This was an ugly way to end our trip.

And so ended our vacation.

After crossing the Wheeling Suspension Bridge onto Wheeling Island, we crossed the little bridge into Ohio and then socko.

And so ended our vacation.

Time seemed to slow down during the accident. I could see that the green Saturn wagon was going to hit us. I even had time to think, “We’re about to have an accident.” As the Saturn hit us I didn’t feel the impact, but I did watch the intersection spin by as my car whipped around. As the fender curled up like the lid on a sardine can, I saw the undercarriage of the Saturn as its right side left the ground on its way by my front right quarter.

When all cars came to rest, time resumed its normal pace. I checked to see if my sons were hurt, and they didn’t appear to be. My younger son seemed not to know what had happened and was puzzled that I was checking on him until he tried to open his door, which was stuck shut. When I told him he’d have to get out on his brother’s side, his face darkened as reality set in. We got out and walked around the debris from the other car, including its entire front bumper, and sat down on the curb as an ambulance and a fire truck came screaming to the scene. I held my sons as they cried.

We were damned lucky – none of us was injured. This could have been a terrible accident if the car that hit us had been going faster or if other cars were in the way as we spun around. I have thanked God over and over that we walked away.

After the EMTs checked us out, we rode along with the tow truck to a tow yard, where we spent the whole day. When we finally got a rental car the sun was setting and all we wanted to do was go home. The Ohio portion of our trip would have to wait for another day. I have never been so happy to drive I-70.

This damage totaled my poor little car. I learned that if you have to have an accident five hours from home, you want to walk away from it, and you want it to total your car so you don’t have to deal with having it towed home or fixed in a distant town. My insurance company cut me a check and I went car shopping. I didn’t set out to buy another Matrix, but I needed another little wagon to haul the kids and the dog, and the price was right.

Replacement Matrix

For a couple days after we came home, the accident was our chief memory of the trip. I realized we needed to balance the view, so I downloaded our photos from my camera and looked through them with the boys. It helped us to remember the fun we’d had up to that point and start to move beyond the wreck. Writing these blog entries about all the great things we saw on the road has helped me work through it, too, and has restored my temporarily damaged love of the road trip.

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7 responses to “And so ended our vacation”

  1. David Avatar

    Bummer; yet thank God indeed that there were no personal injuries. May you “finish” the 40 trip soon and under happy circumstances. I have enjoyed the trip!

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’m dying to see the S bridges and brick pavement left behind on the road in Ohio, so it’s definitely on my to-do list!

  2. Lerch Avatar

    I’m so glad everyone was OK, and I’m also glad to know that these blog posts, which I genuinely love, are also bringing you comfort! Great insight about the memories of the trip, and great idea to review the pics with your boys for the balance.

    1. Jim Avatar

      I’m really gratified to know you’ve enjoyed following our National Road trip so much.

  3. wordination Avatar

    Socko — right in the sweet spot. Arggh. The worst part of a wreck is not so much the damage, disappointment, or paperwork to come, but the shaky feeling in your knees as you exit the vehicle safe in the knowledge you’re still alive :)

    1. Jim Avatar

      That shaky-kneed feeling was overshadowed only by how I hurt for my poor scared sons.

  4. bernie kasper Avatar

    Sorry about the wreck Jim, glad to see it worked out !!

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