Kirsten N

The countdown had begun. In just three days I would compete at the Continental A League swim meet, being the only representative from Ponderosa High School who qualified for an individual race. At this point in the season, attending practice had become a religious routine, I wouldn’t miss for anything. I was determined.

The snow had begun to fall and my dad offered to drive me to swim practice seeing as though I had little to no experience with driving in Colorado’s winter weather. We drove past the usual every day landmarks on the same straight road we had taken to the pool for the last 13 years. This drive was ours and this drive was safe, we knew it inside and out, yet this time was different.

All around us cars were rushing to get to their destinations, naively ignoring the worsening conditions of the road. My dad used this time as a lecture on driving in the snow, pointing out the all wheel and four wheel drive cars that thought they were invincible against the black ice that had proven each year to show mercy to no one. I sat quiet in the passenger seat, mesmerized by the falling snow ahead of us. It was then that our simple drive took a turn for the worst.

Suddenly, my eyes had fixed on a utility van going the other way that was making its way up over the median and onto our side of the road. I warned my dad and my body quickly froze in fear. We had nowhere to go and no time to stop with the slick layer of ice underneath our tires. In front of us, the van had already begun to wreak havoc, slipping and sliding into cars in all three lanes. I couldn’t close my eyes so I just watched as my dad made the judgment call to go onto the median to avoid a head on with a car that had already been hit. We had successfully maneuvered around five cars before we had no choice but to hit the back of another stationary car to avoid going into ongoing traffic and bringing the accident to the other side of the road. I braced myself as we collided and were sent shooting back across all three lanes up onto the edge of a snowy ditch. I remember smelling smoke and the initial shock of being struck by the airbag until I was able to realize where we were and what we needed to do next.

My dad told me we needed to get out of the car in case it were to roll back down from the ditch, and when I opened my door I was horrified.

Seven cars. Seven cars including mine had been hit and thrown across all areas of the road. I was in shock and all I could hear was sirens getting closer, sirens that were coming for us.

I saw the front of my car completely detached, lying dented and mutilated in the middle of the road. The back doors of my car would not open due to where the other car had hit. My windshield was shattered and my license plate sat in the median, where it remained untouched for the next two months after the accident was cleaned up.

I remember not being able to breathe. The initial shock had passed and my body had somewhat relaxed, yet I couldn’t breathe. The firemen were everywhere, swarming around each and every car, driver, and passenger who had been caught in the chaos. One approached us and I was taken to the ambulance for an examination on my chest and breathing. My dad and I had both been struck by the airbags, and were soon taken to the hospital for further exams. The car that may have saved our lives, sat smoking on the hill.

In the Emergency Room, I was taken for X-Rays and further testing to make sure the airbag had not caused broken ribs or punctured lungs. I was terrified. All around us were victims from other car accidents, all caught in the unfortunate events of the blizzard. It was two hours of sitting and waiting before we found out that I had a hairline fracture in my sternum, caused by the sudden impact. My dad had bruised his hand and gotten whiplash. We were both sent home feeling beyond blessed that we walked away from such a horrific accident with such minor injuries.

When we were home, the accident kept replaying over and over in my head. I couldn’t believe that it had happened to us. I couldn’t believe we had all walked away.

On the other hand, the car I had worked every day the previous summer to buy was totaled. It had kept us safe, but in turn took the fall. This is where I am thankful for the assistance we got from insurance. We hadn’t had the car for more than six months and now it laid in pieces scattered all across Parker Road. The very next day after the accident, my dad went to work with our insurance agency to sort out our next steps. We couldn’t afford replace my car and the ambulance ride alone was a couple thousand dollars, not to mention the various medical tests and x-rays.  This was a lot of stress for my parents. Me having a car was a big help to my family and a sense of freedom for me.  I did not want to lose that because of a careless driver in bad weather.

As my dad worked with our insurance agent we saw a light at the end of the tunnel.This was the last thing we had expected to happen, but insurance came through for us and saved us in a time of need.  Our hospital bills were covered and I was able to replace my Honda CRV and feel safe on the roads again. Our insurance agent was very knowledgeable and able to provide us with good information and a quick resolution to the totalled car and the mounting medical bills.  Had insurance not helped us in our time of need, it would have been much harder to adjust after the initial shock of the accident had passed.

I drive past the sight of the accident six days a week, but I have healed. I feel safe despite what happened to me and I don’t have to live in fear. My new car and the help from insurance made it possible for us to cope and move on much faster, and for this I am forever grateful.

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