May 16, 2022 at 6:40 p.m.
You see, on March 24, I was driving home from two days of farm appointments. It was a cool day and a bit over-cast and cloudy. I was traveling northbound and came over the top of a hill when I noticed a car traveling east to west, which was supposed to be slowing down for a stop sign at the intersection. However, in a split second, I noticed he was actually speeding up and apparently trying to beat me to the intersection. I didn’t have a stop sign, but he did. I knew I either needed to try and swerve to miss him (likely rolling my car) or take a hit. From the time I saw him until the massive crash to my passenger side was likely around two seconds or less.
I have heard from people in the past that in those situations your life flashes before your eyes. It did in a way that I never understood before. It is amazing how many people you can think of in two seconds and what an impact this potential disaster may have on your family, friends, job and financials.
The other guy, driving a 2010 Mercury, plowed into my right side at a speed of about 70 mph (according to the county sheriff’s department). The bang of the metal against metal and the explosion of all the airbags in my car was deafening. I knew I had to keep the car on four wheels, if at all possible, and hopefully not let it roll. My car traveled through the ditch out into a field and came to a stop on all four wheels.
I remember thinking, “If I can see myself in the rearview mirror, I must be alive.” However, there was no mirror. Then I heard someone say, “Are you OK?” Hearing that voice made me realize I was alive. I eventually responded, “No, I am hurt, and I can’t get out.”
Then suddenly the door opened and again he asked if I was OK but also said, “You blew the stop sign.”
I asked, “And, who are you?”
“The driver of the other car,” he said.
I responded, “No, you blew the stop sign.”
He looked over his left shoulder to the intersection and the replied back to me, “Well, maybe.”
Shortly after, a lady passerby appeared at my door and called 911. It seemed within seconds that the county sheriffs, the ambulance and local fire department were on the scene. One of the firemen, Matt, is a farm management student of mine and a very good friend. He called my wife to let her know what had happened and that I was being taken to the emergency room, was alive and should be OK. What a blessing it was to see his friendly face and to have him comfort my wife.
Blessed and grateful are about the only words to describe how I have felt since that day nearly seven weeks ago. Blessed to be alive. Grateful for all the first responders who always graciously give of their time and talents to help those they don’t even know. Blessed to have a wife who provided marvelous care during a time I wasn’t able to get out of a chair alone. She is the best. Blessed and grateful for no life-long injury resulting from the accident. I will recover from a fractured sternum, bruised ribs and lungs. Lastly, I am surely blessed to have my church and so many others who have prayed for me and helped my family in so many ways. God is good.
Why am I still alive after being hit at 70 mph? Why was I alone in the car as any passenger would have been crushed? Why am I so blessed? I am not sure how to respond to all of the questions that circulate in my mind, but I believe God must have plans for me yet.
I can choose to be angry at the young 26-year-old driver or to pray for him as he hopefully reaches a more responsible time in his life. I would actually like to meet him someday and thank him for asking if I was OK. Accidents change our lives. They can change us physically but also mentally in how we look at life. I am now reflecting back to how I cared for others when they needed help. Did I truly offer all I could? My accident will change the way I look at future situations and how I can be of support to others in times of need.
It brings up a topic I shared in my last article on estate planning. I leave you with this question. Are you and your family ready for an unforeseen situation? Do you have a plan, documents prepared, and does your family know your wishes should the unlikely situation occur? Reach out to get help and support in making these most important decisions for your family.
Tom Anderson is a Farm Business Management faculty member at Riverland Community College.
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