Celosa's breeder had invited us to a barbeque at her house today. She does this from time to time to let the puppies play together, and it's always a fun thing to watch. Since we're hoping to get another puppy from her when the next litter is born, we were looking forward to seeing all of the other pulik. Her house is out in Magnolia, and getting there takes a route I've driven a thousand times, because it's in the same direction as the ranch.
Graham and I and Celosa got into the car at maybe 12:30, to head out to the party. We were a little annoyed because the Studemont entrance to I-10 isn't open yet and we had to go around to Shepherd. But it was a relatively uneventful ride. Celosa was sitting on Graham's lap, and I was driving.
Right after we merged from 610 to 290, I got in to the third of four lanes, and we settled in for a ten mile ride to the exit for the breeder.
Three miles after we got onto 290, near Bingle, I saw a car heading my way very quickly in the rear view mirror. I was going about 60-70 miles an hour, and he was going much, much faster than me. And he was in my lane. I may have said "what the fuck?"
Right when I started to worry, I think the guy realized that he wouldn't be able to slow down without hitting me. So he swerved into the left lane, very quickly. Too quickly, it turns out. He hit the side barrier concrete wall, bounced off and started heading in my direction. I said "Jesus." I saw him hit the wall, and I started to get over to the right lane, but it was too late. He hit my left back fender, we felt this massive "bang", and I lost control.
I thought we'd spin out. I thought we'd be hit and fly across the highway. But for whatever reason, probably because my tires were headed right, we started to flip to the right. We kept going over and over and over. I think it was two and a half, maybe three and a half times.
And the whole time, I was screaming "oh my god! oh my god! oh my god!" Graham didn't say anything.
When the car stopped rolling, Graham was already out of the car. He said later that his military training kicked in immediately. I was asking about Celosa, and he kept saying, "She's gone. She's gone." And he kept telling me to get out of the car.
I was dangling from my seat belt, upside down. There was glass everywhere. And every item that had been in my car was scattered around. Instead of going out the driver's side window, I crawled to the back, still looking for Celosa. She wasn't anywhere around.
After we crawled out, we both ended up sitting next to the barricade, and by that point, people were getting out of their cars to help us. One guy was calling 911. Two women were back from a cruise and were nurses with some equipment in their car. Another lady was just there for comfort, and she gave amazing comfort. With our car and the other car, the entirety of 290 was blocked off. People tried to help us, but all we could say was "where's Celosa? Where's our dog?" And someone said, "I saw her, and she's ok." So we started freaking out some more, because we were both absolutely certain that they were lying to us to calm us down.
Our rescuers were trying to see if we were ok. They were asking us if we were hurt, and where, and they were trying to see how bad our head injuries were. My left arm was pretty torn up, and there was a lot of blood. Graham had blood on his head and his knee. We both had obviously hit our heads. But we were freaking out about Celosa, and our rescuers realized that unless someone went to find her, we'd be uncooperative.
At some point, I found my cell phone and started making calls. My brother wasn't answering. My sister wasn't answering. Finally, I found my mother, who is in Austin for the weekend with my dad. Apparently I was pretty incoherent, but I got the gyst of in very bad accident, flipped several times, I can't find Celosa to my mom. I think I forgot to mention that I was ok. Graham was still asking about Celsoa, at one point yelling, "I WANT MY DOG!"
And then, from between a row of a hundred parked cars, came Celosa with two people, pulling at her leash as hard as she could towards us. She jumped into my lap, and Graham and I hugged her and cried in her fur. There wasn't a scratch on her, not a shard of glass in her fur.
After that, we were pretty compliant with any requests. We asked one of our rescuers to take our camera and take pictures of the car. We tried to think about pain. One woman located my ipad down the street, shattered. We tried to call people closer to home, to tell them what was happening. But a good hunk of our friends are in Louisiana for a festival in Lafayette. And my siblings weren't answering.
I saw the other car. At least, I think it was the other car. A man was sitting in the driver's seat, somewhat dazed. Once it was clear that we were ok, I think some of our rescuers went to check in on him. I looked over at him, more with curiosity than anything else. I assumed he was the one that hit us, though I guess it's possible that someone else did and he was part of this crazy thing. He looked to be in shock, and I suppose he looked at us, but I don't know.
