March 3rd, 2015; just more than three years ago. A night I will never forget. I will never not have nightmares about that night. I will never look at driving during inclimate conditions the same.
Before I was a member of 990WBOB.com and working other media jobs, I worked in a restaurant a few towns over. There had been a big snow storm once a week that winter, and I just so happened to work every single one of them. It felt like every Monday in February that winter it had snowed. A lot.
And I had to drive home during every single one of them.
This gave me the confidence to take on any storm. To feel invincible during rough weather. It couldn’t happen to me… and it wouldn’t happen to me.
Until it did.
After a shift on a stormy Tuesday night, I took on the snow-covered roads as I always did. I know the tips with which we are all familiar. An important tip: take the highways and main roads, instead of side streets.
I did just that, getting on I-95 at exit 7 heading north toward (the old) exit 4 on I-295.
The highways -- those roads that are supposed to be free of snow due to all the traffic -- were coated. Despite being on the highway, I had to travel slowly. No one could really blame me, could they?
Eventually, I would have needed to merge into the left lane, and between exits 7 and 8, I made my move when there was nobody around. And that’s when it happened.
My tires had no traction. On a major highway, there was no pavement to be found. My car swerved out of control. I followed the rules of New England's winter roads. I pumped the brakes. I did everything in my power to get control back. After the car changed its direction for what felt like the fiftieth time, it found its path.
My car went straight into the guard rail. The few seconds that it took to get there felt like an eternity. Settling with car facing the guard rail, facing the other side of the highway was no less nerve-wracking. The driver’s side of my car -- which of course included the seat I was sitting in -- was exposed to oncoming traffic. I was a sitting duck, but I turned my hazards on, just to ensure I could be seen.
People question my decisions at this point.
Was I supposed to back into traffic on the highway? Absolutely not, that’s how more people would get injured.
Should I have gotten out of the car? Nope. That would have left me with even less protection from other vehicles than I would by sitting in the left lane; my door and the snow covered roads being the only thing separating me from other cars.
After making a few phone calls, I took a minute to analyze the situation. My top priority was getting home safe. The next thing I knew, I saw headlights getting closer and closer.
The car coming couldn’t stop. The roads were layered with snow. They were completely unplowed. At an estimated 45 MPH, he slammed directly into the driver’s door where I was seated. There was no side airbag in that car. I took the impact almost directly.
The sound of the car bending and breaking right besides my left ear will always haunt me. The darkness that ensued was terrifying. As my car spun, I hit my head, and was knocked unconscious. I woke up screaming, with my car facing the other side of the road now and broken glass covering my body as I felt the cold air against my skin.
The driver of the car that hit me was out of his car the second I woke up. I called 9-1-1 to get help. My door [unpictured] was pressed directly against my legs, pinning me against the center console. All I could do was hope for the best.
The man who hit me, probably around twenty-five, was out of his car checking to see if I was alright, because he had seen me after being knocked out. As state troopers arrived and he spoke with them, more cars became involved in the accident. His car was hit by another car that couldn’t stop. That car hit my car, which hit another car, which hit him and through him about twenty feet, and straight to the ground.
In total, seven cars were involved in the accident. Some cars had four wheel drive. Some cars were well equipped for the snow. The drivers, myself included, had successfully experienced driving through the snow in the past. But not this time.
To get me out of the car, the jaws of life had to be used to remove my door. Obviously the car, my first car, was totaled. Despite no side airbag, I was lucky to escape without serious injury. I spent a large portion of that night in the hospital. I suffered a minor concussion and bruising severe enough where I couldn’t walk without extreme pain for a month.
It takes one incident like this to realize that this can happen to anyone. You, myself, and all of the other readers of this article. It could happen to anyone. At any time when there is rough weather.
Please. In today’s snow storm and any other down the road. Remember my story. Remember, that driving on icy or snow covered roads should be avoided whenever possible.
Remember to buckle up. And remember, you are not invincible.
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