The memory of an enjoyable and fun lunch with co-workers seemed very distant only a couple minutes after exiting the Mexican restaurant where we ate to commemorate the July birthdays of several members on our staff. On a day that saw the heat index rise to 106 I was negotiating a right turn out of the restaurant parking lot onto the infamously busy and dangerous Highway 501 of Myrtle Beach. With the lunch traffic heavy I had to swivel my head left to right numerous times to make sure the coast was clear. About ready to step on the gas I looked to my left one final time.
“OH S@#$!!! OH S@#$!!!” I yelled while looking to the right passenger seat where our student worker, Alexandra, just realized what had happened.
I turned left just in time to see a large full size pickup towing a massive trailer plow right into the passenger side of a Honda CR-V. The violent sound that was produced upon collision was bested only by the violent way in which the truck latched into the CR-V and plowed it off the road and into the grass where it ripped up the turf. All that I could see in those first couple seconds after impact was a deployed airbag and an elderly man hunched over the steering wheel.
The collision that started about 50 feet from my vehicle was now only about 30 feet away. I shut off my car right at the stop sign and rushed over to the carnage. As I was going over the man in the pickup truck, who was unscathed, reached the crushed CR-V and opened the driver side door. The elderly man, an Air Force veteran, was still hunched over the steering wheel but conscious. He was withering in excruciating pain and was badly bloodied. People started coming from left and right to try to help.
The man who was the driver of the pickup truck said “I don’t want to move him, his knew is busted.”
A woman quickly responded “Don’t touch him.”
Within just a couple minutes a state trooper arrived. Not that he had many options himself but he was of little help. He just told everyone to stay calm and that paramedics would be there soon. By this time I would guess that 15 people were now spread out around the vehicles, including a noticeably shaken Alexandra. With the sirens now audible, the crowd just getting bigger, and the grim reality of the situation setting in I told Alexandra that we should go. With vehicles lining up behind my parked car we hopped in and made the trip back to campus as emergency vehicles zipped by us.
A co-worker asked the two of us if the authorities needed us as witnesses. I didn’t think so otherwise I would have stayed. So many people converged on the scene around the same time I did. Truth be told, I only looked left at the exact second that the brutal collision occurred. I never saw exactly what happened but my guess is that the CR-V pulled out in front of the truck while trying to make a left turn into one of the businesses.
I have witnessed other car accidents before and I have been in one myself but I had never seen one like that. The sound, the impact, the length of the contact, and the crushed vehicles made this one scary. Add in the serious state of the man on a brutally hot day and I can tell you that I won’t forget this one for a long time.
I can’t find anything online that says if the elderly man survived or not. But please say a prayer for him and for the man and his wife in the pickup truck. Cars are very dangerous machines, please remember to drive safe. Don’t Blink.