Walking Away From a Car Crash

20 Jul

crashThis feels weird to write about. I try to remember the details, but they’re hazy. This was the first serious car crash either of us has been in. The first time I’ve ever seen air bags go off. We got off lucky. A drunk driver runs a red light and crashes into you, you don’t expect to walk away completely unharmed. We were on our way to our first catering tasting, with East Side King, for the wedding. Caitlin had her planning book in her lap and was reading questions to me aloud. “Buffet or family style?” “Ethnic or comfort food?” “Dinner or appetizers or late night snacks?” And then the questions stopped.

Caitlin saw the car coming before I did. We think she yelled, “Look out!*” I know I saw a black car that looked like a flash coming from right to left. I know I slammed on the brakes. I think I yelled out, “Hold on!**” I remember feeling like the impact was inevitable and bracing for it. I remember both our air bags deploying and slowing to a stop. I remember the smoke and the smell. I remember Caitlin yelling out “I can’t hear anything!” even though she could hear***. I remember asking if she was OK over and over. Somehow we were. Scared by the smoke, we got out of the car immediately****. Cops were on the scene instantly. The other car spun 180 degrees and was facing the wrong way*****. Everyone kept asking if we were OK. Caitlin wasn’t sure she was******. I was relieved we were. We filled out a lot of paperwork. Then we walked the mile home. Feeling uneasy crossing every street.

*It feels like I just whispered, “No,” to myself. But we know I must have said something loud enough for Zack to hear, because it caused him to look up.

**I think I remember this, too.

***It was like if someone came up from behind you and put the hands tightly over your ears. I could only hear things through a sort of cloud — I was seriously concerned I might go partially deaf.

****There was a sort of beat where I sat there, stunned, and then immediately just took my seatbelt off and left all my belongings in the car, just stepping out to try and observe what had just happened and figure out if there was anything on me that was punctured or broken.

*****Since the car was facing the wrong direction and had kind of spun off to the side, I didn’t even see it at first. I thought the person had driven off unscathed, just a hit-and-run situation. This made me incredibly angry (as if I wasn’t going to be angry anyway), and so I shouted obscenities in the general direction of where I thought the car had sped off.

******I knew that often in these situations people wouldn’t realize they were hurt until later, so when the fireman asked me this I honestly didn’t know how to respond. I wanted to say, “Aren’t you supposed to tell me?” Instead I started bawling, which made the fireman uneasy so he threw up his hands and walked away. Not exactly the trauma response one would hope for. The taller fireman with him handled it better, approaching and asking if I could turn my head from side to side and up and down, since that was normally how people were injured.


We stayed in and ordered a pizza and watched “Scrubs” and tried to relax as much as we could*. The next day the other driver called me. She asked if we were OK. I asked what happened. Was she just not looking at the road? She said she’d started drinking again. Drunk at 6:40 on a Tuesday. The Austin drunk driving epidemic might be even worse than we’d thought. Disgusted, I told her “I hope this is a turning point for you. Thanks for calling,” and hung up. Almost a week later, it still feels unnerving to be driving my car. Well, my rental car. My car is still in the shop and may or may not be totaled. Honestly, I feel OK. Caitlin seems very skittish still, and understandably. It’s hard to let go and know that you don’t have control of what’s happening around you**. There was nothing we could do. We’ll probably be shaken by the experience for a while, and I’ll be dealing with the car issues for weeks, but we consider ourselves lucky***. We were a split second away from not being around to tell this story. Please, please, please don’t drink and drive and keep your eyes on the road. 

*I’ve never been less hungry for pizza. I choked down a slice and a half, feeling nauseous the whole time.

**I was basically an observer of the whole situation. I felt guilty for distracting Zack with wedding questions, and I can’t shake the “what if”s — maybe if I hadn’t been asking him questions he would have seen the car sooner and we would have avoided the wreck? I don’t know. He was looking at the road so I really don’t think it would’ve made a difference. But you just want to feel like you have SOME control, I think.

***SO lucky. We walked away sore but otherwise unscathed — we’ll both be visiting the doctor just to get an overall check-up but we are feeling good physically at this point. I also was holding a pen that blew up in my hands, covering them in ink — and somehow totally missing my pastel ModCloth dress I was wearing. That was extra lucky.


2 Responses to “Walking Away From a Car Crash”

  1. jessthetics July 24, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    You guys, this is so scary. I’m glad you’re both okay! Hopefully thi means that your bad luck’s out of the way and all your wedding planning will be plain sailing from now on, and I can’t wait to read more about that! xx

    • Caitlin August 10, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

      Thank you, Jess! It was super scary but definitely the biggest thing was that we are totally OK:) We’ve got a wedding planning post coming tomorrow, and I owe you a hand-written letter to tell you all about everything that’s happening!!

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