Thoughts about the large mass of ambulances and firetrucks I passed moments earlier floated through my mind as the line of stand still traffic on the other side of the highway seemed to never end. I prayed everybody was okay especially due to the stormy weather and road conditions. Music sang through the speakers of my car but it quietly played to the background of my thoughts. I switched from the left lane to the center to avoid the water puddling along the edges of the concrete barrier. I mentally noted the semi-trucks to the right of me because a semi-truck is a semi-truck. I gave the highway my undivided attention as the mist sprayed from the vehicles ahead and the rain drops fell one after another.
My heart sunk to my feet as I felt the sudden jerk. I was hydroplaning to the point of no return. I struggled to hold the steering wheel steady while the semi-truck drove parallel to me. The gusts of wind trapped between my car and the semi only grew more powerful. I was surrounded by vehicles, but the idea of colliding with an 80,000-pound truck driving 60-70 mph in heavy rain was nothing short of terrifying. The calmest fear I have ever experienced overwhelmed my body as I felt my car bouncing back and forth from the driver’s side tires to the passenger’s tires. My car went from driving perfectly safely to a bull in a china closet within seconds.
I wondered if the driver of the semi knew I was less than five feet away from him, losing all control of my vehicle. It was as if my steering wheel had been hi-jacked. I clinched on to the wheel with both hands for dear life, quite literally, but it was of no use. I could not begin to imagine how this was going to end but once the semi cleared past me, it sent my car spinning down the highway.
I found myself in the same far left lane I made a point to avoid minutes earlier but this time, my car was facing the oncoming traffic, sliding backwards, bouncing along the concrete barrier. I unknowingly repositioned my hands at some point and I was now gently holding on to the bottom of the steering wheel with my left hand and braced myself with my right hand on the gear shift. Time slowed down completely. All I heard was the sound of my voice repeating itself, “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.”
I was sick to my stomach, filled with the anticipation of an inevitable disaster. I waited for the moment my car would start flipping and finally come to a stop. I imagined spinning out of control again and colliding with other drivers. I held my breath and mentally prepared to most likely be crushed in any kind of way.
The seconds felt like minutes.
My car suddenly went flying backwards across three lanes of traffic and down the into the bottom of ditch where I was finally stopped by the back side of a guard rail to the feeder road.
It was over. I looked up and noticed the line of cars that were pulled over with their emergency lights flashing and a pick-up truck in the ditch. They were all out of their cars frantically coming towards me, waving their hands, I’m sure searching for a signal that I was okay. I knew I should communicate to them that I was fine but I was frozen in disbelief as I tried to comprehend what just happened.
Did I cause an accident behind me that I was not yet aware of? Did I cause the truck to drive into the ditch? How bad was it? Was everybody okay?
I finally got out of my car to face reality. I stepped into the squishy, mud filled ditch in my sandals as the rain continued to fall. Everybody yelled from the top of the road asking if I was okay as they were on the phone with 911 dispatchers. I stood there and simply nodded yes, still in shock.
The man from the truck in the ditch made his way towards me and asked how I was doing. He simply told me he had never seen anything like it and I was extremely blessed. I learned he was driving behind me so he had front row seats to the horror show. He purposely drove his truck into the ditch in hopes to get onto the feeder road to check on me but he ended up getting stuck in the mud. (Another truck stopped to help and was able to help pull him out.)
Miraculously, no other vehicles were involved and I walked away without a scratch.
Person after person stopped to make sure everything was okay as I waited for the sirens to show up. I was so out of it, I hardly even thought to call a tow truck until a passerby asked if I needed them to call one for me. The first company had no more tow trucks available due to the major accident I passed minutes before my own. I later learned the stand still traffic on the opposite side of the highway was caused by a ten car pile-up. TEN. CARS.
The reality is, me hydroplaning could have easily caused another ten car pile-up and ruined nine other peoples’ day as well.
But the truth is, I did not realize I never took my foot off the gas until I was stuck in the ditch. I was scared to admit it so I kept it to myself until now but the more I think about it, the more I believe it protected me and everybody else around me that afternoon.
I cannot explain how every vehicle around me managed to steer clear of my maniac car flying all over the place like a broken game of Frogger. All I know is that I was spiritually guided every step of the way during the most precious moments of my life. I had absolutely zero awareness or control of my body. Had I physically panicked as much as I mentally panicked, I would have slammed my breaks out of fear to simply come to the stop I so desperately wanted, without thinking about how many vehicles and semi-trucks were surrounding me on a slippery highway.
I am thankful I was nowhere near a drop off because there are many along this particular highway. I am thankful whatever force of nature sent me into the ditch when it did because if the timing was any different, I would have gone right past the guard rail, across the feeder road, and stopped by trees if not another vehicle. I am thankful I was able to make it home and get on a flight a few hours later to enjoy my family vacation that could have easily been devastated. I am so beyond thankful to be able to wake up every morning and thank God that I am alive and healthy.
In less than a weeks’ time, I lost my phone and had it returned to me a few days later, I slammed the nail of my middle finger in a car door but avoided crushing my whole hand, and for the grand finale, I dramatically hydroplaned up and down, side to side on a busy highway without involving any other vehicles.
(Side note: They say everything comes in threes so I should be good for a while.)
My family and I joke that I have bad luck and trouble always seems to find me, but as much as I have endured at my age, it is now clear to me that I am the lucky one.
I am a generally happy person, but I have had days so dark I wished the worst. Five days before this incident, I made a vow to end this never-ending cycle of anxiety/depression for the sake of myself and my loved ones. Although I was making a point to consistently pray and remain positive during those five days, I needed a serious wake up call. I believe I was put in these situations all at once for a reason. Each situation showed me something different, but overall, I was being taught to simply be grateful.
I was literally shown how bad my accident could have been on the opposite side of the highway before I even knew what was going to happen to me a few minutes later. I cannot make this up. (Google: “Corsicana Texas Ten Car Pile Up”) The lessons I have been taught could not have been made any clearer.
I damn near accepted my story could have ended on I-45 South in the middle of nowhere Corsicana, Texas and I had not even spoken to my family that day. Tears fill my eyes every time I think about it long enough.
Life is so precious. I pray that you are never put in a position to be forced to realize how blessed you are.