Sitting at Starbucks, I had finished uploading yesterday’s photo and was in the midst of my morning news reading routine when my phone rang. It was around 6:30 am and from a number not listed in my phone. I would typically ignore the call, but it was a local number, so I answered.
“Dad, I was in a really bad accident. Nobody was hurt, and it was just my car involved, and my friends are here with me, but I was wondering if you could come here?” The voice on the other end of the phone sounded like my 21-year-old son, so I asked, “Where are you?” In my mind, I knew I needed to be home in a few minutes to wake up the 15-year-old, and my eldest son could have been anywhere in West Los Angeles, an hour from where I was at least. As a parent, my brain was already planning how to cover things at home, since my wife was in Indianapolis.
“I’m on Haskell.” Now I was confused. What was he doing on Haskell, just minutes from our house? Then the caffeine kicked in. This voice is your 16-year-old on his way to the weight room.
I told him I was on my way and he reassured me he was ok. Since I wasn’t sure what a “really bad accident” means to a new driver, I headed out not expecting to find what I found. As I drove, I was planning how I “should” react. He was driving alone, so it was clearly his fault. Of course, I was happy he was safe, but I was not happy he had caused an accident and wondering how much damage the car sustained, and how much it would cost to fix it.
None of that mattered when I arrived. The scene was not what I expected. His football buddies surrounded him. They had stopped as they were also on their way to the weight room. As I walked through the mess, the two adults who were there to help, Kim and Bubba, said, “You have one lucky boy.” All I could do by the time I reached him was hug him and tell him I loved him.
According to Kim, the Saugus mom who witnessed it, his car flipped after hitting the curb, and she said, “I immediately thought I was going to need to go into emergency mode.” But she didn’t. He crawled out of the passenger seat window by the time she pulled around and got back to the car.
He had made himself a protein shake to drink and was holding it with his right hand to keep it from spilling as he drove. His seat belt was a little tight, so he let go of the shake to adjust the seat belt with his left hand. As he did that, the shake began to spill, and he did what I’ve done many times in the past, instinctively reached to keep it from spilling all over the inside of the car. That’s what caused the car to veer as it was coming out of a slight left-hand curve and hit the curb, narrowly missing a concrete light pole before striking and splitting a tree, cutting it in half and sending the car airborne into the fence protecting a local park. It hit another tree, flipped on its side and then back on its wheels as it slid off the curb onto the road, dragging the second tree with it.
The paramedics who showed up were shocked they weren’t needed, based on the description they received in the 911 call. And the Sherrif who came said, “He should buy himself a lottery ticket today.” My bet was that his luck for the day had been used up.
I spent much of yesterday thinking, “you almost lost a son today.” If he had nine lives, he only has eight left this morning. And sitting here again at Starbucks, I am very, very thankful.
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