Up until yesterday, I had never been in a car accident. And I hope I'm never in another.
I had just picked up my three-year-old from the sitter, and we were following our normal route home, up the hill to the intersection with the stoplight (as opposed to the one without, which I always consider rather dangerous)
It happened quickly, but the retrospective plays in slow-mo.
Pulled up to intersection as always, slowly. (The street has parking on both sides and I live in fear that a child or animal will make a break for it and dart out.) Stopped at the red light. Waited for some goon to do a three-point turn in the intersection on the cross street, even as the light turned green. Then, took my foot off the brake, moved to accelerate and--bam.
A bicyclist came tearing eastbound down the center of the road (I was turning left to go westbound), crashed into my left fender, cartwheeled--with bike--across my hood and dashboard--and fell over to the right side. Thankfully, I was only doing single-digit mileage.
Moved to autopilot. Scout skills. Strong, calm, clear and careful. Stop the car. Check the victim. One bystander helped him get to the curb and I moved the van out of the travel lane. Called 911. Another bystander appeared, he saw the whole thing. Good. Toddler fine in back seat. Pile of napkins for victim to put pressure on the gashes on his face. His biking buddies show up (Geez, were they racing down Frederick Road in rush hour?), brother calls mother. I call husband... Let's get toddler out of van. Rescue team shows up. Three police, fire and ambulance. I'm shaking, but calm and clear.
Statements are given. Victim is stabilized and taken to local trauma center. I'm told that is standard, given that he hit was on a bicycle and struck a moving vehicle. No tickets are written, because this is not my fault (in retrospect, I question this--should this young man not get ticked for failing to travel in the proper lane, riding with no helmet, failing to obey traffic signals an failing to grant the right of way?) and clean up begins. Photos are taken, statements are taken. Another witness had given a statement confirming ours.
Copy of the police report. Drive home. It's all in the motions. Call insurance. Arrange for repairs. Worry about the 18-year old laying in Shock Trauma.
If you want a visual of what a head does to a windshield, here you go:
It may not be clear in the picture, but that's a significant impact. I was moving in the single digits -- 5 mph tops -- but this kid was flying. Force equals mass multiplied by acceleration. There was ample force.
He was not wearing a helmet.
Had he been on the right shoulder, the proper way, I would have seen him.
Had he obeyed the traffic signals and slowed down and stopped, well...
I do hope that he's ok. But part of me also hopes that a lesson in bike safety was learned, even though it was delivered by the worst of teachers.
It's still a bit surreal.
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