At points, I wanted to get up and gather stuff scattered on the freeway. Canvas bags we use for shopping, some rope, parts of a book I was reading. But I never asked because I was sure that people wouldn't let me get up, much less do something so trivial as cleaning up the highway.
Within ten minutes, the ambulance and a fire truck came, and they started checking us out. There was a brief discussion about Celsoa. It was pretty clear that we were both badly shaken up and needed to be checked out at the hospital. Apparently, it's against the law for a dog to be in an ambulance, and they started asking us if there was anyone who could come and get her. Since we were having trouble getting a hold of people, we said no. They started putting neck stabilizers on us. Graham wanted to make sure Celosa was ok, before agreeing to go anywhere, and he made it clear that he was willing to sit on the freeway with his dog instead of going to the hospital. The firemen conferred and agreed that she could go back to the firehouse with them until someone could come to pick her up.
They strapped Graham onto the board first, and then me. At some point, a cop came to ask us questions. I repeated everything as best I could remember, but I'm not sure I was that clear. At the same time, the paramedics were asking me questions about my health, where it hurt, etc. We were wheeled into the ambulance and we could hear Celosa crying. I forgot my keys in the car.
The neck brace and board are ridiculously uncomfortable. And you can't see anything but the roof of the ambulance. It took awhile to get organized enough to move. The cop asked me a few more questions about insurance and who we were and all that. The paramedic asked insurance information and demographics. Graham was on the phone with our friend Mother, arranging for Celosa's pickup. Claudia called back. My parents called back. Graham called his dad. There were a lot of other phone calls.
I think it took about 45 minutes to get to the hospital, and it felt horribly long. I was taken out first, and I was assigned to trauma. A doctor and a nurse took a look at me, and determined that I needed x-rays on my arm and shoulder. Graham was assigned to the next room. My brother and sister showed up, and they split time between the two rooms. They'd stopped by my house first to take videos of Celosa to show us she's ok. I showed them the pictures we had of the car. We all got to know the people in the ward with me fairly well. Our friends Dan and Charlotte came by and got information about the police investigation. Dan is a police officer, and he said he'd look into it more.
A nurse came in and cleaned my arm and wrapped it in bandages. It took awhile for them to take the x-rays, and Graham was discharged after maybe two hours or so. I had to wait for the radiologist to read the x-rays. And my arm started to hurt enough to take the vicodin I'd refused when I first came in. My brother and sister were asked to wait in the waiting room because two life flight helicopters had just come in and they needed a lot of room in the ER.
Graham and I waited some more. At some point, I went to the bathroom and saw my face and arm. The upper part of my left arm must have dragged in the road at some point. I have a bruise over my left eye that will be black soon. I have scrapes all up and down my left arm. My neck hurts, though I don't know if that was from the wreck or from an hour and change in that neck stabilizer. There's a mark on my chest from my seat belt. My x-rays came back negative, and after the several patients that had come in all at once were stabilized, I was discharged.
We got home around seven o'clock. Celosa and Zapata were delighted to see us. We hugged both of them, and Mother, who'd stayed with them. Jose got fajita take-out, and we ate dinner, finally hungry after a day without eating. I talked to Liv and my parents again. Claudia took me to the drug store to get my prescription filled, and everyone took off at around 10:00ish.
I can't believe we went through this and came away relatively unscathed. I mean, we both hurt, and we're both covered in bruises, but we're walking and talking and holy shit we're alive.
A lady who'd rolled her car came in to the ER shortly before we left. She'd rolled down an embankment, I think, and was thrown from her car. But for the throwing, the wreck sounded a lot like ours, and she was life flighted in and was in pretty bad shape. I'm certain we would have, too, if we hadn't crawled out of our wreck.
Seat belts, they work, bitches.
And Celsoa! It's a flat out miracle that she made it. I don't think we could have gone through that crash a million times without her dying or being in severe pain in all but one of them. This was the one. We think that she must have gone out in the first roll, being placed on the concrete and then having the car flip away from her. And the airbag never went off, so she didn't get killed by that. She ran away from the flipping car, and a man saw her running with a leash. He stopped her, picked her up, and put him in his car with him. And he called our cell phone when he read her collar. The people who went to look for her explained that she'd been in the wreck, and that we were looking for her. And she got to go with the firemen in their red shiny truck. Mother said she was outside and having a good time with some of the firemen when he picked her up. She played with Zapata as soon as she came home, probably boasting that she got to ride in a fire truck today.