My mother said yesterday as the thud and bang jolted her awake in the front seat.
Nope... well, actually yes... we did have a flat and it turned out we were also missing the entire wheel off the front passenger side of the truck. The thud and bang that had woken up my mother was actually the truck careening into the guardrail.
My dad fell asleep at the wheel... at 8:45 in the morning... we'd only been
on the road for three hours.
And me... I was in the back seat -in the middle, with my feet on the hump- that might be my favorite Howie Mandel skit of all time- with the kids and I must have dozed off at the same time as my dad. I'd been awake the whole time, but I never felt or saw it coming until seconds before we hit when my dad jolted and tried to correct.
We were all okay...scared, but okay. A good Samaritan in a black Dodge truck pulled over to make sure - thank you kind stranger- and we called 911. Then we had to wait for
the state police.
That's the worst part... I now know... when you've been in an accident on an Interstate, on a bend, coming down the side of a mountain... when the embankment on the other side of the guardrail, while by no means a cliff, is too steep for you to take your children down to wait safely...plus, it was 10 degrees out.
We had to wait and watch on the side of the road, hoping that none of the tractor trailers that came around the bend hit us. It was the longest 20 minutes of the whole day.
Special thanks go out to Gene at JRL Locksmithing in Shenandoah PA, who showed up ahead of the tow truck with his own truck to get my children safely off the highway, then stayed with us, transporting us back and forth to the rental car agency and helping my dad unload his truck into the rental cars. For in the manner of only men, letting my dad know that it happens all the time...heck, we passed two more accidents on two other roads in the area before we got back
on the road.
And my dad, my poor dad. He remains the safest driver I know..but I could see by his stance...the way he held himself...the way he smoked one cigarette after another - outside, because he's not allowed to smoke in the car with the kids, which I know, I know contributed to his drowsiness- because he was so freaked out... he feels like he let us down. But he didn't. He made a mistake and taught us all a lesson, one in which thankfully the only casualty is the estimated $7000 in damage on the truck.
What he ended up doing was keeping us safe.
We rented two separate cars... I headed on the rest of the way with the kids and my parents headed back to their house to deal with the paperwork. After leaving the house at 6:30 am, being delayed three hours by the accident, hitting obnoxious amounts of
traffic, the kids and I walked in the door at 10 pm last night.
I have never been so happy to be home!
I'm thankful that
- it was my dad driving... if it had been anyone else, I KNOW the consequences would have been much much worse.... I mean the man brought a diesel truck with no wheel and thus no brakes safely to a stop heading down the side of a mountain!
- we were in the truck... if it had been any of the other cars...
- we weren't also towing the fifth wheel behind the truck
- the engine block and gas tank were NOT damaged so we were able to keep the heat on in the truck for the kids
- we didn't go over the guardrail
- the other drivers were on alert and did not add to our accident
- my ex, when I called to tell him what had happened was actually kind... to date, I haven't received any nasty emails!
- we were able to fairly easily obtain rental cars and get back
on the road
- NO ONE WAS HURT!!!!
I share this with you as a cautionary tale. Please drive safely... when you are on long trips, stop frequently to stretch your legs and regroup.
2010 Went Out With a Bang.
I love you Daddy! Thank you for keeping us safe!