I have never heard of someone having a road accident while moving. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen though.
The Kicker: My Dad and I were planning on arriving “home” aka Mission Control the day of the accident! Everything was going so well before the accident!
My Mum wasn’t with us. She had flown back to Mission Control earlier because she couldn’t go in the moving van with her hip and knee.
Dad flew up to Calgary to help me with the moving van and we drove back. I gave the briefest of updates in my previous post.
I will do a post about the pre-accident part of the trip. We had initially planned a four-day trip, but you’ll find out how long we were stranded after the accident in my next post.
Please note the following contains descriptions of a road accident scene that people might find disturbing. No photos though. Promise!
Day of the Accident:
This was Day 4 of our trip. We were planning to be back at Mission Control after a 12-hour drive.
We got an early start from Wendover, UT. I drove along Interstate 80 until I was ready to eat “lunch”, aka road trip snacks.
There were a few interesting things about that drive, but that’s for the next post.
After driving for 6 hours, I let Dad take over an hour before we reached Reno, NV. Dad joked with me as we were approaching Sparks, NV.
He said nobody notices Sparks, since it’s outside Reno. Kind of how nobody notices El Cerrito in the Bay Area.
We stopped for gas at the first exit for Sparks. I80 was four lanes and Dad was in the centre-left lane going at 65 mph as we approached the next on-ramp.
Something unusual caught my eye on that on-ramp. A black Chevy Silverado was going too fast and it started drifting.
Then the Chevy’s wheels went into the ditch between the on-ramp and the freeway. Dad had seen it too.
The ditch was in a triangle shape and the Chevy hit the top of the triangle and started to roll towards us!
Dad honked and started to brake. I put my right arm up, leaned towards Dad and yelled “DAD!”
The Chevy then rolled to the other side of the freeway and landed upside down on the shoulder.
Dad yelled “SHIT!!” And then I heard the truck start a steady honk.
Dad asked me if I was okay. I didn’t answer at first. The pain hadn’t kicked in yet.
Dad jumped out and yelled “FUCK YOU ASSHOLE!” at the Chevy driver. He came over to check on me.
He asked me if I was okay and I said no. I was holding my right side and in the worse shock of my life.
Dad said, “I’ll kill the bastard!” And then yelled at someone parked, “Call 911!”
For the Record:
My Dad is one of the most chilled-out guys you will ever meet. I have NEVER seen him publicly cuss someone out before!
It says a lot when he gets angry or shaken up.
Additionally, Dad is incredible in a crisis. He once saved a baby from a burning building.
In an emergency, he checks if someone has called 911. The Bystander Effect dies on contact when my Dad is around!
My Dad was on the draft for the Vietnam War. If he had gone, I have no doubt he would have been decorated for bravery.
He’s just the sort of person who goes out of his way to save someone’s life. He’s so humble too.
Dad realized quickly the van was undrivable and repeated it as often as necessary. The van was pushed into the left lane on impact.
The right wheel was taken clean off and it made the van tilt. I don’t know if the constant honk was because of that, but I heard it coming from the right side.
The right side mirror was completely smashed in. Also, the grate on the front of the van had come off, but we didn’t notice that until later.
Funnily enough, the windshield only got a few fault lines, but the right window was gone. Glass rained down on me.
We think the van is totalled at this point, especially because once you get glass in a vehicle, there is no getting it out. Professional cleaning doesn’t work.
Thank goodness we were in the bigger vehicle! It could have been SOOO much worse!
The Good Samaritan:
A Good Samaritan came up to us and asked if we were okay. She let us sit in her car while we waited for Highway Patrol and the paramedics.
She and Dad helped me across the freeway. This was my one chance to walk across a freeway and I was in too much shock to notice.
There’s this moment in Wonder Woman where there’s a young soldier with a head injury who is in shock and being helped while walking. That was me. My legs were fine, but the shock was overpowering me and I couldn’t walk unaided.
A passenger in the wrecked Chevy asked me if I was okay. I said no, but I didn’t want to talk to him. I was in no condition to exchange insurance information and Dad refused to leave my side.
The Good Samaritan had a little dog and Dad held it (I forget if it was him or her) so that it wouldn’t jump out the window while his owner was helping out at the scene. I love dogs, and it says a lot that I couldn’t enjoy a dog.
I think the dog helped Dad emotionally. He was shaken from the accident, but he still gave a witness report to Highway Patrol.
He said to the dog, “Your mistress is a wonderful person!” I agree.
Paramedics on the Scene:
The paramedics came quickly and checked me over. At first, I could only answer their questions about how I felt. Dad answered the ones he knew.
They asked me if I wanted to go in the same ambulance as the driver of the car that hit us. I said no, so they called another ambulance.
They also said if you have your own vehicle, you can drive yourself to the hospital. I’m having a tough time following that logic. Why would you drive if you were in total shock from an accident?!
At one point, I spat out a bit of glass from the window.
I had to talk to the paramedic again when I felt like I had swallowed a shard of glass. He told me to tell the doctor when I got to the hospital that I might need an MRI or CT scan.
The paramedic then told me the ambulance they called for me was diverted because of a DUI. Seriously? Two accidents in a row?
I told the paramedic that I feel like people are driving WAAYYYY too recklessly these days! He agreed without hesitation.
When Dad said we were on our way to the Bay Area (a hotspot for reckless drivers), the paramedic asked, “Are you sure that’s wise?”
