 2 for 2 with me. I was in two car accidents and both times I was hit by drunk drivers.

After that, I was not in any other car accidents until…..several years later.
I had been out to dinner and was on my way home. I was sitting at a stop light (sitting completely still) and all of the sudden, I was rear ended. He slammed me so hard; it ran me into the back of a station wagon. We all got out. The girls in front of me came back to my car, (they immediately realized that I had been pushed into them) saw they had no damage, asked me if I was ok, said they were ok, then took off. (I guess they had been drinking and did not want to be involved). The guy came from behind me and started asking if I was ok. Whew! Guess why he hit me. He was so drunk! I could smell the alcohol on his breath from 10 feet away. When the police came, they asked me what happened, I told them. When they were asking him what happened, he started saying “well, she hit the people in front of her” and some other “out of his head talking”. The police then told him that he had hit me into the people in front of me. (Of course the police asked about the people in front of me…I told them that they left when they realized no one was hurt and they had no damage). Fortunately, this time, I had not been injured, just a little whiplash. My car was drivable, so after some paperwork was done, I was told I could leave. As I drove off, they were testing him, (you know, the typical drunk driving tests…touching your nose and walking the line). He went to jail for DUI. I cannot remember what his % of alcohol level was, but I do remember it was far beyond the legal limit. Wow! 3 for 3. Three times in car accidents and all three times, hit by a drunk driver. What are the odds of that happening? All I can say is that I was very lucky that I was not hurt worse or even killed. Why would people not be more cautious? Do they not realize a mistake like that can change someone’s (and their own) life forever? Be safe everyone!

22 comments:

BeckEye said...

Yeah it's so not worth it. If you drive out, you should have enough responsibility to not drink or only have a few so that by the time you're ready to go home, you're capable of driving. And if somehow you get suckered into drinking more (and it happens) most times you can leave your car where it is and have a friend ride you home or take a cab. The cab fare is nothing compared to the cost of someone's life.

I'll admit that I've driven twice when I absolutely shouldn't have. I was much younger, but both times I woke up the next day with an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach. All the "could-haves". Sometimes it's just a realization that comes with age, that getting drunk is not THAT important. However, I know several people older than me that think driving drunk (well, they're never really drunk, of course) is no big deal.

Lee Ann said...

beckeye - you are right. Just be sensible about it. Why take the risk? And yes, the older we get the more we see things clearly. It's amazing how much our parents really knew all those years, huh?

Dave Morris said...

I too have driven home and not remembered it. It's been a while, but still scared the crap out of me the next morning.

The Zombie Lama said...

I'm sorry... that you had to visit St Louis that is... Eww...

:o)

I live near there now. Actually, it's not all that bad, but I must admit, I won't be sad to leave this place.

BadGod said...

I am glad you were fine in the accidents. But I am happy that the first drunk guy was injured. It always seems that the drunk walks away after killing someone else, you know?

ticharu said...

This wouldn't happen on foot, ya know, a drunk stumbling into you is just not as likely to end your life. It doesn't take a drunk to ruin your life in a car either, cars are fucking dangerous and I maintain that they were a stoopid invention. They at least should have designed them to be more like a bumper car! And pedal power would've been much safer too.

The Husband said...

holy shit! note to self...don't ride with lee ann- just kidding. my roommate got a dui in april. for those who don't know, Virginia has probably the toughtest laws in the country. this was his first offense and he got the following:
- 5 days in jail (served on weekends) i'm talking shackles, bright orange jump suit type stuff.
- suspended drivers licnese for a year. becuase he is in outside sales he has to drive and can only do so from 7am-6pm monday through friday
- this is the worst, he had to get a breathalizer installed in his car. that cost $200 and then there is a $65 monthly fee. he has to blow into it about once every 30 minutes. if he fails the test or doesn't blow when the buzzer goes off the car shuts down, horn starts honking and headlights start flashing.
- now has one of those hi risk driver insurance rates...i think he pays 2400 a year
- has to go to 16 AA meetings, 10 individual counseling sessions ($25 each) in addition to weekly state sponsored group meetings ($375). this was on top of $1500 lawyer bill and a $400 court fine.

Lee Ann said...

Dave - I can imagine, it is a scary feeling.

Zombie - St. Louis was always a great place for me. Of course, both sets of my grandparents lived there.

badgod - I hate the fact that anyone was hurt, but you are right. So many times a drunk will walk away with no injuries. Guess they don't tense up or something. I am glad it wasn't worse than it was.

ticharu - I agree. Tons of moving steel, very dangerous. It would be awesome to have bumper cars on tracks or something.

Lee Ann said...

Spacks - Wow! You are right, that is some serious stuff. I know that must be a hassle for him. Just think if he had killed someone. That would have stayed with him for the rest of his life. Now that he has to live with these consequences, the best thing he can do is to be thankful his situation wasn't worse. Good luck to him.

Becky said...

Never been into any encounter with a drunk driver, there I go jinxing myself! Especially since I don't drink I think that doubles the odds that I'll get hit by a drunk driver one day, huh?! lol

Lee Ann said...

rebecca - I hope not. Not everyone has the kind of luck I have had with car accidents. I guess the best thing you can do is know you are doing it right and watch others carefully.

Rob Seifert said...

The question of alcohol use in our society is a difficult one. I'm biased, of course, in that I don't drink and haven't for 10.5yrs. One of the reasons I quit is that, on more than one occasion, I arrived home without any recollection of how I'd gotten there. To my knowledge, I never killed anyone or hit another car, but honestly I can't say for sure. I reached a point where I couldn't discount the safety of others for my own comfort - most drunks don't get there. Me! Me! Me! Now! Now! Now! that's how many people think. It's important to consider the ramifications of your actions BEFORE taking action. You're very lucky to have survived 3 accidents with drunks at the wheel. I think I'd be driving around in a tank myself - preferably one with a working gun turret so I could avoid the impact all together...

RCS

Lee Ann said...

rcs - Congratulations on your sobriety. That is huge that you could do that. I like what you said... "It's important to consider the ramifications of your actions BEFORE taking action." Thanks.

Justice said...

I have no tolerance for people who choose to drink and drive. Our laws need to be tougher on those people.

Lee Ann said...

Justice - you are right. I think the laws in Virginia are pretty strict, according to Carl. I doubt the drunks that hit me had to go through all of that.

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Fred said...

Knock on wood, I've never had any situations like this. It's scary, though. You could be minding your own business, like your father, when suddenly a car appears out of nowhere.

My daughters are just starting to drive; I'm scared sh*tless.

mojoala said...

Well Lee Ann, one of two things could be said about this.

Either God was giving you some warning about future involvement with alcohol and he warning you to stay away from it

or

If I ever met you, and you asked me to get in your car and go somewhere, I would say: "Hell No!, you attract drunk drivers like stink on shit!"

hmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Lee Ann said...

fred - I am glad you have never encountered that. I know you must be worried about your daughters driving. You must have faith.

mojo - I hope it is the first reason. :)

mojoala said...

me too!

robmcj said...

"Do they not realize a mistake like that can change someone’s (and their own) life forever?"

When you decide (and it is a decision) to drive drunk, you cast aside responsibility to others, or even awareness of others.

Given the number of people who regularly drive drunk, what surprises me is that there's anyone left alive. Drunk driving kills masses more people than worldwide terrorism.

It would be nice if there were two separate road systems, one for drunks and one for responsible drivers.

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