Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Driving to LA Day 1: near death experience

Short story,
I left Roy at 5am and drove to Gilroy, CA. arriving at 5pm. The drive was pretty pleasant. I listened to classical until it crapped out after Salem and then NPR until Eugene made it stop, then switched to podcasts. I tired from that about the time I crossed the border into California (they apparently have a border check there, I think they were confused as to which side of the state they are supposed to guard) I turned to more techno-ish and rocky tunes. Cranking on these through California, somewhere halfway through the mid 500's (milepost marker) on I-5 something scary happened.

The truck in front of the car in the lane directly left of me swerved violently. There was recent construction work that left the left side of the highway without a shoulder and the truck veered enough into that to start him out of control. He corrected right then left then right, each time turning sharper and causing a large dust plume that hid the action from my sight for a moment until I saw him shoot straight into the oncoming traffic on the other side of the highway. The only thing dividing the two directions was some grass. Both directions of I-5 were full of cars, and the dust cloud blocked my view of the oncoming traffic as the truck shot up the grass becoming completely airborn before slamming down on the road and continuing full speed across all three lanes of oncoming traffic. Lucking it found the only pocket of non-cars and shot across the highway through the ditch on the opposite side, catapulting the truck feet into the air through a fence and landing not-so-gently in a field.

Being a responsible citizen I pulled off to the side of the road, pressed my emergency flashers and called 911. The only other cars that stopped on the whole highway were the car right next to me, who also narrowly missed being a part of the accident by sheer luck and the first car in the other direction that just missed a head-on collission at 70+mph by feet. The driver and passengers of the truck all stepped out of the vehicle, I was afraid they were hurt as the truck had quite a few aerial maneuvers meant only for pigs trained as ballerinas.

Since the 911 operator was not too interested in hearing about the event from me and the the people seemed to not be seriously injured, and the traffic just kept its status quo, I merged back into the swarm and moved on. I found myself shaking a bit. Twice earlier in the drive I had veered onto the rumble strip and corrected myself. Had I done that accidently on this stretch of the road...And then to think about how close that truck was to something seriously terrible. Seconds earlier or later and it would have been slammed side-on by multiple vehicles going 70mph, or corrected the wrong way and rolled (which it seriously threatened to do several times). I've been first on-scene to a bloody accident before, keeping a bleeding teen talking until the ambulance arrived, having him black out several times. That's an experience I am happy to have avoided today.

So all in all, California roads are a bit rougher than Oregon roads.

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