Last Sunday, Kyle and I were headed out for church at about 9:30. The service starts at 10am, so we usually try to leave our house a half-hour early, which allows plenty of time for travel, parking, and having a chance to scan through the bulletin for interesting news before the worship service begins. We were on I-5 headed southbound and approaching the 80th/85th St. exit, when all of the sudden, the silver caravan in the lane to the right of us began to swerve into our lane.
It was one of those moments that as the passenger I was thinking I should suggest that Kyle blown the horn to alert the other driver of our presence. I guess I was thinking that the driver of the van was simply trying to do a lane change, but had forgotten to make that oh-so-important head check.
However, before even finishing the thought completely, I realized that there had been no time to honk. Kyle was swift to react, and quickly maneuvered over to the left to avoid being hit. Sounds great right? Well…maneuvering slightly to the left at a freeway pace could have quickly taken us into the concrete barrier separating us from the express lanes. So, at this point, Kyle attempted to straighten us out a bit. The problem with this correction was that the silver caravan was at this point, already in the lane we had previously been inhabiting. The right corner of our bumper was tapped by the side of the van, which created a classic pit maneuver. So…there we were…..spinning on the freeway.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Garden State, you’ll remember that Zach Braff’s character was a passenger on a plane that was going down in a crash. Everyone around him was freaking out, babies were screaming, adults were crying and yelling. Yet…there he remained, completely calm as if nothing was happening.
Well, that’s the only way I can describe what it felt like to be inside the revolving car. Either that, or it was like one of those amusement park rides where you’re inside a spinning pod. I could tell the other cars were whirring past us on the freeway. But there we were…sort of spinning in place. I know I reached out and patted Kyle’s knee and assured him, “It’s okay, babe. It’s okay. You’re doing a good job.” But, he was a bit more shaken up than me at the time. I think there may have been a few explitives or at least some worried sounds coming out of his mouth.
We eventually came to a stand still. It seemed like maybe the car wasn’t going to start, but later Kyle realized that he had simply forgotten to put the clutch in. We managed to get off to the side of the freeway. The van stopped to, but they were able to get over to the right shoulder. We were 4 lanes over on the left side. We got our 4-ways on and called 911 and a state patrol guy, Nate, came to our aide. The funny part was, he walked up to the window and his first question was whether we were the car that had been in an accident. He took a quick look around the car and finally did see some evidence of the damage, but all in all, it didn’t look too bad.
To make an even longer story a bit shorter, the everyone was okay. Just a bit shaken up. It must have taken Kyle about 30 minutes before he could even take a whole breath. It was clearly the other car’s fault, but she claimed there had been another car that quickly changed lanes into hers, causing her to move over to the left without looking. So…in essence, the same thing may have happened to her. It’s just that there happened to a car in the lane she was trying to get into. (Us.) We believe that story even though we didn’t see the car she was describing. It just wouldn’t have made any sense for her to be making such a swift lane change without signaling.
We think this all happened in the blink of an eye…but if you’ve ever been in accident, you might be able to relate to that hazy fog of a memory of what happened. In fact, as we were reflecting on what had happened later that day, Kyle looked at me and said, “While we were spinning, did you tell me it was going to be okay??” 🙂 I do think this was one of those instances that I had a few more wits about me than Kyle in the moment, and recovered a bit more quickly.
We never made it to church. We were super close to Greenlake, so we got out and parked the car to take a look at some of the damage ourselves and then ended up walking the whole lake. That definitely helped to shake out some of that anxiety.
The car is being repaired, although we had hoped for it to be totaled. But, like the officer said, it was hard to tell we had even been in an accident. You can see for yourself with these photos: