Sometimes We Crash


On my favorite hike yesterday evening I had a soul-stopping moment.

There is a rather busy road hikers have to cross to pick up the trail again, with no light or stop sign, so cars have to stop to let pedestrians go. I had just crossed the street when I heard that all too familiar sound of crunching metal.

I whipped around expecting a fender-bender. Instead, I watched her car flip off the side of the road and disappear over the drop-off.

I sprinted back across the street, expecting her to be gone. Several people jumped out of their cars and we all joined at the side of the road.

The car was pinned against the base of a tree, which saved it from somersaulting down the cliff. Had there been a passenger with her, that person would not have made it.

Four men rushed down to the car as we called for help. We all watched in horror, expecting the very worst.

Miraculously she was conscious and crying, with no visible injuries.

We are always told that a person should not be moved until help arrives. However, when a car is cradled precariously by a tree with the possibility of plummeting into a creek way down below, that changes things.

And so the guys worked together and managed to bring her up the cliff to safety.

Good-hearted people kept running over to help. At that point there were too many cooks in the kitchen and we had to turn people away. We needed to keep traffic going so the ambulance could actually get through on the narrow, winding road.

Four of us remained with the driver until help arrived. We did what we could for her during that time.

Fortunately, one man was a physician and besides being extremely shaken up, he could tell that she was alright. Effing lucky as all get-out, but alright.

The other man called the young woman’s mother. It was heart-wrenching to watch her attempt to form a complete sentence on the phone, but you could see that just hearing her mom’s voice was the best thing for her while we waited.

The other woman I was with covered her shaking shoulders with a shawl and I gave her my bottle of water. We continued comforting her as best as we could.

Naturally, it seemed like years before the reassuring sound of sirens echoed in the distance when it had probably only been minutes.

I answered a few questions and then I began my long hike back home in a daze.

This was only my second hike since a pretty awful bicycling accident I had with Silvie a couple of weeks ago when I hit a jerk of a pothole. (Hence, the Band-Aid pic above.)

I crashed and burned on my way home from work, because I wasn’t paying attention the way I should have been. I paid for it too, with a mosaic of bruises, bumps, and scrapes all over my lower body. Crotch bruises…not fun.

I had trouble sleeping and walking for a week. Naturally, Yoga and hiking were out of the question. But I got back on Silvie the bike again two days later. Because after all of that, I was banged up but alright.

Sometimes we crash. The important thing about crashing is to learn from it, to recognize that life is precious and very, very fragile.

We live in a world of distractions that alarmingly moves faster and faster each day. Our minds are cluttered, trying to keep up with it all.

I’m not writing this to campaign against texting and driving, because duh—don’t do that.

I’m writing this to say two things…

  1. There is no such thing as being too present. Slow down, pay attention, and be in every moment as much as you possibly can. It may save your life.
  2. No matter what happens—an accident, a disaster, a crash—we are there for one another. The beauty of the human heart will always come through. And that, lovelies, is a powerful thing.



37 thoughts on “Sometimes We Crash

  1. Love that advice! I may just have to reblog this with a slightly different take, but quoting your two pieces of advice!

    And I’m glad she was okay. Thanks again for the lovely post and beautiful writing!

    1. Awesome…thanks, Stan! And, I certainly didn’t see what happened before the crash, so I don’t want to blame the gal in any way. Things happen. Thank goodness everything turned out the way it did and nobody else was hurt.

  2. Oh My Goodness – How Scary! Glad to hear she was okay – one lucky lady too. It is amazing how quickly life can flip on you. Your bike accident too – ouchie! I have gone over the handlebars twice while bike riding – hurts and smarts – lessons learned.

    Have a Great Day 🙂

    1. Totally scary! Hope to never see anything like that again. But, as always, I’m trying to learn from it.

      Twice over the handlebars? Yikes! I’ve been fortunate not to fly over the handlebars yet, but that pothole almost broke my streak.

      Here’s to a crash-free year for both of us! : )

      1. Here, Here to Crash Free 🙂 I have done road biking and then moved to mountain biking and now bike for pure pleasure, which is safer and so much more enjoyable.

  3. What a scary thing to witness. So glad the woman was all right. Having so many people rush to help her shows the good that exists in the world. We’re so quick to hear about the bad, but I like to believe the good far outweighs the bad out there.

