Years of therapy and I’m still not sure I’m ready to type this out, but hell, here goes nothing.
I live in a pretty rural area in south Texas. The roads of the area are winding, wrapping around some pretty sizable hills and other odd land masses. A mere 16 years old, literally within my first week of driving, I was diving along at the ungodly hour of 5am for morning basketball practice before school. It was pitch black outside, and I was struggling to keep my eyes open after a night of little shut-eye.
Before long I realized I was being followed uncomfortably closely by a large pick-up truck. The jackass started honking his horn and flashing his highbeams at me soon after, and I could notice him swerving and swaying quite a bit. At the time I drove a little blue Honda Civic, as the decent gas mileage helped with my commute to and from the boonies. Needless to say, I was mortified. This guy’s truck dwarfed my little coupe, and I was the only thing in his way. I would have given anything to get out of this dude’s way, but there was no shoulder to pull over onto, no escape whatsoever.
As we rounded one of the larger hills I could hear his engine roar and I could see him enter the other lane to pass me. The curve ahead was a big one, and there was absolutely no way to tell if there was another car rounding the corner in the opposing direction. I remember this moment like it happened 10 seconds ago. I was in total shock that this guy was actually trying the pass me at such an awful stretch of road, and I was gasping “holy shit”. I had gotten to the l in holy before I was interrupted by a deafening crash followed by the painful screech of tires against the asphalt.
The truck completely obliterated a small car in the most brutal head on collision I could have imagined. I swerved hard out of the way and nearly slammed right into the mess myself while correcting back onto the road. I managed to catch my breath and pull over a little ways ahead, grabbed my cell and started sprinting back to see what I could do to help. I arrived back to the wreckage and could barely work up the courage to peek into the vehicles which were separated by a few feet.
I hadn’t really thought about what it would be like to see a corpse before. I had seen plenty in my video game career, countless on TV cop shows, etc. I had never, until that very moment, seen one in the nightmarish light that is reality. A middle-aged woman’s body sat motionless, eyes wide open, bloody and contorted. I immediately felt woozy, and I was luckily able to make it to the side of the road before passing out.
I wasn’t out long at all, a few seconds at max. I dialed 911 on my cell and tried my best to collect my thoughts and speak to the operator. I gave her the details, about the accident, the woman’s current state, everything. She asked me about the driver of the pickup truck, and to be quite honest, I had completely forgotten there was another human being involved. I told her “I don’t know” and she did her best to persuade me to go and check the truck for a survivor. I kept repeating “no way”. I couldn’t bear to see another mangled corpse, not so soon after. I was traumatized, I didn’t know what to think about ANYTHING anymore, all I knew was that 100 men couldn’t force me to go near that damn truck.
Eventually she gave in and stopped asking me to check the truck, and instead asked me the make/model of the two cars involved in the accident. I looked at the truck, and recognized it was a Chevrolet of some sort. I looked at poor woman’s car, and it was a little blue Honda Civic coupe.
The paramedics arrived maybe 15 minutes after I made the call, and I was brought off to the side to speak with the police after the paramedics confirmed that I wasn’t in any medical danger. My mom came and picked me up about half an hour later and we drove home. I read in the paper later on that there were no survivors, and surprise surprise, the guy in the pick-up was drunk out of his mind. No matter how much my therapist tries to persuade me that I am not to blame for any of this, I can’t help but feel that if I was able to get up the nerve to check the truck perhaps a life could’ve been saved that day, albeit perhaps it was the life of a man undeserving.