Last week I traveled from Charlotte to the Columbus, Ohio area (6.5 hours on a Google map which meant about 7.5 for me who likes to stop and stretchhhhh) to visit with two of my siblings so we could, on the surface, disperse the last of the family photos (and a few personal items) from my father’s house. The photos were an excuse to get together, but the real point of the trip (for me) was to just be with my family.
We spent a lot of time playing games: The Settlers of Catan Star Trek version, You Pick Two, Super Mario Brothers for the WII, etc. We also talked, had meals together, went to the Columbus Zoo. It is hard to describe everything we did together, but it was a terrific visit. I even had a chance to suggest a book to my brother called Maphead. It was written by Ken Jennings whom many might know as that guy who won a whole bunch of Jeopardy, but this book is such fun. It goes into being a map fan, but it goes further into discussing things like geocaching and how Google Earth got started. I read it on my Kindle, and had such a good time with it. Fun info, and well written. Ken Jennings has a light humorous touch! The only problem was – I had to get home.
The 7 hour trip on Sunday was going quite well. was about 10 miles from the NC state line when the fog was getting really bad. I grew up where fog was a serious issue so I wasn’t driving too fast. I did note a lot of people were driving too fast for conditions (cruise control?) and that WAY too many were not driving with their lights on. Around 1:15PM I remember hearing a loud noise, and then I noted a tractor trailer impacting a blue SUV type vehicle that appeared to be turned at a funny angle. I think it was hit (or hit) a tractor trailer on its left as well. I was braking and looking to my right where there was an emergency runaway truck ramp. I got over and out of my car. I was going to try and see if anyone needed help or if it appeared that anyone was calling 911.
That’s until I heard more crashes behind me.
There was a man there who said he worked for the Myrtle Beach EMS and he said we should pull up as far as we could on the emergency ramp to make room. I ran back to my car and moved up as multiple wrecks happened behind us. Once I was parked I got out and called 911. This was all within minutes as my phone says I called 911 at 1:19PM. I thought again about running down to help, but from what I could see this was a strange accident. Further up the road (about 1/4 a mile) a tractor trailer had apparently turned over. Something involving that truck made the chain reaction, it appeared. What I was staring at were at least three tractor trailers and about 10 cars at odd angles. Because this was a chain reaction with some delay most people were actually fortunate enough that they were able to run from their cars and up the embankments before being hit multiple times. Not everyone was that fortunate as there were at least three fatalities listed (one on the other side of the highway? Think that happened just moments later).
Instead I stayed with my car, let people borrow my phone as many people didn’t have a signal, and I tried to smile at the children. I tried to grab a cat that ran away from a vehicle, but it was too fast.
It was a scary incident, but I have to say the rescue workers were amazing. They were serious, but good-natured; they were prompt. The people waiting were also very patient which was nice to see given the severity of the situation.This isn’t the first time I’ve been so close to a serious accident, but it makes me thankful that I stay attentive in the car. I had one bad wreck when I was commuting a long way years ago that was my fault. I don’t ever want to be in that situation again.
Five hours later (I had only two to go before this all started) I made it home. I found my way to one family to visit and home to another, and maybe that is all I ever want to ask for.
Side note on the picture included here, I shared it with some people while the scene was being cleared, and apparently a few people co-opted it and I’ve seen it on news websites where credit is given to others. Doesn’t really bother me, but kind of interesting.