June 30, 2011
Every year, on Christmas night, my entire family packs up and leaves for a vacation to Orlando. All the cousins squeeze into two cars, and we drive through the night. The ride gets pretty uncomfortable because eleven people go, plus our entire luggage. The third year we went was a road trip that I would never forget. After what felt like two days of riding, we were about an hour out of Florida. I had finally managed to fall asleep in the very back seat at about six in the morning. An hour later, I was jolted awake and heard nothing but screaming. Apparently, we had gone through construction and blew a tire, and my grandma could not gain control of the Expedition. The last thing I remember was my older cousin in the middle seat reaching forward trying to help my grandma. When I woke up, I was lying outside the car and could hear everyone screaming each other’s names. I looked to my left and realized my arms and legs were both stuck under the car, and the entire Expedition was lying on its side.
While I was lying there trying to make sense of the situation, my cousin was working on getting my grandma, grandpa, and two other cousins out of the car. The car in front of us had my parents, siblings, and aunt and uncle. When they realized we weren’t behind them anymore, four teenagers weren’t answering their cell phones, and they heard all kinds of sirens, they immediately turned around and in the process, my dad caused a fender bender behind them. After everyone was out of the car, my cousin came and laid beside me. I remember looking at her and asking if I was going to have an arm after this. She felt up under the car and assured me my arm was still there. While she was lying there holding my hand, I remember saying something about how painful it was, and we both nervously laughed as if I wasn’t stating the obvious. Once the ambulance and fire trucks arrived, I remember seeing my grandma sobbing and my dad pacing back and forth while they were both being held back. A number of other people who had saw the accident were just standing around staring, not really knowing what to do. The rescue workers started putting things under the car to make sure it wouldn’t roll back over, and the fireman pointed a hose towards me because it smelled like gasoline, and the car could potentially catch on fire with me under it. I asked one of the rescue workers if I was going to be okay, and he told me they were going to get me out of there. I heard my dad call out that everything was going to be fine, and he loved me. After they finally got a device to lift the car, I felt a small amount of pressure come off of my arm, which at this point, was one of the best feelings. After about fifteen minutes, they got the car lifted up enough to remove my arm, and they put a stretcher under me, and when I rolled back over, I felt bones crack in my back.
My grandpa and I were both rushed to the hospital. The area that had taken the main part of the roll of the car was above my grandpa, and it had scraped off the top part of his scalp. He was treated and released, but the family could tell it had taken a toll on his body. I was the only one who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, so everyone else had walked away from the wreck with only a couple bruises. When I was in the emergency room, my cousin, who had taken care of me, came in to see me, and she was covered in blood. She told me later that I was disgusted by all the blood and wondered where it came from and was surprised to find out it was all mine! After getting countless x-rays and MRI’s, we found out I needed staples in my head, I had fractures in my back, and my pelvis had broken in the front and back. I didn't break any of the bones in my arm, but my arm was swollen so much that it didn't even look like an arm. However, I was very lucky.
Soon after being admitted into the hospital, there were countless tornado warnings, and we had to spend the night out in the hallway with all of the other patients. It seemed like nothing could go right. My little brother had to spend his 9th birthday in a hotel and a hospital instead of at Disney World. During one of the days, the rescue worker that took care of me in the ambulance came into the hospital to see how I was doing. He told my family that when they first arrived on the scene, they were expecting people to not have survived. I ended up spending a miserable, long week in a hospital in Tifton, Georgia. Three people were required to get me out of bed, and once out of bed, the only thing I could do was sit in a wheelchair.
After seven days, it was finally time to travel back to Ohio, which I was scared to death to do. After a number of nurses helped me into the car, they tried sedating me with all different kinds of medication to help ease the anxiety. However, I was so nervous, I was wide awake the entire time, and I’m sure my dad got annoyed with my back seat driving. We finally made it home. I ended up being in a wheelchair for two months, and unable to gain full movement back in my arm until about six months later. Today, I only have a scar on the back of my head, some scars on my left arm, and some scars on my back, which is a miracle.
This was the second time I had gotten in a wreck on the highway. When I was sixteen, I totaled my car and hadn’t driven on the highway since then. This accident made it impossible for me to even ride on the highway. I go an hour out of my way when traveling home from school just to avoid the highway, and when riding with others, I’m constantly telling them to slow down or brake. We took a year off from traveling to Florida, but the next year we set out on another adventure. We made it there safely, but it was a stressful drive for me. Despite all of the negatives that came out of the situation, I took away a number of good lessons from this accident. It brought my family a lot closer together, and I appreciate everything they do for me after seeing how well they took care of me for two months when I could do nothing. Most importantly, I learned never to take off my seat belt, no matter what.