Last night my 7-year-old son Isaac and I were driving home from his karate class, cracking silly jokes and making up goofy names for Star Wars characters (his favorite was “Luke Pottywalker”). Nearing a busy intersection, I slowed down, but the light was green so I kept going.
Another driver slams into us. He ran the red light and hit us hard on the driver’s side.
Glass is flying everywhere, my car is no longer under my control. My son yells. We stop moving, all I see is pieces of glass. And blood.
The blood is coming from my son. It’s pouring down his neck.
I hold his hand, tell him everything’s going to be fine, hoping he hears the calmness in my voice and doesn’t see the panic in my eyes.
I see the other driver take off. Sounds like he’s got a flat tire, but the son-of-a-bitch drives off anyway. And nobody is stopping to see if we’re hurt – they just keep driving, like it’s not their business, they don’t have time to get involved.
I dial 911. They put me on hold. Dammit, answer my call! They answer, and I tell them what happened as calmly as I can. I’m bounced around to three different call centers. This is taking too long!
A kind woman (I never got her name) appeared at my son’s window and asked him his age, where he goes to school, anything to soothe him while I talked with 911. Thank you, you made up for the heartless souls who kept driving instead of checking on us.
The paramedics and the police are on their way. I hold my son’s hand, and I’m humbled by his strength. He tells me he’s fine – scared, but fine. We talk until the ambulance arrives.
The paramedics carefully sweep the broken glass from Isaac’s hair, face, shoulders, man, it’s everywhere. They gently lift him out of the car and place him on a stretcher, and I escape through the passenger door. Holding his hand the whole time, I follow as he’s placed in the ambulance. They tell us he’s okay – there’s a lot of blood, but nothing life-threatening. The blood is mainly from a cut below his chin, which is deep and will need stitches.
On the way to the hospital, they tell us they found the other vehicle – it was abandoned a few blocks from the accident. They haven’t found the other driver yet, but they will. The bastard hurt my son and fled the scene, but I’m trying to swallow my anger and focus on what’s important right now.
My wife meets us at the hospital, and we wait in the emergency room for an hour, my son strapped to a back board in a gurney the whole time. He’s uncomfortable, but we’re told he needs to stay on the back board until the doctor sees him in case he has a neck or back injury. We play games like rock, paper, scissors while we wait.
At one point Isaac did a few expert armpit farts while a nurse was in the room, and I’m secretly proud of him for doing that.
The doctor arrives, checks him out, and says his neck and back appear fine but they want to run a CAT scan to be sure. In the meantime, my adrenaline rush has worn off, and I realize my neck and shoulders are really sore, so I ask to get a CAT scan myself just to be safe. They strap me onto a board just like the one my son is on, which he thinks is pretty funny.
It takes forever, but we’re told we’re okay. Glass falls off Isaac as he sits up, and the doctor starts the process of suturing the wound on his chin. I tell Isaac that the stitches won’t hurt, but they need to give him a shot to take away the pain. The shot is awful – they have to give it to him right in the wound, and Isaac is trying not to cry but I know it’s hurting more than anything in his life ever has. I give him my hand and tell him to squeeze it as hard as he wants, and the shot is finally over. The suturing is gruesome, but it’s painless for Isaac. Six quick stitches, and it’s done.
We finally leave the hospital, and the ride home was nerve-wracking for both Isaac and myself. We relive the accident every time we perceive a car getting too close, and he worries out loud about the window breaking again. We get home around 1AM, and sleep comes easier than any of us expected.
This morning I’m able to reflect on the accident, thankful that it wasn’t worse. The flying glass could’ve caused far graver injuries, and given that the other car slammed head-first into the driver’s side, I’m amazed that I’m not really hurt (I’m glad I bought a Volvo). And Isaac just woke up, and he’s happy – elated, in fact, because he gets to skip school today and play video games (something he’s normally only permitted to do on weekends).
So I guess we’re fine. Shaken, but fine. And now another day starts.