I didn’t have the energy to explain my Pit Stop.
My pain level started out as an 8/10, and after half an hour it was about 7.5/10. I told the paramedic I had appendicitis four years ago.
He asked me which is more painful, my rib or appendicitis. I said that at first, I would have said my rib but eventually, it became a moving target.
A Few Other Things:
I think my heart rate was off the charts! When the paramedic checked me, he said, “Your pulse is okay considering the circumstances.”
I noticed that paramedics have a great life hack for taking down a patient’s details. They write them on their gloves with a Sharpie. Cool or what?
A witness came by to give a report. He had been in the centre-right lane next to us.
When he saw the accident was about to happen, he accelerated out of the way. He was on his way to a party, but Dad and I were extremely grateful that he came back to give a report.
I called Mum between the time of the accident and when the paramedics arrived. Even though she was distressed to find out what happened, I had to ring off pretty fast.
An Ambulance for Me:
By now, the Good Samaritan had got as much stuff out of our moving van as she could. We said goodbye for now, but we have stayed in touch.
I was relieved when the ambulance arrived. The steps were rather high, so I had to sit on one and move up.
I’m scared of hospitals, so it says a lot that I was relieved. Actually, I found the ambulance genuinely cool!
I had never been in an ambulance before. They sat me on the side where I could hold on.
The paramedic gave me an ice pack for my rib and rigged me up to keep an eye on my heart rate. I commented on how there’s a lot of cool stuff in the ambulance!
As Dad said, “The inside is cool. It’s just the patient’s problems that can make it upsetting.” That’s so true. When we think of ambulances we think of sick or hurt people.
I find that I might be scared of something medical and then I am like, “Hey, this is actually cool!” I had the same reaction to a CT scan.
Dad didn’t need to go to the hospital, but he came with me in the ambulance. He was done with Highway Patrol and had got most of our stuff.
The Good Samaritan encouraged him to get checked out at some point, even though he didn’t need to go to the hospital. He’s bruised from the seatbelt, but sometimes you can have a problem and not know it.
You should have seen the look of relief on the paramedic’s faces when we said we were wearing our seatbelts! They didn’t make it obvious, but it was there. Clearly, wearing seatbelts makes their job easier!
At the Hospital:
When we were almost at the hospital, the paramedics gave me and Dad masks. I was glad to see people are still wearing masks at hospitals!
We got into the Trauma Unit and eight people swarmed me like worker bees. Dad was allowed in, and he respectfully stayed out of the way.
I went along with the paramedics’ recommendation for a hospital. This was my first time in Reno, and I was completely dependent on their judgment.
When I am in a new place and I don’t know the hospitals, I go with professional judgment. It’s never failed!
It worked out well. Seeing the team swarm in gave me a good impression of the place.
The doctor was kind and pleasant. He checked me as a physical therapist or chiropractor would and sent me for two x-rays of my ribs.
I heard it again from the Trauma Team. People are driving WAAAYYY too recklessly these days! When I said it, everyone nodded.
A Note About Auto Glass:
When I told the doctor I might have swallowed some auto glass, he reassured me I would pass it on my own. No need for an MRI or CT scan.
Auto glass breaks off into round pieces and is layered with plastic. Although, there are some small shards that sting when you touch them.
I am sure I swallowed a shard, but it wasn’t a problem. It wouldn’t show up on a scan of my insides, so I just had to wait it out.
The doctor said that Marines will have competitions where they eat auto glass. They do it to prove they are tough.
I asked if they were among the same people who drank bleach to cure COVID-19. I don’t remember the response, but the Trauma staff looked like they had seen a few of those people.
Mum told me to research the history of auto glass. She has repaired cars and has told me a lot of facts about Body and Fender.
X-rays and Afterwards:
Dad went to the waiting area when I went to get my x-rays. I got wheeled out to see him when I was done.
A Highway Patrol officer came to talk to us. He gave us a copy of the accident report and told us when to use it.
He made it clear that we were not at fault. The driver will get cited, and fined and might have to appear in court.
The officer also checked in on us. I said I was waiting on a diagnosis for a potentially broken rib. Dad said he was shaken.
Again, the Highway Patrol officer said that people are driving WAAAYYY too recklessly these days! He got called out to EIGHT accidents the night before!
I know that there are serious problems with racism among the police, but I have to admit, it was great to know Highway Patrol is efficient in dealing with accidents. That’s their job after all!
We called UHaul Roadside Assistance and explained that we were stranded. They put us up in a hotel for the night and called an Uber to take us there from the hospital.
The diagnosis was a cracked rib and I just have to wait it out to heal. I was out of the hospital in a few hours and was able to relax for a bit.
Thank goodness I got comprehensive insurance coverage on the UHaul! I don’t think people can get by without full coverage on their vehicles these days!
My economics professor taught a whole lesson on insurance. He said that even though comprehensive coverage is more expensive if you run into a problem, you save money in the long run.
I’m all for saving money since I’m an economics major. I love a good deal, but I also think long-term and figure out the opportunity cost.
Plus, future planning is an investment, not an expense. So there you go.
Now, I am “home” (aka Mission Control). I haven’t lost sight of my goal of being a digital nomad, but it’s nice to be safe and have time to recover now.
I will do two more posts about this trip. One about being stranded after the accident and one about the trip before the accident.
Feel free to share your experiences in the comments! Talk to you later!