Monday, January 14, 2013
I had taken Savannah and her girlfriend down an hour before - they wanted to get good seats, but I wanted to wait until Asia got home so we could go together, so I just dropped the girls off. It was cold out, and there were just a few stray flakes of snow falling here and there. The roads were dry.
When Asia got home, he mentioned that the roads were getting a little slick on his drive up the hill. Not unusual for Spokane...
Spokane city crews do a pretty amazing job of keeping our roads de-iced and plowed. So when it snows here, generally, you just go where you need to go. It certainly doesn't stop us from getting where we have to go.
Down we went... the roads had less than an inch of snow on them, but again, nothing we aren't used to.
We got to a section of hill that is the steepest part of our commute each day - a part where the road splits, with two lanes going north in a divided section where there is a high concrete wall on your left and a low concrete wall and a skinny little sidewalk on your right. It's also a section of road with an "S" curve - so you come around a corner at the top of the hill, then curve around the other way as you pass the concrete walls until you get to the 'bottom' of the hill.
We came around that corner and immediately saw, about 2/3 of the way down the hill, two cars stopped in the middle of the road. I couldn't tell you if they'd been in an accident, because everything from then on happened so fast... but I'm assuming that's why they were essentially parked on the roadway, blocking both lanes.
Asia immediately knew we were in trouble. He slowed down and immediately and gently applied the brakes in hopes of being able to stop before we got to the 'parked' cars.
We started sliding.
We turned sideways a bit before we hit the first car.
Within 10 seconds, we were hit from behind by another car. That impact swung our car around 180 degrees and smashed us up against the curb. Now we were facing uphill, into oncoming traffic.
Bang! Hit head-on by a car unfortunate enough to be the next one into the pile. That impact made us slide sideways so now our car was perpendicular to the curb, with Asia's side smashed into someone... now my passenger side is the target, and sure enough, the next car to come sliding down the hill hits my passenger door.
It was like a pinball game with car after car after car sliding down the hill, smashing into the pile. Every impact created a chain reaction of vehicles rearranging themselves, scraping and crashing and groaning to find a new resting place until the next one hit.
They just kept coming. When it was all said and done, there were 19 cars piled up.
After numerous hits (we honestly don't know how many) Asia's protective instincts took over and he determined to get us away from the danger of every new impact. He put the car in reverse, managed to back out far enough from the cars to turn the wheels down the hill, and somehow, we slid our way out of the mess and into a parking lot a little further down the hill.
There we waited for what seemed like forever for police and tow trucks. As we got out to look at the damage to the car, both of our doors creaked and thunked with the terrible sound of metal on metal... the radiator was leaking fluid, the front end was totally destroyed, with bumper and hood damage. Every panel on the car with maybe the exception of the back doors had damage.
Asia and I were both impressed with how 'good' the car looked on our first inspection... until you really started looking. There were dents everywhere, but we are pleased with how well our Kia held up considering how many times she was hit. Just glancing at her from any angle besides the front, you would never have known what we'd just been through. We've had much more minor accidents over the years in other cars where the damage has been WAY more obvious. Kia did good designing our Sorento.
That doesn't change the fact that she's still pretty messed up... we're hoping to hear from the insurance adjuster today.
None of us were 'hurt.' At least not with anything obvious or life-threatening. The cars were only going at the most 30-35 mph... so the impacts were actually quite slow - none of our many airbags deployed. However, we hurt. It's amazing to me how a body reacts to something like this... every muscle is sore... we are tired... exhausted really. An ordeal like that takes a lot out of you.
I find myself feeling vulnerable and more than just a little emotional.
It's one of those life occurrences where you are forced to recognize that in the blink of an eye everything can change. We were fortunate. But it could have turned out so differently.
The car is replaceable. Our confidence driving will return. In the grand scheme of things, everything is going to be alright.
I know that.
But still, I will spend the next little while moving a little slower, holding my kids a little tighter, being thankful for a strong, protective car, a husband with good driving instincts, and insurance that will take care of us.
I may hunker down a little more than usual this winter. And I will welcome spring with more appreciation than ever before, I think.
Life is good, you know. Every little bit of it. Take a moment to notice that today...