Mike and I had lunch with friends today and headed home afterwards since we had an electrician coming to the house at 2:00. Since we had about 90 minutes until the appointment, I asked MIke if we could make a quick stop at the grocery first.
We were driving south on Town Center Blvd, a busy road that connects most neighborhoods of Summerlin. I should explain that the road has six lanes—three in each direction—with four turn lanes—two in each direction—at the major intersections. We were in the third lane from the right, and a red Nissan was in front of us. While the car was not weaving, it was moving slightly left-and-right in the lane. About 50 yards from the light, the driver started putting on his brakes even though the straight-through lanes had a green light. The turn lanes had a red light. By the time we got within 20 feet of him, he had all but stopped, and Mike swerved right to avoid hitting him.
"What the hell is he doing?" I asked Mike.
"He's probably not sure if he should turn or go straight," Mike said. At that point, we had started to pass him. He accelerated and made a wide turn crossing in front of all four turn lanes and into oncoming traffic. We heard the horrible crash followed by a second crash.
"Oh, my God," I exclaimed, "he hit her." Mike made a u-turn at a break in the median, parked, and rushed toward the intersection. At first glance, I saw only the red car that had been in front of us. It was in the middle of the road, facing northeast, its front completely destroyed. I saw a man running over to the car. As I ran up the sidewalk, I saw that a gold SUV had jumped the curb and had stopped in a grassy area just before the block wall surrounding the apartment complex on that corner.
Everything happened in slow motion. The man who approached the car was helping an older man out of it and over to the corner. A woman dressed in black got out of the gold SUV and appeared to be making a phone call. Another woman walked up to the light post on the corner. Pieces of cars—lights, bumpers, glass—littered the road. I caught up with MIke, and we crossed the street and approached the others.
"We saw it all," Mike said to the younger man. "Were you in one of the cars?" He told us that he was not and that he was just helping the old man whom he steered to a stone bench on that corner. I ran up to the gal who was talking to the police. I could tell she was the other driver from her part of the conversation.
"Are you okay?" I asked her. She nodded and continued to talk with the dispatcher. At that point, Mike and I noticed that the main light was blinking red on all sides because the SUV had plowed down the traffic signal on the corner. Wires were all over the sidewalk, and the pole and signal rested between the SUV and block wall. Mike picked up the big pieces of the bumper from the street and started directing traffic so that people would move.
The woman driver who is probably in her mid-30s, finally hung up the phone. I told her we had witnessed the accident and explained what had happened. She had seen the red car turning in front of her, tried to swerve out of the way, and the impact sent her flying over the curb and into the signal. "Can you hold me?" she asked me. I put my arms around her, and we stood there for a few moments as she shook. "I better call my husband," she said.
While she did that, I checked on the man who had a huge gash on his head and on his hand. "My head and legs hurt," he told me, "but I'm okay. I want to go home and lie down." I told him that he probably needed stitches in his head wound and that he was probably going to the hospital. "I don't know what happened," he continued.
I walked to the corner to check on Mike, and a woman leaning on the light post asked me what had happened. I explained, and she said, "I had just crossed the street. If I had been a minute later, she would have hit me." The lady grabbed me and hugged me. "One minute, and I might not be here."
"Thank God you are okay," I told her. She was still shaking as she walked away. I walked back to the two drivers. At that point, we heard sirens, and a fire truck roared up and stopped hear the car in the intersection. A few minutes later, an ambulance arrived. It had been 30 minutes since the accident happened.
To shorten this story, let me tell you that the paramedics ended up taking the older man to the hospital. His head cut was very deep and needed attention, but he was also very confused by the whole thing. A motorcycle policeman arrived about an hour after the accident, and he took our statement and told us he appreciated our stopping. "It makes my job much easier," he said. I hugged the woman driver as we prepared to leave.
"I cannot thank you enough for stopping and helping," she told me.
"I would want someone to stop for me or my daughter," I told her.
I just received a text from the woman driver telling me that she didn't get home until almost 4:00. She was still a little shaken, but she was okay.
It took no more than a second for the male driver to make the decision to turn into oncoming traffic. It took a split second for him to hit that SUV and send it flying. It took a mere seconds for the woman walker to be past what could have been disaster for her. A couple of seconds made a difference in three lives, but, thankfully, the differences were not as tragic as they could have been.
Each moment of our lives count. Live each moment.