Saturday, April 04, 2009

I had the scariest experience today. I was on my way to the dump, singing along with my music. When I got to the bottom of the hill, sitting at the lights, I lost my happy. The guy in front of me didn't seem to understand the concept of "green means go". We sat through the advance light, the main green light, a red light...and another cycle of green. Once the cars behind me started honking, I got out and stomped up to the guy in front of me. When he rolled down his window, I snapped "Is your car broke down? No? Then do you think you will be going soon?" and huffed back to my own car.
He finally went during the next green light, but instead of turning into the proper lane, he ended up going into oncoming traffic. For a second I thought "He's drunk". But when I thought about it, I realized I hadn't smelled any alcohol on him. And then I saw the kids. Three little boys, peering over the back seat at me. He swerved in front of me, and careening side to side, drove down the highway. Normally, I would have let it go. I would shake my head, and go my own way. But I could still see those boys, so I followed him. Thankfully he wasn't going fast, just swerving. Every time he went into the opposite lane I honked my horn, and he'd swerve back. I had my hazard lights on, and I was flashing my lights, hoping it would make him pull over. Mainly I didn't want him to run into anyone else, or go off the road into anything other than a snowbank.
After about fifteen minutes, I wondered if this guy was ever going to stop. The kids were still popping up and looking at me every once in awhile, and I noticed that the van behind me was keeping far back as well. Eventually, as we drove out of town, it dawned on me that we were leaving cell-phone range, and I don't have a phone. I pulled over, and flagged down a vehicle. They phoned 911 for me, and told the police all the details.
I really thought I was done. The police had been given the information, and the dangerous driver was out of town now. But then I started thinking about those little boys, going off the road with an unsafe driver, in the snow. So I pulled back out onto the highway.
When I caught up to the swerving car, he was just going into the ditch. The van that had been behind me was now tailing him, and had also called 911. We ran over and pulled the boys out of the car, and tried to talk to the driver, but he was totally unresponsive. Awake, but not speaking or acknowledging us. We took the boys to the family van, out of the wind, where the mom from the van kept them entertained. The husband and I went back to the car in the ditch. We still couldn't get the guy to speak to us, but we both alcohol smell. No sign of drinking, other than the driving. We couldn't convince the driver to get out of the car. Eventually, we caught a break. The oldest child (I would guess 9) mentioned that his dad needed to eat. Turns out, the driver is a diabetic. I had some candy mints in the car. I had to actually pry his mouth open, and put the mints in, but he ate them after a minute.
By the time the police arrived (small town proof: the cop was my neighbor/a co-worker's husband!) the driver was out of the car, and standing upright. He still wasn't speaking, but he looked much better. The officer went through his wallet and found a medical card, listing him as a type 1 diabetic. What I assumed was drunken driving was actually insulin shock.
I was still shaking when I finally headed back towards town. I was so scared that I was going to see those children in a really bad accident. None of them were in seatbelts. They kept looking back at me, and I felt totally helpless.
A twenty minute errand became a 90 minute trip, but it was worth it to make sure things ended well.
I hugged my babies when I got home.


Anonymous said...

How scarey for you and how wonderful of you!! It makes me stop and think that one person actually does make a difference.

Fawn said...

Bless you, AM! I'm sure you didn't write this post for the accolades, but you do deserve them. I wonder how that dad is going to feel about driving once he's processed the whole ordeal. Thank God no one was hurt.

WackyMummy said...

Wow. Good job following your gut and helping out. It's hard to recognize those sorts of situations, but thank goodness there are people like you and the van driver out there to help. I doubt I would have had the perspecacity to do the same. :)

Kitty said...

OMG how awful for that family, and how lucky they were that you were there. Too many people these days would have just let it go thinking that the other driver was just an ass.

I had a similar incident a few years ago with another driver who was obviously falling asleep at the wheel but still insisted on doing 80mph down the middle lane of the motorway. I pulled over to report him to the police, but I've no idea if they ever caught up with him. It was just him in the car, but he could have easily caused a huge accident.

Matt, Kara and Hunter said...

What a scary situation! Glad you were there to help out.

Gen said...

I'll think about your experience if I'm ever witness to such a driver. Thanks for writing about it.

MaryP said...

So glad it ended well! Many people would have shrugged him off as a drunk or stoned. Many more would have considered it done when they called the police. It's quite possible that by hanging in there you helped prevent a tragedy.

And if that doesn't leave you a little shakey, I don't know what would.

SSTyrner said...

My goodness that was some high drama excitement!
I think you did all the right things. Good job following through, Average Mom!
I'm so glad no one was hurt.
The world is a better place because good people like you were there to help those kids and their father.

MorahMommy said...

Wow, I have chills reading this.

You should be proud of yourself. In this day and age, most people would comment to each other, but would not do anything about it. That man and children were very lucky.

Thank goodness nobody was hurt.

Anonymous said...

wow. I'm so glad you followed your gut! I imagine the driver was "locked" inside his body and thought he was in a normal state. You were at that place at that time for a reason!