Yesterday on my lunch break, I witnessed a horrible accident. I was pulling up to a stop light when I heard a loud roar coming towards me. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a blue Subaru speeding towards me. The car was very loud and traveling very fast. Luckily, there was an empty parking lot to the right of me and I was able to pull in there quickly. I watched the blue Subaru erratically fly past me and then it collided with a street light, completely demolishing it. The car was still going so fast, it seemed like nothing would stop it. It barreled through 2 more poles, flipped and burst into flames. It finally came to a rest after hitting a tree and a house. It all happened so fast and yet it felt like I was watching this all unfold in slow motion.
I grabbed my cell phone to call 911 but I couldn’t seem to function. My hands were shaking terribly and it was as if I had forgotten how to use my phone. I finally made the call and explained what I had seen. The fire department and emergency crews had already been dispatched. I then had to call my boss to let her know I would be late getting back to work, but again, I couldn’t figure out how to use my phone. The man standing next to me asked me if I was ok. I told him I felt as if I was going to faint. There was smoke and dust filling the air. There was a woman hysterically talking to a police officer. Her vehicle was hit by debris and her window had been smashed into a million pieces. I had just witnessed a horrific tragedy.
But then, within minutes of the explosion, I saw people running towards the burning car with fire extinguishers. I witnessed a group of people frantically trying to get the man out of the car. A few random neighbors started directing traffic.
I looked around to see heroes determined to save this young man, running towards danger to help him out of the burning car. There was smoke everywhere. The 911 operator was on the phone with me, telling me to get the people away from the car, but it was no use. A group of about 20 bystanders were all rallying together, playing a part in saving this young man.
I gave the police officer my witness statement. It had just happened moments ago, and already the details were foggy in my mind. It was just a blur. How many times did the car roll? Was the stop light red or green? I just wasn’t sure and I told the officer that. I was still shaking and desperately trying to catch a glimpse of the driver, hoping to see movement. I looked over and saw him being lifted into the ambulance. He wasn’t moving. I still don’t know his condition.
Before I went back to work, I walked over to the woman who was still visibly upset. She was assessing the damage to her vehicle and speaking with officers. I asked her if she was going to be ok. We hugged each other and held on for about a minute, just embracing one another. She rubbed my back and said “I am so glad you are ok” and I told her the same. I never got her name.
Since yesterday, there have been several stories floating around about what really happened. Some say it was a seizure. Some say it was a young kid, showing off in his loud, sporty car. Some believe he was trying to take his own life. No matter what the case may be, I witnessed something that will haunt me forever. I pray that I never see another awful accident like that again. But I also witnessed love. Strangers coming together to save the life of someone they didn’t even know. Men and women taking charge of the situation in any way they could, to keep others safe from harm. And people who have never met, holding each other, comforting one another and offering all the support they could give in that moment. It was a terrifying experience that gave me so much hope.