A few days after Christmas, we were driving to meet up with some friends. The highway looked nice and dry, until we got to one section, just about to go over a bridge, and Danny said “is the ground wet?”
It was black ice.
Just as he finished saying those words, words that played over and over in mind for the next few weeks, we started fishtailing. I had been driving about 60 miles per hour. I could not get control over the car, and we started spinning. We were in the left lane, so were spinning in the left lane and shoulder. There was traffic behind us. I remember seeing lots of bright headlights, in particular, the lights of a semi-truck. In the moment, I honestly believed those lights would be the last things Danny, M, and myself would ever see.
Eventually we crashed into the concrete median with the front driver’s side of the car. That spun us around, and the back crashed into the barrier. Max was in his car seat in the back, on the side that the car hit. The air bags went off at some point while we were spinning, before we stopped.
Danny was shouting. His shouting scared me. Everything was spinning and I could not tell if he was hurt. I wanted him to stop shouting so I could hear whether Max was crying. All I wanted was some assurance that Max was alive. If he was alive, I did not want him to be scared because we were screaming.
Even though everything was spinning and happening so fast, it was really in slow motion. I was praying, out loud, for the car to stop. It felt like it would never stop. “Heavenly Father, make the car stop. Save us. Make the car stop.” Over and over and over.
After the third hit of the concrete median, the car finally stopped. Danny was able to quickly get his door open and went straight to the back of the car to check Max. He said that was one of the scariest moments of his life, hurrying to the back of the car, not knowing what he would see. Not knowing if Max was alive, not knowing whether there would be blood, not knowing whether he was hurt.
Danny was shouting at me as he was taking the car seat out of the car. I was paralyzed, and just sat there, very still. I could not move. I eventually realized that Danny was yelling at me to get out of the car because we were hanging into traffic. I went to get the door open. It would not budge. I pushed harder and harder and violently. It was crushed shut. I wanted to see my baby. This induced a panic in me that I have never before felt. I needed to hold my baby and I needed to know that he was ok, and I was trapped. I kept yelling at Danny to tell me if Max was OK. He couldn’t hear me. He couldn’t get to me, because he would have had to go out into the traffic on the highway. I shouted at him to take Max onto the shoulder, as far away from the car and from traffic as possible.
I do not remember how I found my phone, but I did. I called 9-1-1. I explained what happened, how I didn’t know whether my son was alive, and how my door was jammed stuck. I was alone and trapped the car on the freeway, watching the headlights of oncoming traffic as I spoke to the dispatcher.
I watched from a distance as Danny pulled M out of his car seat, holding him and wrapping him up in his blanket. I could see his tiny body wiggling. He was alive.
Nothing else mattered.
Around this time, a car pulled over onto the shoulder, where Danny was holding M. She jumped out of her car and ran over to Danny and M. I watched as Danny put M in his car seat and into her car. She had apparently offered to let M stay in her car, where it was warm. Danny put him in her car and started walking towards me and the car.
I started SCREAMING for him to not leave M. It was uncultivated, helpless, screaming. I was trapped in the car, and all I could think was that I finally knew my baby was alive, only to see a stranger drive away with him in her car.
Of course, I now cannot think of this woman without shedding tears. She was an angel who helped us tremendously in a time of need. I am grateful she was brave enough to stop. I know I have seen people on the side of the road before, and I haven’t stopped to help because I didn’t know how to help them.
I heard police sirens in the distance and saw the flashing lights headed toward us. As the police and firemen pulled up to us, so did my mom and brother. I felt instant relief, and sat back.
Eventually, I was out of the car. There were several firemen. They kept asking me questions and telling me that we were all going to be ok. But all of that is really a blur. I know I signed some papers and I remember them checking out M to make sure he didn’t need to go to the hospital. They had us hurry and unload our car. We threw everything into my mom’s car and then we got in her car and she drove us away.
We got in her car and just drove away and we sat there, staring into space, in complete disbelief at what had just happened. I couldn’t stop shaking and was really cold the rest of that night. We all had some pretty serious soreness and migraines for several days (lets just say if it was us against the airbags and or the concrete barrier we hit, the airbags and barrier won. big time).
And I, being the driver, felt a lot of guilt (and still do) for nearly killing us and for killing our car. But we were ok. And so grateful for our lives, especially for M’s life. M slept clutched in our arms that night.