Sunday, January 18, 2009

"Serious MVA"

Apologies in advance for the longest post ever.

Ms. K and I had been driving back from Pennsylvania after a visit with her mother and father. The ride to Brooklyn was routine save for the bitchy toll both lady at the Holland Tunnel. Harley, our dog, sat in the back and I was in the front passenger seat. Ms. K was driving and we played 20 Questions to pass the time. We crossed the Manhattan Bridge and descended onto Flatbush Avenue and as we drove along, deftly avoiding crazy drivers and the cars double parked in front of Junior's, I felt that relief that comes with knowing that we were almost home after a long drive.

Ms. K later said that she had looked at the clock around the time we crossed the intersection of Flatbush and Seventh Avenue, noting that it was 9:52 pm. We entered the traffic circle at Grand Army Plaza, waited at a light, and then continued onto a stretch of Flatbush that runs between Prospect Park and the Botanical Gardens. I think we were still playing 20 Questions when I noticed a car swerve into our lane from the northbound side.

When I saw headlights come at us, there was a nanosecond before impact where I thought Oh shit, this is real. Is it odd to say that I felt calm? Strange to have been possessed by a unwavering sense that we would be okay? Somehow?

Ms. K swerved hard right to avoid a head on collision. I braced for the inevitable impact.

Boom. Broken metal, plastic, and glass.

Boom. Ms. K screamed.

The sensation felt like floating as the car spun 180 degrees and up onto the sidewalk along the park, our bodies cushioned by airbags and broken glass.

When the world stopped spinning, I was surprised by all the smoke in the car, an acrid and sulfuric powder that had been released from the airbags. It stung my lungs and eyes as I breathed in and out. The deflated air bag seemed everywhere and I struggled against it as I got out of the car. Ms. K was screaming for Harley. "Is he okay?! Is he okay?!"

Everything was moving so fast. Harley was in the back seat with his head sticking out of the blown out window, but it was covered by the curtain of the side impact airbag. I steeled myself for some gruesome reality, but he was fine. Freaked out, but fine.

Once he was out of the car I could finally take stock of what had happened. Ms. K managed to get out of the car somehow since her side of the car was all bashed in. I think she climbed out of her window. She had cuts to her face and blood streamed down along her eyes and hairline.

"Are you okay?!" I shouted from my side of the car as I struggled to keep Harley still, which is difficult seeing how he's about 75 lbs.

"I'm okay," she gulped looking like she was in shock. "Are you okay?"

"I'm okay." Nothing was broken and I was almost certain that I hadn't hit my head. It was literally ten degrees Fahrenheit outside and the force of the cold had made my body numb. I think I then noticed that my left hand was cut up and bleeding.

"What happened??" she asked, still in shock and looking as though she was about to cry.

I explained what I had seen before the impact. The swerving car, the headlights of a van or an SUV coming at us head on. I looked around the accident scene and saw a black SUV twenty feet away with its front end all bashed in. Across Flatbush Avenue was a unmarked white dollar van that had slammed into a light pole. (Dollar vans are like unlicensed gypsy cabs.) Two men were seemed to be assessing the damage of the van. Already park police were on the scene and trying to sort out traffic. The cop yelled to me from across the road to make sure we were okay.

I think I crossed myself about then, some old Catholic habit that I found myself resurrecting in the wake of our escape from grievous bodily harm.

About this time Harley, who had been struggling against me, slipped out of his leash and began bolting down Flatbush Avenue towards the zoo. Ms. K went running after him screaming his name to no avail. He was getting farther and farther away even as I tried to run after them lamely holding them empty leash and praying that he didn't run into the busy intersection.

"Please, God, please oh please . . . ."


Ms. K, a faster runner, already had some distance on my out of shape ass. But Harley was a mere speck on the horizon with no chance of either of us catching up to him. At that point a car pulled up along side Ms. K. There was some exchange of words and then Ms. K got into this car. What the fuck?! I tried to memorize the plate number as they drove away wondering if I would ever see her or Harley again.

So there I was on that desolate stretch of Flatbush and quite some ways from the accident scene. I held the empty leash not knowing what to do. I was in shock and cold. My bloody hand freezing -- painfully so. I started to walk the half mile back to the car, getting as far as the zoo when I thought to call Ms. K.

"I GOT HIM!" she cried immediately upon answering. The driver of the car that she had gotten into had seen the accident and had seen Harley take off. They managed to cut him off before he could run into the intersection. It's amazing that someone offered to do this seeing how she was covered in blood and hysterical. But that anonymous Samaritan is the only reason we have Harley back. Ms. K had practically tackled him to stop him from running away. I met them down at the intersection and we put him into his leash. Cops pulled up around that time and offered us a ride back to the accident scene -- the first and hopefully last time I'll ever be in the back of a cop car.

The rest of the experience involved questions, shivering in the awful cold, and medical attention in an ambulance. An EMT cleaned up and bandaged my bloody hand. The drivers of the dollar van were long gone, which meant we were the lucky recipients of a hit and run accident. [Nothing new by dollar van standards. Info here and here.] They wanted to take us to the hospital, but we were fine. Miraculously so. The car is probably totaled, but the most important thing is that we are okay. Bruised, but okay and so fucking thankful that we were able to walk away from that accident thanks to Ms. K's quick thinking and the safety of our Volkswagen Jetta. Oh and thanks to the NYPD too, they were so unbelievably nice. A retired cop even drove us home.


A. said...

holy bejesus. glad you're all okay!

graceless said...

oh shit, that sounds horrific. so glad that the three of you re alright.

Red said...

!!!! I am so glad you are all safe. This lucky escape and the miracle plane crash-- I am relieved at all the happy endings in New York City recently. :)

Holden said...

My heart was in my mouth reading this, glad you're all ok after such a horrible ordeal.

so-wicked said...

Goodness, if this story seemed scary like this, on screen, I can't imagine how it was for the three of you right then and there (and especially afterward, when you cooled off). I am very glad to see you're all okay.

afro76 said...

So glad that all three of you are safe.

EnnuiHerself said...

That is scary! I'm glad you guys are alright.

(((Ms. K)))

Alexa said...

holy cow... i'm glad you guys are ok...

Anonymous said...

That's awful and it's great that all three of you are OK.

pomegranate said...

what a terrifying story - glad you're okay, and how fantastic of that stranger to help you save harley. here's to quick healing...

liz said...

Glad to hear you're all okay.

I have to admit though, as I was reading I thought, "Oh no, I hope the dog was strapped in." I was relieved to read he made it through alright and was found safe. :)

Ms. Avarice said...

How the fuck did I miss this! I've been so busy ignoring my google reader! Glad to hear you're well, the story was riveting and I know the actual experience was a million times worse!

Ms. Avarice said...

Also glad to hear pup is okay. I have definitely had dogs do that and it just rips your heart out!