Last night, while driving home from San Francisco, I encountered a devastating car crash. The crash happened suddenly, about 1 or 2 cars ahead of me.
Going down highway 101, a Nissan 350z came flying from the outside lane and 4 lanes over, clipping a big rig and spun out slamming into the center-divide and crashing into a Corolla. At first I was rather hesitant, as the two cars ahead of me just drove around the wreck.
I asked myself… “What should I do?” But in the end I just pulled over, turned on the hazards and ran down to the crash while Hanh called 911. As I was running down to the crash, I had no idea what to expect, I had no idea what I would do when I got there. I’ve driven by numerous wrecks in the past but this was by far the most intense I’ve seen in a long while.
When I got down to the crash, I instantly noticed a man hanging from the driver’s side of the 350z with blood running down his arms. The whole driver side of the 350z was totaled and virtually unrecognizable. My heart suddenly sank as I knew there was nothing I could do to help the driver. I was not trained nor did I possess the necessary skills to check if someone was unconscious or not. Instead, I just did what I could. I turned to the Corolla and saw that the man was sitting in his car with his head tilted all the way back as if he was unconscious. I ran to his side and knocked on the window (not knowing what I was doing) hoping that he’d wake up. Fortunately after a few desperate knocks, he came to, but his door was jammed. i yanked and pulled until I got the door open and pulled him out of his car.
By now, 2 other individuals had pulled over to help. One was frantically on the phone with the CHP and the other man ran directly to the 350z. We both concluded that there was nothing we could do for the driver of the 350z, so we proceeded to see if we could help the passenger. To our surprise, the passenger was conscious, but definitely in a daze. We tried to talk and ask him if he was okay, but he was so distraught at the moment. We tried our best to get him out of the car safely.
The only bit of information we got from the passenger was… “we were just going home…”
After pulling out the passenger, we were again blessed. A random Silverado pulled over. I just figured he was just another citizen coming to help, but instead he said he was a paramedic. Those were the most relieving words I’ve heard thus far. I knew that at least someone was there to check to see if the driver was severely injured or not. At this point, I had only prayed that the driver was unconscious and only hoped that was the extent of the damages.
After about 15 mins, the CHP and paramedics finally showed up to the scene. By now, they had told us to step to the side as they went in to check the status of the driver. It was like a scene out of a movie, everything happened so quickly and vividly.
This morning, I came to work to find this article. Hanh had seen it on the San Jose Merc Website and forwarded it to me:
“Due to the unsafe speed, the Nissan failed to negotiate the curvature of the ramp,” the report states, and drifted into the No. 3 lane of the highway, directly in front of a 2005 Kenworth tractor-trailer. The collision forced the Nissan to then crash into a 1997 Toyota. The driver of the Nissan suffered internal injuries and was taken to Stanford Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead about 12:15 a.m. today, according to the CHP.
Unfortunately, what I had originally hoped for did not come true. I had prayed that the driver was merely unconscious from hitting the steering wheel, but now I find that the driver had died shortly after.
After reading this article, it only echoes what I felt last night. The feeling of helplessness. I was virtually meaningless in the whole ordeal, and now I think to myself, would it have been different if I had known what to do? Or how to assess the damages suffered by the driver? Would things have changed if I could have done something?
All I could do was… nothing.
Going a bit deeper… had I been 1-2 seconds ahead of where I was, I could have been the one that died.