Friday, December 7, 2007

Bus Crash

Hi all, Happy Pearl Harbor Day! Okay, maybe the word "happy" is a bit much. Maybe "Contemplate" Pearl Harbor Day is better?

I always remember this day. I was in a horrific school bus accident on this day in 1990. I was a senior. Yes, a senior. and before you say "You geek, what senior rides the school bus?" I'll stop you and tell you that on this particular day, my ride was unable to take me home.

I was sitting about 8 rows back on the left hand side of the bus and rocking out to Depeche Mode on my yellow Sony Walkman. Completely ignoring everything around me. I don't remember the song. I'm thinking it was probably something off of "Violator", probably "World in My Eyes" or "Clean".

It was the end of the bus route and since I lived the farthest out, I was one of the last to be dropped off. I remember those bus rides feeling like hours. There were about 10 students still on the bus including my cousins who lived about 2 miles from my house on a farm.

As we approached the intersection near their house (the intersection was a yellow blinking light for us and a red blinking light for the cross traffic) I noticed a pick up truck approaching us quickly from outside my window on the left side. I knew immediately that it was not going to stop. My brain instantly calculated its point of impact as right where I was sitting. Panicked, I stood up (where I was going to go I had no idea). Then,


I was thrown across the bus aisle into the seat on the right side of the bus.

We were in the air.

For a brief moment it was silent.

Then a second CRASH!!! The telephone pole on the opposite side of the street came crashing in the window in front of me, broken in half.

The bus spun for a moment and then stopped. Its rear end up in the air facing into the field. I was stunned. I looked down on my lap. Drip, drip, GUSH! Blood began to pour out of my head and into the cupped hands in front of me. I screamed, afraid of what my injury might be. I looked around. Everyone was stunned. Some kids were already moving toward the emergency door. My cousin bolted out of the front of the bus (her shoes had fallen off in the impact) and she ran to her house. Another girl was knocked out and slumped over the seat. My other cousin was on the ground outside, he had been thrown through the window and onto the field.

I walked to the back of the bus, blood burning my eyes. It was hard to see. I could see the pick up that hit us. It was to my right, about 75 feet up the street. mangled and engulfed in flames. Some workers, who had heard the impact, were running across the field. They helped me off the bus.

I passed out in the mud.

A few minutes later I woke up to sirens and people milling about. I could hear the roar of the "Jaws of Life" as they attempted to free the driver from his truck. They held a white sheet in front of it as they worked. It was too late. Someone was holding my head to stop the bleeding, it was my Aunt. I saw my Principal. That was weird.

All I could think about was what my parents were doing and where they were. My Dad who worked for the Electric Company and who was a Lineman, heard the accident on the radio. He headed for the hospital to await my arrival. My Mom was called at work. She did the same.

When I arrived at the hospital, they put about 20 stitches in my head and had to sew my right ear back on. It was almost completely severed from the impact.

Surprisingly, all the kids survived. The worst was the girl passed out over the seat. She had broken her pelvic bone, broken her ribs, and punctured her lung. My cousin who was thrown had a large cut down his scalp and was airlifted to Cooper Hospital. He was okay.

But the driver of the truck was killed instantly. Turns out he was hauling a two ton asphalt roller that catapulted up the street upon impact with the bus, taking the truck with it. Luckily the roller missed the bus.

He was on his way home from work.

That night when I got home, I wasn't allowed to go to sleep for fear that I would slip into a coma. My Mom stayed up with me and woke me if I started to pass out. I got to stay out of school for a week which was cool I guess. My head was shaved in the front, so I wore a bandanna for a while.

A few days later my Dad wanted to go see the bus at the bus lot. I didn't want to go at first but he insisted. "It'll be cool." he said "You'll see." (He's twisted in a fun kind-of way) So I went.

At first the bus looked undamaged until we got up close. In reality it was bent like a kidney bean. I walked to the left side and saw the impact site. It was right under the window where I was seated. Because buses sit higher off the ground, it appeared that the pick up had first gone right under the bus, severing the cab.

I walked inside.

MY WALKMAN! It was sitting on the ground. Play stopped somewhere mid-synth ballad. The earphones snapped in half. It still worked.

I looked in the seat where I landed. My blood was everywhere. On the seat, the back of the seat in front of it, the floor, everywhere. The trail lead to the back of the bus. The moments frozen in time.

"That's it Dad, can we go home?" And we did.