Thursday, December 2, 2010

Alicia's Unfortunate Encounter

Short Version
Alicia was in an auto accident. She's banged up and bruised. She has some possibly broken bones in her wrist and ankle, maybe a chipped tooth. She's going to be visiting the doctors and her dentist over the next few days.

Long Version
At the end of my run yesterday, I got a call from Alicia. She was crying and hysterical - understandably so.  The phone connection was bad and I was breathing harder from the run, so I couldn't entirely make out what she was saying. But I got the gist of it: Accident. Bleeding. Car totaled. Help.

I struggled to stay calm and to calm her down enough to get info on how she was, where she was, whether medical help was there. I told her that I was coming to get her.

Then it struck me. I had no car. When we're up in San Rafael, we rarely bring both cars. Alicia had the only car. This was an unnerving realization.

Stop. Think. I don't know anyone up here whose car I could borrow. Think... Taxi. I need a taxi.

I told Alicia that I was calling a taxi and would get there asap.

I ran back to the house to call a taxi. "Geez, " I realized, "I don't even know the name or number of any taxi companies up here." So I hit the laptop and start googling.  I call the taxi. While I wait for the taxi, I google Avis. Crud, they close in a little over a half hour.

I call Alicia back to see how she's doing. She's in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, so I tell her I'll meet her there.

When I get there, she's in a chair in the hallway of the ER. They've got her blanketed and icing her wrist. I was very relieved to see her.

I knew that she hadn't completely lost her sense of humor or appetite when she said to swing by Arizmendi and pick up a potato pizza. She had been talking about the potato pizza since the day before.

While on my errand they X-rayed her wrist. When I returned, we sat around for a while awaiting the results. The good news was the the X-rays didn't show any signs of any obviously broken bones in her wrist or hand. The nurse said that there still remained a possibility that a particular bone could be broken, but that it wouldn't show up on the X-rays. We'd just have to make another visit to the doctor in a week for a follow up. I won't pretend to understand why the X-ray wouldn't show it.

While we were sitting around in the ER, I sent out a text to family and friends. The softie part of me thought it was touching how quickly the responses started arriving. The geeky part of me thought it was really freakin' cool to live in a world of instantaneous communications.

So much for my "Machete don't text" bravado.

They splinted her wrist, put her arm in a sling, and sent us on our way.

The rest of the night was spent talking about what had happened, sending/receiving more texts, cleaning her up, and struggling to get her to go to bed.

So what happened? Many of you have asked. Here's my understanding of what happened.

Alicia was shopping at Corte Madera mall (labeled The Village of Corte Madera in the lower right corner of this map).

She headed north on Redwood Highway (i.e. the frontage road, not highway 101).

She intended to get onto 101 at the Lucky Drive onramp. Ironic, huh?

Traffic is a little heavy for the frontage road. The speed limit is 30MPH, but they're moving 20 - 25 MPH.

As she approaches the Cost Plus, she sees an older man in a white SUV. He's in the left turn lane of the Cost Plus parking lot. He intends to head south on the frontage road.

Their eyes meet...

And then he guns it.

Alicia's thinking, "There's no way you're going to..."


I've crudely drawn Alicia's intended path (red) and the guy's intended path (blue) in the map to the left. If you look closely, you'll notice that their two paths cross. Hence the "BAM!".

He smashes into the front right portion of Juan (our name for the Volvo).

The impact pushes Juan into the southbound lane of the frontage road.

Juan ends up pointing NNW.

But wait, the old guy's not done yet.

From what I surmise, he keeps his foot planted on the accelerator. Juan and the SUV end up side by side pointing the same direction. He's still accelerating, so instead of merely destroying Juan by crushing the right headlight, the right fender, the hood, and the engine itself, he drives forward with the cars side by side and ruins the entire passenger side of the car from the rear brake light to the headlight.

What's that you say? A picture is worth a thousand words?

As you can see, the impact has caused the tire to burst, the hood to crumble, and a chunk of the car to fold in on itself.

The shattered windshield was bowed outward, presumably the result of the passenger side airbag deploying.

My photos don't do justice to his handy work. Those aren't white racing stripes going from the rear to the front of Juan. Those are the gouges he left as he accelerated forwards.

Thankfully the airbags did what they were designed to do.

Guess I won't need to change the wiper blades this winter after all.

So what kind of vehicle can go from a dead stop and cause such carnage within a dozen or so feet?

Meet the '91 Land Rover Range Rover.

In defense of the Range Rover, it fared quite well. About all you could see was the bent in bumper thingy on the front, a slightly askew headlight, a tweaked side panel up front, and a tweaked side panel in the very back (remember those fabulous "racing stripes"?).

The Range Rover did what it was designed to do. It was a tank.

I'm not so sure just anyone should own a tank, however.

Some good samaritan jogger immediately stepped in to help when the accident occurred. He got Alicia out of the car which at the time was filled with smoke (apparently from the air bags deploying).

There was an ambulance and a tow truck in the parking lot of the Cost Plus. They were on the scene immediately.

Within a few minutes the CHP was there.

All things considered, we're fortunate that the scene unfolded as it did. I'm grateful that there was immediate medical assistance.

I'm also grateful that we weren't both in the car. Before you think me a jerk, consider my reasoning. When we're in the car together, I almost always drive. So Alicia would have been riding shotgun. Given the physics unleashed by the impact, I think it's a fairly safe assumption that her head would have hit the passenger window. I shudder to think how that could have turned out.

We didn't have a clue yesterday about who the older man was. Alicia was rushed to the hospital before the guy identified himself. For all we knew, it could have been a hit and run.

We managed to piece together his identity, his license plate, his insurance company, etc. with a few pointed questions at the tow yard. Sounds like he was okay.

Thankfully there were no fatalities and the injuries are painful but blessedly minor. And the car, it's just a car.

Juan... May he rest in pieces.

Joking aside, I'm so relieved Alicia survived.

1 comment:

  1. So thankful that Alicia's injuries don't look to be more serious. Find it completely within character that she had her "foodie" moment :) Great "Extended Edition" rundown on what happened - complete with diagrams too!! Jordan was t-boned in his car in January by a Rover, so I've seen what they can do - and he was in a big Dodge Ram V8!