Kind of freaks me out looking at the crash scene photo below, plus gives me much gratitude at the same time. Why? It’s a reminder of how close of a call that was for my daughter and I, and reminds me to make the most of each and every moment.
Yep! That Audi Q7 sacrificed itself for us, and we amazingly walked away from a horrendous pre-sunrise accident en route to Palm Beach International airport for my 15 year old daughter to return home to NY from her amazing Spring Break vacation with me in Florida.
Ironically she and I were talking about how driving is the most dangerous thing we do as humans, as we headed North on I-95 towards the airport at 5:45am, to catch her early flight; which she wasn’t even supposed to be on.
You see, I already hugged and kissed her goodby the evening prior and watched her board her original flight in Ft. Lauderdale on her way home to NY, then Wanda and I went to a comedy show at the new Hard Rock guitar shaped hotel.
Half way through the comedy show I get a text from her, “Daddy! They had us all exit the plane. They told us another plane was coming, but they just announced that isn’t happening and the flight is canceled.”
Had a couple back and forth emails with her, then she said that airline would be refunding my money for that flight and I had to book another one. Odd, I thought, but Ok, I was on it.
I told Wanda what was going on, and told her I was going to find a flight for tomorrow on another airline, which I did, leaving at 7:20am the next morning but out of PBI not FLL. All good. Problem solved!
That evening I set my alarm for 5:30 am so she and I could depart for the airport by 6am, but when I went to wake her up at 5:30, she to my surprise was already awake and ready to go, so I got ready and we left earlier than anticipated at 6:45am for PBI.
Less than 15 minutes of leaving the house heading North on I-95 prior to the Linton exit at Delray Beach, the highway is unusually empty, and as we are driving down the middle lane (2 lanes to our left and 2 to our right) I see a man on the side of the highway jumping up and down waving his arms and notice he has his cell phone flashlight on as he’s doing so.
In my mind, I wonder what the heck is going on as I glance at him to the side of the road on the right shoulder, and as I am thinking that…BLAM!!!!
My daughter and I hit something in the middle lane of the highway at 65mph, without seeing it or any signs of it at all.
My mind immediately registers as the airbags deploy and we come to a spinning stop before I know what is going on fully, “Aha! THAT (whatever it was we just hit) is what he was waving his phone and arms about.
My next thought was, “My guess is that if he was on the side of the road, fortunately and hopefully no one was inside of whatever we just hit.”
At this time the Q7 had spun 180 degrees to a stop and the front of the vehicle is demolished. I knew immediately it was totaled, but that was the least of my concerns.
My 1st concern was, is my daughter alright. I look over than thankfully I don’t see any blood or signs of anything broken, and I ask her. “Are you alright? Do you feel any pain? Can you move?” She was shaken, said her shoulder hurt but that she could move.
I said, “We have to get out of here and to the side of the road before someone else comes along and hits us.” She went to open her door and I said sternly, “Don’t open that door! Look, we’re facing oncoming traffic and we don’t want to get run over on the way to the side of the road. Can you climb over to my side?”
She said yees, and did. We exited my drivers side door which was closest to the side of the road now, and thankfully were able to run to the side of the road without getting squashed by a car that wouldn’t see us or expect anyone in the highway at that time.
This all happened VERY quickly. Amazingly the police were also on the scene in minutes, which made sense once we figured out what the heck we just hit and why it was sitting there with no lights on in the middle of the highway.
Little did we know, a few minutes prior to us hitting that Toyota Tacoma in the middle of the highway, that it had rear ended someone (in that middle lane of the highway) and it’s airbags deployed, PLUS the car it hit fled the scene.
What we also weren’t aware of, and confused me as to, “Ok! So why did you not get the truck off the road?” As I thought this guy was literally the dumbest person on the planet, but later found out he wasn’t.
Here’s why, and what I found out the next day. When a Toyota airbag is deployed it turns off all electric to prevent fires. In doing so though, it leaves the vehicle unable to start OR turn on a blinker or flashers.
So this man, tried to move the truck and was unable to. Tried to turn on the flashers and was unable to. in this unique situation (pre-sunrise, very little traffic at all, and the vehicle he rear-ended fleeing the scene) it left this 4 door Toyota Tacoma a ghost death trap waiting for the unfortunate vehicle traveling in that lane at that time, which was us…thankfully. (will explain why I said, “thankfully,” shortly)
The police said that had we been in a car, it would have been a tragedy/fatality for my daughter and I no doubt. They sadly have seen scenarios like this before. He said thankfully we were in a larger, solid SUV, like the Q7, which allowed us to walk away.
That is why I said, “Thankfully it was us.” Had another family in a car been heading to the airport like we were, and similarly had not seen that ghost vehicle and hit it, it would have been an absolute tragedy. And had we left at the intended time, chances are high we would’ve driven past that potential tragic accident.
It all happened exactly as it was supposed to happen. How do I know? Because it happened.
From her flight being canceled the day prior, to us leaving early, to us being in that same middle lane the truck was left in, all of it.
And thankfully the story versus being a tragic situation, allowed both she and I to walk away from it without any damage that required hospitalization or severe medical attention.
It also gave my daughter and I another day to spend together discussing all of this and coming to terms with the fact that we were happy it happened to us in this manner than someone else is a smaller vehicle, that could have been tragic.
Many, many amazing discussions and life lessons came from that for both her and I.
One of the main lessons was, this journey we call life is brief, regardless of how long we actually make it. All can be going amazingly and all can change in the blink of an eye. Key is to be continuously present, grateful, and progressing towards your dreams and goals.
Where am I now? Where am I wanting to go, be, do, have? What’s mine to do now? Do it! Then, What’s next? Do that. Rinse and repeat.
I’m thankful to still be here. This email is the first of several I am intending on sending you, with the goal of passing along some insights I’ve gained during this past, unusual year we have all lived through, plus this recent near death experience my daughter and I had on Easter morning.
More to come. Stay present, focused, safe, and tuned. 🙂
Make Today Great!
PS – How are you? Hope all is well. Leave some comments for me, and fill me in on how you are doing at my YouTube channel where I’ve posted some videos there since this crash: http://tombeal.com