Saturday, June 30, 2012

New twist on the fender bender

I've been in a few car accidents in my day.  I'm embarrassed to say that two of my accidents occured at red lights.....after I'd already been stopped.  Oops!  My most infamous accident occured two days before I was supposed to drive my car from Virginia to Oregon. I was probably going a tiny bit fast on the highway when it was raining (I'm from Oregon...come on, I've got this rain thing down) and hydroplaned and my car started spinning out of control. I channeled my inner Carrie Underwood, let go of the wheel and started singing at the top of my lungs, "Jesus take the wheeeeeeel....."  Not really. Really I gripped as tight as I could and just yelled "Please, Please, Please, Please, Please....." until I came to a stop in the grassy median.  But I always wished that I'd done the first thing.  Would have been a cooler story. 

I'll put your  mind at ease right now (Mom) and tell you that I was not in an accident.  But I was in a meeting the other day with a man who was, and I wanted to tell you his story because it made me pause and have one of those "I'm not in Kansas anymore" moments. 

To preface, this guy is one of those super sweet guys that is easy to like. He's an older guy and very mild mannered, polite, funny.....just one of those guys you like right away.  Last month he was scheduled to go to Nigeria for a conference.  The day he was supposed to leave he left the house in a car to go get some cash for his trip.  He was driving along a really bad road and hit a "high center" (not sure what that is...something in the middle of the road).  The jolt made his foot mash down on the accelerator.  He saw that he was heading towards two men who were standing on the side of the road.  He swerved to miss them but unfortunately as he swerved, the men looked up and saw he was headed towards them....and jumped right in front of the car.  He hit both of them.

He immediately got out of the car and noticed that at least one of them was not moving. At that moment a man came up to him and asked him if he was the driver. When my friend said that he was, the man said "Don't say that again and come with me."  My friend said that he couldn't go because he needed to help these people he'd just hit. The man was insistant and started to physically move him to the side of the road to a motorbike.  My friend started fighting harder, asking where he was taking him. "To the police station" the man said. And off they went. 

When he arrived at the police station, he told the first officer he saw that he had been in an accident. The officer immediately asked where the vehicle was. When my friend told him it was at the scene, the officer asked where the keys were. My friend held up the keys and the officer took the keys and left the room. 

They went through the motions of filling out the report, etc.  They put my friend in a cell in the jail.  Later the police officer that had taken his keys came back. As he gave my friend his keys, he told him how lucky he was that someone there had taken him from the scene.  "By the time I arrived there to take your car, a mob had already formed and started to take your car apart. If you had stayed there, they would have killed you."  Wow. 

Apparently a couple weeks ago there was an accident in an area that I travel through frequently.  The car was driven by a Sierra Leonean guy and there were two white guys in the back.  The driver accidentally hit two kids.  As soon as he saw what he did he stopped the car, jumped out and took off. The white guys didn't know what to do so they stayed there....and a mob formed.  They took the two guys into the bush, beat the crap out of them and torched the car.  Yikes.

Back to the story about my friend.  Unfortunately one of the men died a few hours after reaching the hospital.  He is devestated. :(  We are grateful though, that the deceased man's family did not want to press any charges so my friend was released from jail.  After he finished sharing this story wth us, someone asked how he was doing.  "Well," he said, "Physically I am doing fine.  Emotionally though, it has been very rough.  I think though other traumas I've had in my life, have helped because I have some coping skills that are helping me. I think it would have been worse if I have not already been through some of the things I've been through."  Oh Sierra Leone.

For many years I have talked about the legion of angels that God has around my car, protecting me from the stupid things I tend to do.  After hearing this story, I think I need an upgrade.  What's bigger than a legion?

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