This One Time…I got into a car crash

TRIGGER WARNING: The content you are about to read contains disturbing content and may trigger an anxiety response, especially in those who have a history with car wrecks.


Photo by Eli Hausman

Screeeech! Boom! Schwoooop. The airbags deploy and hit me in my face and forearms. The windshield cracks like water freezing into ice. I smell the most rancid thing that I have ever smelled. I jump out of the car while it is still geared in “drive.” Trapped in the seatbelt, I scream for help. The smell of the airbags makes me think that the car is going to explode at any moment. I try to escape. The windows are rolled down. The door is open. Why isn’t anyone helping me? Dragged by the car — my car. Dragged along the asphalt by my precious “Viva the Volvo.” I continue to scream against the sound of the light surrounding traffic. “Somebody please HELP ME. HELP. I NEED HELP!”

I remember seeing the face of a woman in her car coming from the opposite direction of traffic, she rolled her window down and her face dropped at the sight of me trying to escape the moving car. But she didn’t stop to help, she just watched in disbelief. I screamed for what seemed like hours, but finally, another woman moved her car to a median strip and helped me. She had her young daughter in the back seat, but it did not stop her from getting out to help and console me. The nice lady called my family and told them what happened.

What I remember most is the cool wind of the evening and how the driver of the Nissan Sentra asked: Are you okay? I was infuriated that in the midst of all I’d just gone through, all the man had to say was “Are you okay?” Needless to say, I was traumatized from the entire wreck.

The wreck occurred when I was heading north on a road on my way to pick up some food. I approached an intersection where I had a green light. I was driving as normal, listening to “What Happened to Perfect” by the Danish band, Lukas Graham. Because I had a green light, I continued on my route when a black Nissan Sentra turned left at the intersection, entering my path of travel. It was so sudden that I tried to brake but I still struck the vehicle ahead. According to the police reports, the man said that he had a flashing yellow light, also known as a proceed with caution light, and I came “out of nowhere.” Both of our insurance agencies found him to be at fault since I had the right of way: a green light.

The Fire Department was first to arrive at the scene. They checked my car because they were in fear it would catch on fire. Then they checked my injuries since the EMTs had not yet gotten to the scene. At this point, I was still in hysterics. I am unsure if it was because of the physical or emotional pain, probably both. I told the firemen that my arm was burning and my knee was in extreme pain. They began to scold me (and rightfully so) because I tried to take off my pullover and fleece. “DO NOT TAKE IT OFF. KEEP ON YOUR JACKETS-” They were too late and too unconvincing. I took off the two layers to reveal burns from the airbag. My skin had dark spots and it was broken, some of it came off in one swift motion with my clothing layers. At the time, I hadn’t known that they were afraid that my skin would come off because of the impact of the airbag. While I felt naive, they should have told me about the possibility of my skin coming off, in case of something more serious. Soon after, the EMTs arrived and checked me out to ensure that I didn’t have internal bleeding. It was horrible and terrifying but everyone was extremely helpful.

Photo by Anaya Truss-Williams
Pictured is my pullover after being burned from impact of the air bags.

My family had still not arrived yet but not too long after, I did have someone close to me by my side. I was surprised to see the back door of the Ambulance open to reveal one of my close friends, Logan, and her dad. I was such disbelief that I thought that I imagined them. She told me that they were on their way to dinner when she saw my wrecked car.

Photo by Anaya Truss-Williams
Viva the Volvo (left) is in a wrecker yard after being towed from scene.

Side Note: You may have asked yourself how she knew that it was my car. After all, if a company makes one car, they are making at least a thousand more. Viva was very distinct, she had three stickers on her rear bumper and an Alabama Crimson Tide flag flying from the right rear window. One bumper sticker said “Vote like your rights depend on it,” another said “Don’t boo…vote -President Barack Obama,” and the final sticker said: I love hiking. – Friends of the South Mountains State Park.

Logan and her family kept me company until my sister arrived and helped me clean out my car at the scene.

One thing that stuck with me outside of Logan and her family’s kindness and patience was her grandmother’s wise words:

A car is replaceable. But you aren’t.

She instilled in me the power to persevere and to appreciate that I made it out of the wreck alive.

At the emergency room, I was diagnosed with having a knee contusion, which is the medical term for a bone bruise. But the bone isn’t what pained me the most, it was the deep tissue gash that was on my knee. I could handle the contusion but whenever my right knee moved, the gash was irritated and my wound would open more.

Ever since the collision, I have suffered from nightmares in which I would be in car crashes, some similar to the one I was involved in. I have been working with a therapist to desensitize myself to car wrecks. I am proud to say that after a month and a half, I am now able to drive alone, ride in the passenger seat of vehicles and travel with non-nuclear family members without having a panic attack or crying.

While reading, you may have noticed that I did not use the term “car accident” to discuss this matter. This is because reckless driving is not an accident, it requires intent and purpose. That is why I urge all young drivers to think first before going above the speed limit, hopping lanes, and trying to pass other cars. One should be careful even when driving in mundane 6 P.M. traffic. A collision could happen at an instance, and sometimes it may be too late to avoid. Please drive carefully. When late to something, do not rush. It is better to arrive late than to not arrive at all. I hope that parents lead by example and teach their children safe driving.