It was 4 p.m. on August 11, 2007; I was driving home to Santa Rosa after visiting my future college, Cal Poly, in San Luis Obispo. I was in Daly City, just outside of San Francisco, when I became hungry. I decided to get off the freeway and grab something to eat before I arrived in the city. That decision changed my life.
I was merging off Highway 280, and I failed to check my blind spot. I did not see the little tan truck to my right until it was too late. I tried to correct myself, but I was in my SUV, a 2001 Mitsubishi Montero, and unfortunately, instead of correcting, I overcorrected. My SUV lost control, skidded and rolled. It rolled four times, according to witnesses, though I can only remember twice. I hit my face on the steering wheel, broke my nose, bruised my foot, and had a gash on my elbow through which my joint and the bone were visible. It was full of gravel and bleeding profusely. There was glass everywhere. Fortunately, no other vehicles were involved, and my SUV landed on its wheels instead of on its side or upside down. Somehow, I was able to put the car in park, unbuckle myself, and get out on my own.
When I slid out of the car, I was bleeding from my nose, my elbow, and various cuts all over my face and body. I was disoriented, confused, and scared. When I looked around, though, I was surprised and awed to see concerned faces checking that I was all right. One older woman gave me her over-sized jean jacket because I was shivering from the cold and shock. An off-duty EMT wrapped my elbow in a shirt he literally took off his back. Someone made me lay down on a blanket and stay still, in case my neck or back was compromised. An off-duty fireman directed the flow of traffic around my totaled car and told other people not to stop: there were plenty of bystanders on the scene as it was. A young woman kept me conscious by talking to me and asking me questions. She used her cell phone to call my mom. She described the situation and explained to my mom that I was going to be okay, and that I was going to the emergency room at San Francisco General Hospital. And someone must have called 911 because an ambulance was there within minutes to take me away.
At the time, I was too distracted to fully appreciate the compassion of the strangers that came to my rescue. If it wasn’t for them, I do not know what would have happened to me. The woman never got her jean jacket back. The man did not blink an eye at his t-shirt, which was soaked with blood within minutes. It is one thing when strangers stop to gawk at a car accident, and I am sure some people did that after my accident, but it is quite another for them to get involved and make sure the 18-year-old girl, whom none of them knew, would be okay. The physical reminder of this day is the scar on my elbow, but the emotional reminder is the good that came from this dreadful event. It helped me believe in the kindness of strangers in the face of adversity.
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