    1. Yes, it was. In a way I wished I had never seen it, in a way I feel it was important for me to witness. The people coming to genuinely help, not to gawk at a potentially injured/dead person, really moved me. Agreed on hearing about the bad over the good. It’s the main reason why I have pretty much cut myself off from the news for the past five years or so.

  4. I’m so glad she was alright! (but sorry to hear about your previous tumble – ouch!)

    It really restores our faith in humanity when we see people pulling together to help another. I’m really glad I read this post this morning because I was just reading the morning newspaper which made me feel quite depressed about the state of the world. Thank you for restoring that faith, Britt! xxx

    Life is very fragile indeed and paying attention while you drive can mean the difference between life and death and all that goes in between.

    1. I am with Dianne; your actions and those of the other witnesses does restore faith in humanity. May there always be more comforters than there are accidents.

    2. Oh, I can’t read the newspaper…WAY too depressing. I was just telling Carrie that I had to cut myself off from the news years ago to maintain my sanity. So happy to have restored some faith in humanity by sharing this. That was my hope, since we never hear enough about the good out there.

  5. Thanks for the reminder-you have had unusual experiences in Portland. I think the Northwest is very mystical.

    1. Absolutely! I have had some wild experiences thus far, but I’ve also been trying to put myself out there more than before. That brings along more stories, for sure!

  6. This is so beautiful and true and being there for each other makes this crazy life worth living. Be careful out there in the wild west! 🙂

  7. Quick thinking and a wonderful story. I’m happy you made it through your own crash with only scrapes and bruises. Had several on a motorcycle but lived to tell the tale

    1. Thanks, Dannie! I’m thankful for the scrapes and bruises, and also to have them NOT on my face. That would have been awful. Motorcycles are a whole different ballgame…eek! Glad you survived those!

  8. What a frightening thing to witness -thank goodness she was ok in the end (amazing that the tree was there to block the car). I love that everyone came together and provided help and comfort in whatever way they were able to. And you are so right, this is a reminder to slow down. I will be thinking of this all day today. I’m glad you were out of harm’s way of the car too.

    1. We were all stunned by the whole scene (as you can imagine). That tree could have easily had the opposite effect, but instead ended up being the thing that saved her. It was very beautiful to see so many genuinely coming to her rescue.

      Slowing down is something we can always work on, myself especially.

  9. Ouch and wow. You just never know. Especially when driving you’re only a split-second away from disaster. You’ve taken that blind bend a thousand times before but this time there’s a car stopped right after it, or a child who has wandered away from its Mom. If we were programmed to expect the worst, rather than what’s gone before then car accidents would be a small fraction of what they are now.

    Pleased all involved got out of their scrapes in more or less one piece.

    1. Ouch and wow is right on! The gorgeousness of Oregon certainly brings some dangerous roads with it. I have a major respect for the winding roads and tend to be on high alert. I’m sure people that have grown up here can get too cozy/complacent with these drop-offs they’ve always had around. I am beyond relieved that everything panned out the way that it did.

  10. Ai yi yi yi. Your sentence about the woman talking to her mom and how that was what she needed brought tears to my eyes. She is so lucky to be alive and so lucky that there were plenty of people to help her. Great advice about slowing down and being present. I need to keep that at the forefront of my mind as lately, I have been way too rushed and overwhelmed.

    1. Seeing her talk to her mom was tough, but beautiful to watch. I felt like an intruder during that whole conversation, like I was seeing a person turned inside out on the side of a busy road, her vulnerability on full display. She was so very, very fortunate.

      I always need to keep slowing down and being present at the front, Kate. I struggle with it, as so many of us do, and it is too important not to put much of our focus there.

  11. Yes, and pay attention to your body. It may tell you things, like, get that weird mole checked out. It may be nothing, or….Turns out I have squamous cell carcinoma. Easy to take care of in the early stage. But now I must be vigilant for the rest of my life. Too much sun early in my life. Water under the bridge and all that. Point is—be present in your body, too.

    I’m glad both she and you are OK.

    1. Totally, Jilanne! Listening to our bods is crucial as well. I had a strange stint with vertigo for about a month last winter due to an inner ear infection, and was obviously humbled by the whole experience but also learned to really be patient with my body and cherish my health. Often we go, go, go and ignore our health throughout the hustle and bustle. So important to take care of our bods…it’s the only one we’ve got!

    1. Totally lucky! I can’t even imagine how she must have felt after the shock/adrenaline faded. It’s easy to forget how precious life is when we get wrapped up in the day-to-day.

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