Sunday, November 13, 2005

Caution: Bridges Freeze Before Roadways

So I escape from work early on Thursday after the conference call from hell and take Friday off so I can escape to the wilds of the White Mountains for a weekend with the family, including my SISTER who was flying into Boston from Virginia.

Thursday night was a rush. I got home, went to the axis of evil pet store to get bird food because I was in a pinch (excuses) got the birds fed and watered, got my shit together, and without making us late despite my father's sighs and comments, got out the door at the predetermined time of 5:30pm.

We made our way slowly to Logan, cutting through Quincy Center (WHY???) and then hopping on the x-way again, and pulled into terminal A. My father had to take care of some police business, so I went in to wait for my sister's flight to arrive, killing the time by buying an Oprah magazine (which I never read) and peanut m and m's. After a little bit of waiting, she arrived, my dad met us, and we were off.

IT wasn't too cold in Boston, which was good since my sister was in a white hoodie, cami, black jammie pants and flip flops. I had my work clothes on, high heel boots, a silk blouse and grey wool pants with my raincoat. hahaha we were kind of dressed opposite, but we didn't really care, even though we were planning on stopping for dinner at Uno's in Concord.

We did end up stopping, had some great appetizers, some beer, pizza and then started out for Lincoln, NH, about another 20 or so exits north. My father had mentioned switching drivers but he never did, so we just let him do the driving, while I occasionally checked in with my mother at the other end. She had left earlier in the day with my grandmother, something my father had orchestrated so my mother would be surprised by my sister's sudden appearance.

By the time we were passing Plymouth, NH my dad mentioned that the gas gauge was on 'E'. Unlike me, he enjoys driving this way - I think it's the "let's see how far I can go on "E" " type of thrill thing, something I personally do not share. I kept saying "Well there's gas at Campton, and we're coming up on it" and I think he FINALLY got the hint when he pulled off at Exit 28. SHortly before pulling off, it had started to snow a bit, and while gassing up in Campton it was REALLY snowing and starting to accumulate. The temperature was constantly dropping as well. My dad leapt in the car after filling up and was like "shit it's cold, good thing we're almost there"

We proceeded on to Lincoln, and when we passed the "Lincoln 1 mile" sign I called my mom to tell her we were almost there. No sooner had I hung up the phone, do we start into a slow skid. Then everything happened so fast. We start to skid and then we move to the left side of the road, and my father slowly turn the wheel into the skid, then opposite. Soon we are careening around the highway, which was thankfully deserted at 11:00pm. We are going to the left and right. While this was happening very fast, it seemed like it was slow motion, and the whole time all I could think was "please keep us upright, PLEASE keep us upright" As we were propelled forward my father seemed to be losing and gaining control of our SUV all at the same time. We started to slide right again, and we hit the right rear on the guard rail. This slowed us down a lot, but we then bounced off and slid left. It then became painfully apparent that we were going to hit something, and I, like an ASS said "we're gonna hit" and braced myself for impact with the guardrail. Sure enough, we hit the left guardrail, very hard. All I really remember is my left leg flying up and whacking under the dashboard, I don't remember the whiplash that we'd all be suffering from the next day. We sat there for a split second, and then I heard my sister crying and my dad saying "ARE YOU ALRIGHT" It was him I was worried about most; we hit in his corner of the car, and I had been watching him the whole time we skidded across the road, I don't know why. Maybe cause I didn't want to see the road, maybe cause I knew we were entirely in his hands. He yelled, so I figured he was ok, and instead turned around in my seat to see my sister, who was surrounded by luggage, shaken up, but seemed ok. I tried to hug her around the seat, which obviously didn't work, and turned to look at my dad, but he was no longer in the car. I heard "get out of the car girls, get out NOW GET OUT OF THE CAR" My sister hopped out, and I fumbled for the plastic bag I had packed for her with mittens, a hat, boots, socks and her winter jacket. "ALLISON get out of the CAR now!" THen I thought "Oh god, the car is on fire" because I smelled the brakes and their burning smell, so I scrambled, found the bag, and hopped out. My father was hunched over on his knees in the snow covered ravine on the other side of the guardrail saying "I can't find my glasses" This was because he had done a superman-esque leap out of the driver's side window, as the door was jammed shut by the guard rail. As he fumbled he said "CALL YOUR MOTHER" I called her and said "we're ok, but we've been in an accident" dead silence. I said "mom are you still there?" and she goes "yeah. you sure you're ok? what do I do" I said "call information, get the number for NH State Police, tell them where we are, and tell them we need someone out here, but we're not hurt" My dad continued to search. Between hugging my poor sister who had been hit in the head by a cooking pot during the accident, and helping her track down a jacket, I asked my father if I should call the state police. He said "YES" so I dialed *77. Call cannot be completed as dialed. Fucking A. Called 411. "What listing" I say "New Hampshire State Police" "What city" I say "New Hampshire State Police" they say "What listing?" I say "NEW HAMPSHIRE STATE POLICE IMMEDIATELY" "we're sorry please wait for a specialist." Well it must've been a lonely Thursday night and said specialist must've been jerking off in the back, because I counted 10 rings and hung up. SO I dialed 0. I get an operator. I say "I need to be connected to the New Hampshire State Police immediately, this is an emergency" She says "Oh you have to dial 911" AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
So FINE. I dial 911 and I hear James f-ing Earl Jones going "Cingular" and FINALLY "New Hampshire State Police Emergency Line how can we help you?" Sigh of relief. I go through the whole thing "we've been in an accident, not hurt, really shaken up, road's got black ice, other people are skidding, we're most afraid of being hit by someone else, yadda yadda" The guy says "you're on the other side of the guardrail?" I say "yes" He says "now you're in New Hampshire, right?" SWEET JESUS MOTHER OF GOD NO I'M IN FLORIDA BUT WANTED TO SEE WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF I CALLED 911 IN NEW HAMPSHIRE THEN TIMED HOW LONG IT TOOK THEM TO RESPOND! I say "yes sir, in New Hampshire" So he sends someone. We do a quick damage assessment: we hit the guardrail so hard, not only did we rip part of it out of the ground, but it jammed itself behind the tire and under the car. We were not going to be backing out and driving off the exit anytime soon....

