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Snow Day

February 9, 2010

After the last two posts, I had some facts that I wanted to clarify. I have been mulling over what to say and how. But that will have to wait. Something else has come up worthy of mention.

On my way to meet with my financial planner this morning, I lost control of my vehicle and ended up in a ditch. Don’t worry, I’m fine.

Heres’ how it happened. When I got up this morning it was snowing. A storm that has come up from the central US and is slamming this region quite hard. We’re expected to get up to 10 inches of snow. I am not averse to driving in snow. In fact I like it. As long as everyone does what they need to do, we’ll all be fine. Or so I thought.

With only a few inches on the ground when I left, I thought it would no problem. I noticed early on that there had not yet been any plows or salters out on the roads I was travelling. Things were slippery. I adjusted my speed accordingly and my distance between me and others on the road.

Then I got to this curve. I noted with an arrow the direction I was traveling, and I circled the area where I lost control.

As I rounded the curve, right at the intersection, there was a truck in the oncoming lane. The road was snow covered and it was hard to tell where the lanes were. I adjusted a bit to make sure I was giving him enough room. And that was it, that minor adjustment caused the van to start sliding. I tried to correct ever so slightly, and I managed to redirect it a bit. The truck driver noticed me sliding and tried to adjust as well, which caused him to lose control also.   We managed to miss each other.  At that point, with everything in slow motion, I started the work of trying to keep my van on the road. It seemed like I had several attempts at adjusting and readjusting, but in the end, there was no stopping it. All I could do was brace for the inevitable. I remember uttering the words  “oh F#$k!” as I saw myself headed sideways into the ditch.

Here are some street view shots from Google:

The first image is view in the direction I was headed. I was on the right, the truck was coming towards me on the left. I know this is a summer shot, imagine it’s snowing hard and the road is covered with snow. I ended up near that tree on the right, facing the wrong way.

These last two are looking back from where I came, with some lines I drew in to help. The box in the ditch, is where I ended up, with the front of my van facing away from the road.

I know the ditch doesn’t look like much, and it isn’t, but it was enough that the front and back ends of my van were hung up causing the wheels to not have any traction. I was stuck there.

After trying to back out without any luck, I shut off the engine and tried to think what I should do. My first instinct was to call my financial planner to tell him I would be late. I stared at my phone, not sure how to dial it. I paused to look around. Nobody was coming to help. The truck had managed to not go off the road and had gone on his merry way.  Other cars drove past me slowly, but nobody came to check on me. Luckily I was right in front a school. A couple of guys were out front talking and had seen me spin out. They came over to see how I was. They noticed the wheelchair and asked if they could help me get out of the van. Unfortunately,  my side door would not open and so the ramp could not be lowered. I thanked them, and told them I would call the auto club. After making sure I was ok and that I had a phone, they reluctantly headed to class.

I called Kelly first. I hated having to do so. I didn’t want her to worry, but I was scared. What if I was stuck there for while? What if I got cold or if my cell phone battery died or I got hungry or thirsty or got attacked by a band of roving rabid penguins? Whatever, I just wanted her to come be with me.  I reassured her that I was fine, and she said she would be there shortly.

The woman at the auto club said I should call the police and fire to help get me out, and that they could not attend until emergency personnel were on scene. I asked her to call them and then waited. I started shaking and sweating at that point. Not knowing if it was the adrenalin or the caffeine from my coffee, I busied myself with tidying up the inside of my van. After all, if it’s going to the shop, it should look presentable eh? It made sense to me at the time and kept me occupied.

The fire department was on scene first.  They assessed the situation and decided the quickest and easiest thing to do was to try pushing the van out. Several of them got in front and with a few tries, I was able to back out several feet before getting stuck again. But that gave me enough traction for them to direct me froward and then up and out to the side, where the driveway is.

I was in the driveway when the police arrived. I was able to open the side door and get out. The firemen were able to detach my ground effect.  It had come off but does not appear damaged. They unscrewed it for me and put it in the back. The Police officer made sure I was ok and took down the necessary information.  By then Kelly had arrived. She waited for the officer and the firemen to leave before coming over to give me hug and a kiss.

My van was drivable so we drove to my financial planners office, a few short blocks away. We talked in my van for a while, so I could debrief and decompress a bit.  Despite not having had breakfast yet, Kelly waited until I was done with my planner and followed me home.

It’s still snowing out. Looks like it will indeed snow all night. I am not going anywhere for a day or so. I’m sore. I don’t recall how hard the jolt was when I ground to a halt.  That part of the event is a blur. I just remember it starting and then being over. Did I close my eyes? I don’t know. Maybe.

Was I going to fast? I didn’t think so but obviously and in hindsight, yes. I think I was only going 40km/hr (25mph), but clearly that was still too fast. Did I mistakenly brake, a big no no when you’re skidding, making any hope of recovery vanish? I don’t think so, but it’s possible. It’s seems at one point I quickly lost all hope of recovery, but I don’t remember what I did wrong to cause it. Maybe I never really had any hope once it started. At least I avoided the truck.

Right now I am just counting my blessings. This is nothing. I wasn’t hurt. Nobody else was hurt. Damage to my van is likely around $1500 give or take $2000. Sure, it’s more than I afford right now.  But it could have been so much worse. I’m home. I’m safe. And I’m able to blog about it.  Certainly nothing to complain about.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2010 8:16 pm

    Phew. I hope you recover readily and all damage is minimal. Keep warm!

  2. February 9, 2010 11:12 pm

    oh my gosh – so scary. I am so glad that you are okay. Chaste hugs from me!

  3. February 10, 2010 12:29 am

    Wow, you were very, very fortunate to be okay after all of that, Sylvain! I’m glad that all is well and the only bad part is monetary. You are a fortunate man! Blessings, O

  4. Carmen permalink
    February 10, 2010 6:50 am

    I’m happy that you are okay and that you got help before the penguins came… 😉

  5. February 10, 2010 12:01 pm

    ((((((((((((((((((((((((HUGS FROM ME)))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

    So glad you are okay.
    So sorry this happened.
    Do be careful…of course you will be…it could have happened to anyone….darn snow!

  6. February 11, 2010 3:53 pm

    Ouch !
    Glad you’re ok after that, could have been so much worse.

  7. kittykillkill permalink
    February 13, 2010 10:32 am

    I am glad you are okay. What a scary situation nonetheless.

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