The car accident in front of us

It was Adrienne and my wife and myself going up the 880 on our way to wine country in the rain. It wasn’t a heavy downpour, but not a mere sprinkle either. My wife was driving.

Now, Californians don’t know how to handle rain. Not in the slightest. There’s some of us who moved in from far more severe climates and we see it as just a bit of rain. Not a thunderstorm, not a blizzard, not even a severe downpour. But there are others who moved in from even dryer climates. And then there’s natives, who only see a few months of rain out of the year.

Anyway, my wife’s got the best reflexes, having sharpened her fangs by taking too many rush-hour 880 commutes. So it’s a good thing she was behind the wheel.

We saw a silver Ford F-150 driving ahead and maybe two lanes over. My wife pays attention while she drives, so she was quite aware of how it tried to change lanes and then swerved. I noticed it when the rear wheels came loose and it started to spin out. And there it went, across several lanes of traffic, smacking into the center divider facing the wrong way.

I watched this play out, pretty much like the movie screens. And, because it’s too annoying to actually adjust the seats to make up for over a foot of height difference, I’m actually quite used to my wife’s driving and didn’t try to tell her what to do. I think I just said “whoa” a bunch of times. And, to the credit of my wife and the car between us and the F-150, the only thing the F-150 driver did was hurt themselves.

I called 911 to report it and followed on the CHP incident feed… and then the CHP called us back because they wanted a statement because we watched the whole thing unfold in front of us. Which, I might add, seemed to make their life a bit easier because the driver wasn’t giving an especially useful statement and the dispatcher said they figured it was entirely the driver’s fault for a number of reasons.

It looked it too. Nothing else touched the car the entire spinout. And a good fishtail is usually something that just requires a certain calm disposition to react to and just gets worse if you freak out.

Apparently they were quite happy because many times they have to try and piece together what happened without the benefit of a witness. And, knowing what I know about how memory works, it’s awfully good that they took a statement right then and there from us over the phone because I know I’d probably forget and/or mis-remember things if they’d called me up a few days later.

This is the second time, by the way, that we’ve had something like this happen on the way to wine country. The previous time, I was driving, and there was a big pileup because a driver lost consciousness while driving and just pile-drivered a good sized accident. And I’m still paranoid about the last one. I slow down well before I see a block of stopped cars ahead because that’s why we just watched the whole accident unfold in front of us the last time.

Otherwise, the trip was fun and educational and caused me to gain weight.