This is a post about our family’s recent car accident. It does not contain any images of the damaged car itself, and only one wound photo, close to the end, which is not particularly gross.
Most of you know this by now, but my family was in a car accident coming home from a show about a week and a half ago. Folks have been asking how we are doing, and I wanted to share in one place to make it easy to share.
The short answer is, other than the fact that our new-to-us (and, generally, pretty new—I bought a new-ish car in the hopes that I could avoid car shopping for a decade or more!) Camry is destroyed, we’re doing really well.
We were coming home from seeing Elf: The Musical at the Wayne. It was a completely delightful production, and we were all in a great mood. I was supposed to be leaving super early the next morning for a work trip to New York, during which I was planning to see four shows in four days (and also do my day job). The car was already packed.
And then somebody ran a stop sign, and although I tried to stop the car and laid on the horn, it wasn’t enough. This big SUV slammed right through the front end of our car. The airbags went off. It was confusing. There was smoke (?) everywhere (this was related to the airbags, the car was not on fire). JC said later that his ears were ringing from the sound of the airbags deploying, or maybe from the impact itself.
My car has a feature I didn’t know about, where it calls Toyota customer support (?) when it detects an impact, and so in this moment when my brain was trying to sort out what had just happened and make sure everyone was safe, I heard a woman’s voice talking to me and asking if we needed emergency services. Honestly, this was the most bewildering part of the experience; at first I thought my podcast had started? or … I accidentally answered the phone? JC got the kids out of the car and to the side of the road, and I told the lady that yes, we needed police at minimum, and also that my car was in the middle of the road so I needed to get out of it, because I didn’t feel safe there. I thought that the call was connected to my phone, so it would come with me…but it was the car itself that was calling. I realize this is probably very normal to everyone, but I still can barely wrap my mind around it. 20 minutes later, when an emergency worker went to turn the car off (I thought I had done this, but I guess not?) this poor person from Toyota was still asking if there was anybody in the car. I hope I didn’t worry her too much.
JC went to talk to the other driver, while I stayed with the kids. The driver was an older man, in his 70s. He immediately admitted fault. Alcohol was not a factor, although I never got another explanation, as it was in a spot with massive visibility. I think maybe he just didn’t realize there was a stop sign there.
After that, everything happened both fast and slow. The fire department sent a ladder truck to block the road. An ambulance came, and the EMTs looked us over, but nobody (not us or the other car) was hospital-level injured. I had a bad bruise on my hand from where the steering wheel opened up to let the airbag out, and a really bad one on my leg from the steering column. The kids were scared, but uninjured. JC had a lot of soreness the next day, but nothing apparent that night. The EMTs gave me an ice pack for my hand. The police took a statement and gave me an incident report number. A tow truck took the car. And… that was it.
I was worried that the kids would be traumatized by all this. They certainly were upset and teary and freaked out the next day. The first thing Silas said to me the next morning was, “Were we in a car wreck last night, or did I just dream it?” Silas, in particular, is prone to anxiety, so I was watching him closely to see what would happen.
And… within a couple days, he was fine. We all were.
I think it’s because, even though the collision was definitely the scariest second of my kids’ lives (and one of the scariest of mine), everything before and after it showed how much love and support there is in the world. We had just come from a show that was a confection of Christmas cheer, created by artists we love and admire. The lady from Toyota stayed on the line until she was sure we were safe. A teenage boy whose house was right next to the crash site came out and stood with us in the dark until the emergency workers came. He even put his coat around Silas’ shivering legs (because middle schoolers can’t stand being seen in public wearing long pants, apparently…). Every passing driver stopped, leaned out the window, and asked if we needed help. The emergency workers and volunteers were all extremely kind and patient with us. Our friend Corey came and kept the kids in her warm car while we dealt with the details, and then drove us all the way home.
In the days since the crash, countless people have reached out to offer advice and kind words, and to see how we’re doing. We got along okay with one car until the rental came through, but we had offers of a couple different vehicles to borrow if we needed them. The people I’ve talked to at my insurance company have been patient and kind. I was dreading dealing with the rental car because the people at the rental desk are so often pushy and condescending, but they were extremely friendly.
I’m not happy about having to deal with car shopping and insurance and all of that. But we’re very lucky that this is a hassle and not anything more.
I have this one wound on my hand. Maybe it’s a burn? It’s really hard to tell (I took this picture a couple days after the crash, it’s much better now). Silas pointed out, correctly, that it’s a piece of the Toyota logo. But to me, it looks like a hedgehog.
Sometimes, the world feels like a scary and uncaring place. And sometimes, an instant we would rather hadn’t happened becomes an opportunity to see how we are all a hedge of protection for each other.