May 21st, 2010
The first full day started out with a bit of drama. We were driving north on Highway 101, going to San Francisco, when we witnessed a single car accident - right in front of us. We were just south of the city when it happened.
In the far left lane,there was a woman in her thirties driving a black Impreza sedan. We think she was applying makeup when she lost control. Claus was driving and saw the whole thing.
He says she drifted into the center lane, overcorrected, and swerved left (towards the median.) She overcorrected herself again and swerved right again, into the center lane. After another overcorrection, she veered left.
That last time, she went too far left, and hit the concrete median barrier. We were driving 60 miles per hour and she was consistently in front of us, so she was also probably going at that speed.
She hit the median with the back left of the car, which caused the car to ricochet off the median, and across all four lanes of traffic. I was looking at my phone but I heard a noise, plus Claus started saying, "Whoa whoa whoa!" while applying the brakes.
When I looked up I saw the woman's car scraping against the median, and black smoke coming up from the tires. We all watched it cross all lanes of traffic in what seemed like slow motion, smoking tires and screeching horribly. The woman driving the car looked panicked.
The car spun around 180 degrees as it crossed the highway. While it was in the center lanes it was actually horizontal, so if it was hit, it would have been broadsided.
It hit the guardrail on the right side, stopping mostly in the shoulder lane, facing the wrong direction. The nose was sticking out a bit into traffic. Luckily, it was in a straight stretch of road so other cars had time to merge left.
There were five of us in my car: three adults and two kids. I didn't think we would hit her since we were braking in time, but I thought it was a very real possibility that another car might hit her, and then ricochet and hit us, causing a multi-car accident.
I have never seen a car accident taking place, and it was really surreal. Claus saw 100% of it, and I saw 90% of it. It's amazing and LUCKY no cars were hit. That is a busy freeway.
We pulled over to help her, but she seemed fine. Claus walked up to her window and saw makeup scattered around the driver's side floor mat. I called 911.
She was in shock, I'm sure. I was a little stressed out from the thought that we might get hit.
I wish Olivia was 15 years old so I could tell her this is why you are not supposed to drive distracted. No putting on makeup, no talking on the phone, no reading text messages, etc. This sure made a bigger impression on me than any amount of lecturing, and I DON'T put makeup on while driving!
I hope we've all learned a valuable lesson from this close call, even if we weren't the ones who caused it.
Have you ever seen an accident in progress?
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