Tuesday, January 24, 2012
OUT OF CONTROL ICY STREETS
Frozen, Jamestown, NC
I channel surfed to The Weather Channel this morning (OH, REALLY?) and was watching with my fingernails embedded in my favorite armchair as a car helplessly slid down a residential street and into the blade of a stopped snow truck. In this day of ubiquitous video cameras, there’s not much of interest that doesn’t go unrecorded these days. Apparently, some guy was literally standing on his porch about midway down the icy street and filming the action as it was passing in slow motion in front of his home. I can only guess that the folks who were driving too fast for the icy conditions were also watching their lives flash by in fast forward as they realized their morning was not going to end well!
It’s hard to say if these drivers were local or not. But you would think that someone local would know that a street with that long incline was treacherous in the freezing rain and snow. Or perhaps the driver was a young local that had only recently begun to drive on their own and didn’t yet have enough experience. The incident reminded me of a time in Nashville, Tennessee when both situations were literally on a collision course as fate and the weather would have it. I was on another business trip away from home in a relatively foreign city with three other road warriors. We had spent the night in a local motel and really didn’t know very much about the local environment. As we emerged from the motel at daylight, we noticed a light freezing rain in the air. The four of us walked to our rental car and I got in the right rear seat and quickly shut the door to keep out the elements.
Our driver proceeded to immediately turn left out of the motel parking lot and onto an access road that connected to a major four lane artery. However, since we had arrived late that night from the other direction, none of us realized that our path to the left was all downhill—and that road was now coated with a very deadly “black ice”. We immediately realized that the vehicle was skating out of control and our driver was pumping the brakes and shifting the transmission into every gear with absolutely no effect. Then we all looked ahead to the busy four lane intersection we were descending into as our stop light turned red and traffic filled the path ahead. We really had no choice but to “brace for impact”. And just as we approached the intersection, the driver’s side of the car slammed into a snow covered concrete median on our left. Once the snow had literally settled, we all gave a collective sigh of relief as we realized that we had survived a serious accident. That was the moment I placed my hand on the door handle so that I could exit the damaged vehicle. I had just cracked the door open and began to shift so that I could place my right leg outside when the door was loudly slammed shut! I didn’t understand what had just happened, but we had been broadsided by another out of control car driven by a young man traveling behind us. Needless to say, my leg would have been severed if he had arrived only a few seconds later. The rental car was totaled, but by the grace of God, the timing spared a certain life changing tragedy for which I’ll always be thankful.