These conversations should have been a good indication of how long we were about to wait for help. A random guy ran down the highway a few minutes after the crash with a flashlight and said "I was behind you and saw everything are you guys ok? Oh and I called the state police" While he and my dad were talking a tractor trailer skidded on what we came to find out was a frozen bridge, heading right towards us. AMy and I ran down the ravine and my dad and the other guy jumped the guardrail before the tractor trailer regained control and continued to speed down the highway. My dad sent the guy back to his car so he wouldn't be killed for helping us, and we huddled together to wait. And wait. and wait. After 30 minutes of waiting in the snow, a local policewoman pulled up. Having the safety of bluelights, I got my sister some sneaker from her suitcase, and as I did that, the state trooper (who will henceforth be called "Gary with the Hot Ass") pulled up. After they made sure we were ok, my sister and I were invited to hang out in the back of the police lady's car til help came and got us out.

This was both incredibly boring as well as slightly educational. Boring because this involved about two hours of waiting. But interesting because Hot Ass and local police girl had great conversations LPG: You hear about the meth lab on main st? HAG: No, but I had to respond to an arson last night, then arrested so and so for the second time for hitting up cars, but once I cuffed him he told me where he had stolen the stuff from. Or the police radio also provided entertainment: Police "I need a number on an address I have to respond to, I think it's the XYZ family" Dispatch: "you've been there before, I think it's 789" Police: "Yup, been there before. Ok. Thanks." Also, Local Police Girl made several heated phone calls to the Department of Transportation: "I TOLD YOU YESTERDAY to get out here and salt this bridge cause it froze last night and I skidded, and now you've had 3 phone calls before 11pm and we STILL had 2 accidents. I am sitting here with the second accident and I see two cars up ahead that have gone off the road" hahahah she scared them shitless cause 20 minutes later 3 salt trucks came.

A ramp truck came too, but was useless. He caused some more damage trying to extract the car, then said "I think we need the Fire Department to cut the guardrail up" SWEET thought Amy and I, firemen and power tools.

Now you have to remember that you are in New Hampshire in the start of the "North Country" and people don't see a lot of action. SO when the state police calls your local podunk fire department to take some heave equipment up to the highway and extract a car, they're gonna get excited, which is why two fully equipped fire trucks and a box truck were sent, along with about 18 firemen. The local police girl goes "jesus, what'd they send the whole brigade?" I said "oh let the firemen have their fun they get to use a saw..."

Around 1:30am we were finally extracted from the guardrail. My sister and I rode to the condo we were renting in the police car, while my dad went with the towing company. We were relieved to get there. We had to unload everything in the snow and cold and haul it in, but we made it in one piece.

I don't know if he's still doing it, but that night, my dad was really beating himself up about crashing. He said "I did everything I was trained to do, took my foot off the brake, turned into the skid and I still fucked up" I said "DAD you did everything right. If Amy or I had been driving we wouldn't have reacted properly and we would've rolled that thing over. You were amazing" The police officer had told us the grim truth. She said "thank god your dad's a cop and has all that training. Cause if you had flipped it, you would've jumped the guardrail, gone down the ravine, and then ended up below in the river, which is not where you want to be."

So basically, as much as my dad thinks he fucked up and messed up the car (we're waiting to see if it's fixable - it looks pretty bad, but not totally a lost cause) he is the one responsible for saving all of our asses. We got a chance to look at the accident scene in the daylight, and it was rather harrowing: we skidded about 50-75 feet across a bridge that was probaby a healthy 20 feet above the river. Had my father not known exactly how to react, we probably would've flipped at a much higher rate than the one at which we crashed, and definitely gone into the shallow river or its rock covered bank. He truly saved our lives, I think. And that's why he rocks.

Accident recount post officially over. The end. ;)

No comments: