As many of you may have noticed, I have been absent from my duties as a columnist in recent months. It has been thanks to a hiatal hernia that took close to three months and countless tests to diagnose. Well, I am happy to say I’ve been medically cleared to return to work, and was just waiting for the right topic to return with. I’m not going to lie. It’s been hard coming up with just the right one. But then the events of October 16, 2012 happened. What follows is a first-hand account of a motor vehicle accident that took place at the Applebee’s in Geneseo from someone who survived it: me.
That evening started with me meeting with a close friend, Sarah Wesley, someone I consider to be like a sister, after months of trying to connect but always missing each other. It started like many normal nights, but this one would turn out to be far from normal. Sarah picked me up at my apartment and we went to Applebee’s. Right before we pulled in it hit me that I had left my handicap parking pass in my house.
Sarah says, “No big deal, I’ll pull up to the front and let you out and then park.”
That is when all hell broke loose. Sarah was outside the car going to retrieve my crutches and I was busy making sure I was properly positioned to get out of the car when she returned, but before that could happen I accidentally bumped the emergency brake on her car, which happens to be a stick shift. Before I knew it I heard Sarah screaming, “Get out of the car! Get out of the car!”
At first I was preoccupied by the conversation we had been having, and when I heard her say that I thought, Why is she yelling at me? and I realized that the car was moving. Now, I never believed it until last night… but you know how they say that when you’re in life or death scenario things start to happen in slow motion? Once I realized the car was moving I heard people talking, but the sound was muffled, almost as if it was just echoes. Really, the only thing that I could make out was Sarah saying “Water… water… water… get out now!”
I finally noticed that the car was rolling towards the retention pond at the other edge of the parking lot. At then had to decide whether to dive out of the car head first or go middle school style and stop drop and roll. I chose the latter. I rolled, and continued rolling until I myself hit the water. Sarah and other bystanders pulled me to safety. They looked me over, and noticed a small but noticeable scrape, or perhaps a gash, on my head – apparently from hitting the car door on my exit.
That is my take on the accident. Here is Sarah, writing from her point of view: “All’s well that ends well… it was one of the more terrifying experiences of my life, but knowing that you (Scotty) are okay is all that matters.”
After some rejoicing at my apparent safety Sarah insisted, over my protests, that I go to the hospital and get checked out. That that was the furthest thing from my mind. My adrenaline was pumping and I was more concerned about Sarah’s loss of her brand-new car, and the fact that she seemed to be even more shaken up than I was — despite not even being in the car when it happened.
Now, I have convinced anyone who knows me that like any red-blooded Livingston County male I have a high threshold for pain, and because of that I will not freely admit when I’m actually in pain. Unfortunately, Sarah knows that about me. So after putting up vigorous resistance about the hospital, I made the one mistake I shouldn’t have. I look Sarah in the eyes. And between the subtle tears forming in the corner of her eyes and the cracking of her voice, I immediately lost all willingness to argue, because anyone who knows me knows I can deal with physical pain easier than I can deal with seeing someone I love in fear or pain. I will crumble at the sight of that.
So off we went to the hospital. When we arrived I had all my clothes cut off by the EMTs due to the possibility of hypothermia, had x-rays on both my chest to make sure I had not taken in water and my elbow due to the fact that it had stiffened up on me. I was eventually given a clean bill of health, with the exception of some minor bumps and bruises, and ordered to have a follow-up visit with my physician in a few days. But there was still one thing left to do. You see, because I was in the emergency section of the hospital, I had not heard or seen Sarah since I arrived. So I gave all kinds of back talk to the doctors, and to my family who had arrived by then. I said “I’m not leaving until I see that Sarah knows I’m OK.” At that moment she just happened to pop up from somewhere. We embraced, and told each other we loved each other, and that of course we would reschedule our dinner together.
You would think after all that I would be afraid or upset, but the truth be told, I’m am the farthest thing from it. The experience has made me thankful for all that I am blessed with. You may ask, What helped you get through it? How did you not freeze in panic, and how were you able to react so quickly? Well, that’s simple. Before exiting car I said a quick – very quick – prayer, and asked God to protect me, and most importantly, not to put Sarah or anyone else through the pain or grief.
It was a night I will never forget – and somehow it has earned me the nickname of 007 among some friends due to my action-hero-style stunt. Lastly, if you’ll permit me, I would like to say one thing that I wasn’t sure I got to say to Sarah or any of my other family and friends enough that night. I love you all, and thank you for being in my life.