On Trauma and Being of Service

I have one more story to tell you about hubs’ and my recent trip to Maine. It’s taken me a while to process it.

A week before our trip, hubs and I were in a wreck. I told you about it here. What I didn’t tell you was that neither the car to our left nor the car behind us stayed at the scene to provide an eye-witness account. Maybe they were in a hurry. Maybe they didn’t want to get involved. Hubs and I talked about this and we decided that if either of us ever witnesses a wreck in process, we need to stay on the scene, give an account and help the victims if we can. Fast forward to the following Saturday…

We had landed and were traveling on a two-lane highway from Portland to our destination in Bar Harbor. We found ourselves behind an impaired driver. In less than two miles she barely missed running into the guard rail, then crossed the center lane into oncoming traffic before correcting. When she repeated this a second time, we knew without a doubt something terrible was about to happen. Just as I was grabbing my phone to call 911 we watched in horror as she crossed the center lane in front of an 18-wheeler. The truck driver swerved and barely missed being hit. The driver of a van behind him had no time to react and nowhere to go. We watched in horror as the impaired driver hit the van head-on.

Hubs and I, along with several others, stopped to help. The impaired driver died instantly. Everyone on the scene turned our attention to the people in the van. Someone was able to open the front passenger door and help a lady out. The other three passengers were trapped. I and another lady talked to the driver in an effort to keep her awake. She was badly injured and told us she couldn’t talk because it made her ribs move. Side curtain airbags obstructed my view of the back seat. When I learned there were two more people in the van I moved to the back and talked to them through the back window, which had been blown out from the impact. I felt helpless. I told them that there were a lot of people on the scene supporting them and none of us were going to leave them. I told them that the firemen and paramedics were on their way. I tried to be as encouraging as I knew how to be.

Once the fireman arrived, hubs and I waited by our car. We had earlier told the Sheriff we would stay on the scene until he was ready for us to provide an account. While waiting we witnessed the firemen using the Jaws of Life and a Life Flight helicopter landing about 50 yards from our car. It was a traumatic scene I will never forget. Sadly, the local newspaper reported that one of the men I tried to keep calm died a few hours later at the medical center. I felt sadness as if I’d known him.

As I stated earlier, it’s taken me a while to process this. The scene was horrible. I had a hard time watching people in pain when there was nothing I could do to alleviate their suffering. I was also filled with renewed gratitude that hubs and I were not hurt in the wreck we were in the week prior. I continue to wonder about the three survivors. The driver appeared to be badly injured.

I know in my heart hubs and I would have remained on the scene without having gone through our own wreck. But it isn’t lost on me that one week after no one stayed for us, we were placed in a position of being of service to others who were in a similar yet much more serious situation.

I hope I’ll always opt for being of service.



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2 Responses to On Trauma and Being of Service

  1. Rebekah Hayes says:

    Such a moving story! I’ve thought of it frequently since you first told it to me. I admire you & your hubs’ strength and dedication to be there for those innocent victims.

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