October 22, 2003

Crumpled Mess

At 10:25 AM on Monday morning, two cars were idling at the intersection between Faunce Corner Road and Rte.6 in North Dartmouth, next to the Harbor Mall. They were waiting for the lights to change just as I do nearly every morning. Suddenly, a car came down Faunce Corner road traveling south and rammed into both of them, pushing them out into the intersection. The collision happened with enough force to turn the three cars into scrap. It nearly did likewise to the body of the driver of the moving car. She was removed from the wreck, blood issuing from a number of parts of her body, according to reports.

A few minutes later, I passed by and was detoured.

I don't know what sort of car that purple one is, but when I saw it I could not imagine what had happened to it. I saw all three cars, of course and knew that something out of the ordinary had happened to cause a three-car collision there. And, indeed, it is unclear what happened to Maria Machado, the driver who rammed them, and why the collision occurred. I passed within a few feet, but failed to properly rubber-neck. And stopping to take pictures didn't seem right.

As of now, Ms. Machado is listed in critical condition. A woman who was driving one of the other cars has died after having been reported as only sustaining minor injuries. A man who was driving the other car still appears to be OK. I don't know if Ms. Machado herself has regained consciousness since the accident.

Two people were just waiting for the light and one of them is now dead. I wonder if she knew what happened to her? How long before she realized she'd been in an accident. One moment she is just sitting there. The next moment she's... where? Sitting in the intersection? In the ambulance? The hospital?

It could have been anyone. It certainly could have been me. And then I wouldn't be going to pick up milk to put in the fridge so that the kids can have their cereal tomorrow morning. I wouldn't be going to play cards tonight. I wouldn't be compiling a new version of MathWorlds for work. I wouldn't be looking forward to seeing the Return of the King, or Matrix Revolutions, or Indiana Jones on DVD, or reading the end of Harry Potter to the kids, or finishing working on the house with my wife...

Who knows?

Posted by James at October 22, 2003 6:34 PM
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I think about that all the time since I had my accident. Now you know why I am such a basket case about driving.

I thought it was interesting that they (whoever wrote the article, or whoever they were quoting) found it noteworthy that one of the cars spun around 180 degrees. Mine did too and my accident wasn't as bad as theirs.

Posted by: julie at October 23, 2003 1:27 PM

My big accident back in '96 fortunately didn't result in any serious injuries to anyone else, and though my back has never been the same, it could have been much worse. For the record, my car was struck from the side, caving the passenger door in 22 inches, spun off the road in what felt like a 450 degree clockwise turn (but may have been 90) and then, the force delivered by the other vehicle not yet spent, was thrust backward into a tree. I was *very* lucky to not have had more serious injuries other than a lot of bruises, aches, and one cut.

One of the scariest and most awful nights of my life... especially when I heard the voices of the children in the other car... crying.

For *years* afterward, I was unable to relax as the passenger in any car. My wife often dozes when I am driving. For years I could not do the same when she was driving, because the motion of the car would induce a nightmare of being in that accident all over again.

Posted by: Chuck S. at October 23, 2003 5:28 PM

Being a passenger doesn't bother me too much, because I find it much easier to ignore what's going on on the road! I try to drive carefully - I know I'm not perfect, but I have even less faith that all the other drivers will be careful about my safety.

Posted by: julie at October 23, 2003 7:38 PM

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