Today driving home from work, the row of traffic in front of me started stopping fast. I slowed down quickly verified that I would be stopped before touching the bumper in front of me. Then I looked in the mirror. The car behind me looked like it was slowing, but still looming close. It might hit my rear bumper. Then in quick succession, I heard brakes, felt it hit me, hoped it wasn't too hard of a hit, then felt my car run into the car in front of me, then everything got chaotic and confused.
My car bounced back and forth between the cars in front and behind me, like a pinball. I remember putting my hands in front of my face and making little whimpering noises. Gradually I realized the airbag had deployed. Gradually I realized the OnStar device in my car was talking to me. Gradually I realized that the car's engine was not running, and everything that had been loose in the car had flown to a new location. OnStar asked if I needed help, and I said we'd had a crash in the middle of the freeway and definitely needed police. They asked if I was okay, and I said I thought so. Then the first person transferred me to another OnStar person while they called the police. (It was just like in the commercials!)
I sat there in my car. I'd put my hazards on, but I was in the middle of the freeway with traffic rushing by on either side. I realized that there was a whole row of us who seemed to have collided with one another, and most of them were carefully getting off to the side of the road. I was scared that somebody new would collide into me, but I couldn't get my car started. I talked to the onstar guy, who kept asking me if anyone was hurt, thrown from the car, pinned, and whatnot. I said that I could see other cars involved, and people walking around, and I didn't see any signs of injury. I did not need an ambulance.
I stayed huddled in my car, talking with my rear-view mirror (where onstar lives). I wasn't getting out of my car in the middle of the freeway, and I didn't know how to move my car, so I just sat there. I started looking for my cell phone to call M, but couldn't find it. The onstar guy offered to call M for me. At first I declined, but as I continued to be unable to find my phone I asked if he could connect me to him. (I've seen that in the commercials too.) M didn't answer his phone though, probably because he didn't recognize the number.
At this point a stranger darted through traffic, approached my car, and asked if I could start it. I said 'no', and he said, "Okay put it in neutral and I'll push it." He was this skinny little guy, pushing my car through traffic all by himself. I navigated one lane over, where there was room, but the right-most lane still had cars boldly driving right through the accident. Finally he managed to stop traffic, and a couple other guys ran up and helped push me off the road. I was SO RELIEVED to be off that freeway! I yelled "thank you" out my car window, and my noble stranger disappeared into the
The onstar guy stayed on the mirror until the police finally arrived. Once I was off the road, I felt safe enough to emerge from the car and inspect the damages. I had realized at this point that there were FIVE cars involved in the accident. The folks in front of me were stopping quickly, I had stopped, the woman behind me probably would have stopped, but the kid in the rear hit his brakes way too late and smashed in going probably around 40 mph? She he smashed into the woman behind me, who pushed me hard enough into the car in front of me that my airbag deployed. The guy in front of me says I hit him twice, which means I bounced back and forth a few times before the dust settled.
Once I climbed out of my car, I also wanted to hunt for my phone. After quite a lot of searching, I found it in the back seat, by the floormat, under some napkins. How it got from its cubbie on my dashboard to back there is anyone's guess. (I also found sunglasses, which had been on my face, on the passenger's seat.) That's when I finally was able to talk to Mike, and tell him what had happened. He offered to come out and get me. Even though I was 30 minutes away from home, I was so relieved to have him come. My knight in shining armor, coming to rescue me.
I realized pretty quickly that I'd slammed my left kneecap hard on the dashboard. Yes the left knee, that's already had four surgeries. Mike examined it though (yay for having my own PA!), and he thinks I lucked out. No ligament damage, and it's probably just a bad bone bruise. We'll keep an eye on it tomorrow.
Finally a couple of police officers arrived, only shortly before Mike arrived. They took paperwork, asked questions, the usual. I guess that "what had happened" was fairly obvious, because he didn't really take much in the way of statements. He called some tow trucks. The tow guy got my car to start again, but it still wasn't safe to drive. I was glad M had come to give me a ride home.
Next comes the surreal part of the whole event
While we were standing around doing paperwork, we noticed a whole bunch of police lights. "And look," I said, there are a bunch of cars stopped behind ours." Approaching us were somewhere between 10 and 20 motorcycle cops, sweeping the road. "What's happening," we asked, "was there a major accident back there?"
"Maybe it's some VIP..." "It looks like a motorcade...." "Wait, isn't Joe Biden supposed to be in town?" "....holy cow, I think the Vice President's going to drive by in the middle of our accident!"
And he did, after swarms of patrol cars and secret service cars, there came a limousine with American flags waving. I saw people in the car, and I actually waved at them, although it was going too fast for me to be sure if I'd actually seen the VP himself. What a way to cap off an already very out-of-the-ordinary evening!
I should note that the vice president did not stop and offer to help. Perhaps he saw Mike and figured everything was well in hand.
(this is not my photo)