To quote John Denver, “Some days are diamonds and some days are stones.” Monday was not a diamond. I had a doctor’s appointment in Winchester, and thought I would combine that trip with a stop at the hospital to visit a relative. Linda had a Loan Closet meeting at the library, so she said I should take the car, and she would drive the truck. Sounded like a good idea. She also told me to take the cell phone. I did that as well.
It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day. I was listening to a talk news program on the radio. I got through Front Royal and jumped on I-66 to run up to I-81. It is a little quicker that way, instead of going through Winchester. When you get on I-66, the speed limit is 70 miles per hour. I had just gotten settled in the right lane, had the cruise control set on 70, and was about half way to I-81. It was a pleasant ride so far.
Linda and I had our eyes checked last week, and the doctor told me how lucky I was to have such good distance and peripheral vision at my age. Still, I never saw it coming. The first thing I saw was the nose and head of a deer, just to the right of where a center hood ornament would be, if I had one. There was no time to do anything but hold on. The noise and impact were horrific. I was briefly aware of the deer hitting the windshield.
The car, a Subaru sedan, never altered its course. But I could hear scraping and mechanical noises and I eased onto the wide shoulder. I checked the rear view mirror and there was a white 18-wheeler behind me. I saw him put on his right turn signal, and he pulled in behind me.
The truck driver put his flashers on, and I did the same. I sat still for about a minute, gathering my composure, and trying to remember how lucky I was that I was apparently uninjured and the air bag had not deployed. I saw the truck driver getting out of his vehicle. I got out and walked around to the front of the car. There was water and oil or transmission fluid leaking out. There was extensive damage to the car.
The truck driver, a nice young man from a bit further down in the Shenandoah Valley, was driving for a company out of Stuarts Draft. He said he stopped because he saw the impact, and knew it was a hard one, and if my battery was on the right front of the car, sometimes a spark could start a fire, and he had two fire extinguishers on board. I thanked him for stopping and he offered to call the police. I asked him to do that, and to also tell them I would need a tow truck.
He and I chatted for about 15 minutes and I convinced him that I was OK and I knew he had a schedule to keep. I told him it was fine to leave. My rear flashers were working and I was well off the traveled surface. Just off in the ditch, some cattails were growing, and he got out his pocketknife and cut a few for his mom. Then he went on his way, with my thanks and blessing.
In another couple of minutes the VDOT safety patrol truck pulled in. This young fellow set out some red cones and raised the large, flashing sign mounted in the bed of his truck. We chatted for another few minutes and he called a wrecker truck. Then the state trooper pulled in.
He apologized for taking so long to get there, but said they were very short-handed that morning. He was another nice young man, who did his job very professionally, wrote his report, waited to make sure the tow truck was on its way, and departed, leaving me with a card and a report number for my insurance company.
The tow truck driver was a nice young fellow from Chester Gap, who had just become a father for the second time. He did his job quickly and safely, and transported me and the car to a repair shop in Front Royal.
This event was an aggravation, and I hate it and wish it hadn’t happened. But, except for a little stiffness the next morning, as I write this, I am OK. And my faith in humanity has been restored a bit by the nice young fellows who helped me out. Folks, it could have been a lot worse. And I am thankful that it wasn’t. Be careful out there.