Early this morning, at 1:42 AM, our Buick was totaled when a kid rear-ended us on the Parks Highway in Wasilla. Zero warning! We were driving and chatting about Wanda and Sue’s trip to Seattle (I’d just picked them up at the airport and we were headed to drop Sue at her place) when BAM! I found myself looking at the ceiling of the car and weird forces are pushing me. By the time I look back out the windshield I see we’re in the oncoming lane and going into a skid, with the driver’s side leading the way. Fortunately there was nobody coming that way.
As I tried to steer us out of the skid, I saw something flying through the air in front of us (we were sliding sideways at that point) and when it hit the pavement I realized it was a person. They hit the ground and flopped and rolled like a rag doll and then just lay there as we came to a stop.
There was no screaming while it all happened, but as we stopped Wanda said, “What was that?!” And I said, “Someone hit us.”
I looked back down the road in case someone else might come barreling along and smash us, but nobody was coming. The car didn’t really want to move, but I drove it past the body laying on the highway to the shoulder and turned it off. Then, in case someone might came along and swerve around the body I started the car again and drove it another 100 feet up along the shoulder.
My back was hurting but it didn’t feel like there was anything majorly wrong anywhere else. Sue and Wanda both said they were fine and Wanda called 911. At that point two other cars had stopped and I assumed someone else would go see about the guy laying in the road. I didn’t want to try to get out of the car until paramedics were there in case my back was worse than I thought.
Wanda’s door was jammed shut (the car hit us in the rear passenger side) and she climbed out once the police started arriving. I waited for a paramedic and then climbed out (and it was a climb because my seat had bent back so I was reclined at an angle) and found I could walk fairly well. I turned down the offer of being strapped to a backboard and whisked to the hospital in an ambulance.
While the emergency crew looked after the other driver we walked around the car and I discovered why it didn’t want to drive very well — the right-rear wheel and been ripped completely off the car. We could see it laying back a ways on the embankment of the road.
Lianne came to pick us up and after some final paperwork and talking to the police, we left our car by the side of the road for a tow truck to pick up and we took Sue home. By the time we dropped her off I decided I should go to the hospital to have my back looked at — every little bump was killing me. We got to the hospital about 3AM and didn’t get home until almost 4 hours later. The x-rays were negative so they didn’t think I had any fractures, just sore muscles.
I went to bed with 800mg ibuprofen and Wanda and I slept until late afternoon. My back is better, but I’m still hobbling around like an old man.
We have no car until Monday when we’ll get a rental and we’ve contacted the other guy’s insurance company to get the ball rolling on getting reimbursement for the Buick.
I keep flashing back to the moment we got hit — I never saw the guy coming up behind us; the roads were basically empty. And then there was noise, and gravity forces, and my view was immediately of the ceiling in the car (from my head snapping back). It was probably the weirdest (and scariest) feeling I’ve ever had.
And now I’m feeling really paranoid about getting in another car. One reason I don’t like flying is that I don’t have any control over it. With driving you’re in control.
Until suddenly you’re not.