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Rolling Down The Highway

Rolling Down the Highway

It was a cold day to be traveling. I remember thinking that thought several times. However after two months of being away from home, I wasn’t minding the three thousand mile drive from Tennessee to Redding, CA. I was waking up from a short nap, when I first noticed the motor home in front of us. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. My mom and I were listening to music, singing at the top of our lungs… that was the last time I truly felt safe in a car.

The next thing I noticed was the motor home drifting into our lane. I remember my mom slamming on the brakes! The car then went into the left lane; my mom over corrected causing the car to go back to the right lane. The car hit the fence, hurdling towards the field alongside the highway. My mind went blank….

I slowly opened my eyes. It was just a dream, I thought. Suddenly I realized I was dangling in the air like a chew toy in a dog’s mouth. The car had rolled landing on the driver’s side. I tried undoing my seat belt, it wouldn’t release! I began to panic.

“Ashlin, are you okay?” Hearing my mother’s voice was a great comfort but I was still terrified.

“I’m going to undo your seat belt… okay?” I nodded. As she released the seat belt, I landed on her. Once I was able to stand I tried opening the passenger side door. I gulped back the fear, as I realized it was jammed. The adrenaline kicked in and that is when I saw the sunroof.

“Please open,” I prayed. As I pushed the button relief overtook me as the sunroof opened. Two men helped me crawl out of the car through the sunroof. After I was safely by the side of the highway, a woman in her twenties stayed with me, fellow travelers helped my mom out of the car. Thank the Lord, she’d lost enough weight to get out through the sunroof.

Twenty minutes later I was strapped to a backboard with a brace around my neck, being loaded into an ambulance. I felt comfort knowing my mom was in the ambulance with me but I was scared because she was on a backboard too. It was scary not being able to move, not knowing if something really bad was wrong with me. The neck brace was tight but at that point I wasn’t too concerned about it. The paramedic that was taking care of me was surprised at how calm I was. He even told me his own daughter wasn’t as brave as me. If he was in my mind he wouldn’t have said that. It was the longest “short” ride of my life.

When we finally made it to the hospital, the doctor attended to my mom first. They had to separate us while mom was getting x-rays. That was when I started to panic. Suddenly I started to notice the neck brace and backboard. I felt like the neck brace was squeezing the oxygen out of me. The doctor eventually came in and asked me if I was in pain. Being in shock and wanting out of the neck brace, I told him I wasn’t in pain. He decided I didn’t need x-rays. My mom and I were released within the hour.

The hospital had a system where people from a local church were on call to take accident victims to hotels until they could get proper transportation. The people from the program were an elderly man and his wife. To this day I haven’t met anyone as kind as they were. Our car accident had taken place on a county border. We were sent to Fort Stockton, Texas while our car was towed to Pecos, Texas. The good Samaritans were willing to drive us the seventy-five miles to Pecos.

My mom and I ended up staying four long days in Pecos, Texas. It was a ghost town where the only place that delivered to our hotel was Dairy Queen. When we finally saw our car we knew it was totaled. My mom and I transferred all of our things from our car to the rental car. As we drove away from our totaled car, I felt an intense sadness. That car had been a part of my life for four long years. I had watched my nieces grow from babies to toddlers in that car. The next day we headed on down the road. The next four days were hard for my mom and me but we kept on going until we made it home.

This next January will mark the second year anniversary of our car accident. I’m still dealing with anxiety every time I ride in a car. Some car rides are harder than others. I deeply regret not getting x-rays at the hospital because I’m currently in physical therapy for neck and back injuries caused by the accident. I can’t help but wonder if maybe I wouldn’t have as many neck and back issues if the doctor had taken the x-rays. I still can’t listen to the song that was playing in the car during the accident but I do listen to music in the car. Despite my anxiety, I’m going to learn how to drive soon. The best thing that came out of the car accident is that I learned how to deal with fear in a way I never knew how to before.





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