A reporter’s nightmare

May 7, 2014
I kept repeating what my therapist had told me, “Take a deep slow breath and exhale while counting to three.” I was filled with every negative emotion; I felt anxious, weak, nauseous, fearful, overcome, helpless, terrified, and consumed. The two mile car ride from my grandparents house to the scene of the car accident felt more like twenty miles.
It started with a cell phone call from my editor Ed. He asked if I knew how to get to Bingham Town Cemetery Road. My reply, “What’s going on?” Ed told me that there was a bad head-on car collision with injuries on Highway 223, there were ambulances in route, and a car was on fire. A head-on accident such as this is always shocking to learn of, especially in your hometown; those involved and suffering from injuries may choose to rightly seek justice and pursue legal action against the negligent party at fault.
The house phone rings in 3, 2, 1…. I tell Ed I will cover it, start to grab my camera bag, and ask one of grandparents to drive me down close to the wreck and drop me off.
I heard my grandmother say, “Sallie has been in a car accident where?”

Sallie at my Sister’s wedding last fall

My heart sank, I knew where she was.
Working as a reporter for my hometown newspaper, I knew that eventually I would have to cover an event involving someone I knew. I just wasn’t emotionally prepared for this.
Time stopped for a second, and I froze out of fear. I couldn’t figure out what I needed to do. Everyone was talking but I heard nothing, and I kept repeating, “Not again.”
Five years ago this month, I received a phone call that changed my life forever. My cousin called to tell me that my brother Brandon had been murdered.
“Get in the car,” I screamed. My Grandfather looked at me with a baffled expression. I just yelled a little louder, “Take me to her.” He was completely oblivious to what happened, but obliged.
He said,”What do you think your gonna do when you get there? It isn’t like we can do anything.” I realized he had no clue what was going on. “I don’t know if Sallie is okay, a car was on fire and she was hit head on.” I tried to explain.
I felt his foot press the accelerator and we surged forward.

My son Gabe on the left, Sallie’s son Riley
on the right, taken the day after her accident

The only thing I knew to do was pray, but I couldn’t find the composure to coherently do that.

Thousands of memories flickered through my mind like a highlight reel. I had taken her to basketball games, helped to get her ready for prom, celebrated the birth of our son’s just two weeks apart, and every moment in between flooded my thoughts.

All I kept thinking was, “Please God let her be okay.”

Traffic was stopped on the two lane road just like I had presumed, and we couldn’t get near the accident. When my grandfather slowed down, I got out of the car and I ran.

The first thing I saw was a car still on fire, and people everywhere. Firefighters, police, and EMS were roaming the scene of the accident. I struggled to find someone I knew, and I was almost too terrified to look.

Most mom’s can recognize the sound of their own baby crying, well clearly I could recognize my cousin Sallie. It was a painful cry, but she was crying. Sallie was alive, and obviously hurting. I hated to see her hurt, but it was a relief.
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I cried, and I tried to catch my breath.

They were loading her on the backboard, and I got close enough to touch her shoulder. I said, “I love you and I am glad you are ok.”

Once I realized she was alive, I went to work. It was the only thing I could do. The scene of the accident made me realize how grateful I should be, it could have been a serious tragedy.

Sallie was flown from the hospital to a trauma center for a femur fracture.
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Everyone involved in the accident survived. A lot of people have told us that we might want to consider filing a personal injury case but for now we are focusing on Sallie’s recovery.

Some friends of ours who live in Illinois have a son who was recently involved in a similar situation and they have decided to take legal action against the other driver. The last time we spoke, they had reached out to a car accident attorney in Illinois and we are now waiting to hear back from whether or not their son might be entitled to any compensation. No matter what happens, I just hope justice is done.
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We still are unsure of what caused the accident, but I have a few pieces of advice applicable to any situation.

  • Wear your seat belt.
  • Slow down.
  • Don’t text and drive.
  • Hug your family and friends, and remind them you that you love them.

Life passes too quickly to be in a hurry, and it can end without notice.

This is one week that I wish I didn’t have photos on the front page of the newspaper.

Car accidents can have devastating consequences, but they can also take a huge toll on your finances. If you would like legal advice regarding how to go about filing for compensation to cover the expenses of a car accident, go to guajardomarks.com.

Happy Wise Wednesday,

One comment on “A reporter’s nightmare”

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