Saturday, February 07, 2009

None as Scary as This

There once was a time when I had quite the reputation. I was young, fiercely independent, over confident, and inexperienced. All dangerous qualities for someone behind the wheel of a car. 

In high school and college I had many car accidents. No one ever got hurt, but I did put many a ding and bend in several cars. The accidents, though not major, were frequent enough that I spent a good deal of time on high risk insurance. I also spent several months of college without a car when my parents wisely decided that I was not responsible enough to keep my car. Yes, I had a lot of accidents a long time ago, but none were as scary as the one that happened on Wednesday. 

We've had a crazy winter here. Lots of snow, and lots of ice. Those of you who are acquainted with our driveway, may think that it is a little crazy without snow or ice. Wednesday afternoon I had an appointment. I planned to take the kids with me, and drop them off at Tim's office during the appointment. We were all ready, and loaded in the vehicle, and headed out the driveway. 

We do have an alternate driveway that we can use during bad weather. It runs through the neighbors property, and involves opening and closing two gates in the pasture. There was still snow and ice on the ground, but I didn't even think about using the alternate driveway. I had taken our driveway up to the neighbors barn earlier that day in my "farm" van. No problems. 

I headed out the drive in the "family" van.  Apparently, the farm van has much better tires, and the family van could use a couple new ones. I got to the first hill. I got about three quarters up it. My tires were spinning. My first thought was that I hadn't taken a good enough run for the hill. 
It has happened before, and I could simply back down and give it another run. That was my plan. My plan didn't work out so well. 

I put on the brake to change gears. Before I even got the gear changed the van started sliding; backward. And it was sliding to the wrong side of the driveway. The side that drops off down the hollow. 

In hindsight, I realize that had I let off the brake I may have been able to stop the slide and regain control. It happened so fast, and the kids were in the car. All I wanted to do was stop. What do you do when you want to stop? You push the brake with all your might. It was instinctive. The brain didn't have a chance to over ride with logic. 

In the rear view mirror I saw the back of the van go over the edge, and then we stopped. The van was still in drive. My foot was still firmly placed on the brake. 

The three youngest kids really didn't understand what had just happened. Kellen was scared, but he stayed calm. He told Lydia and Nolan, who were in the back seat, to stay still and not to move. He asked me if they should move up to the front of the van. In the meantime, he leaned forward. 

I didn't know what to do. I could not tell exactly how we had stopped, or how much of the van was hanging over the edge. I could not see what was below us. In my mind, I pictured a car teetering on the edge, like in the movies,  about to fall over with the slightest weight change. I asked Kellen if there were any large trees behind us. You know, to stop us in case we went over. 

I reached for my phone, and called my dad. He was here. Tim was at work. Thankfully dad was working where he had cell service. I was half hysterical trying to tell him what had happened. He said he would fire up the Ditch Witch (which doubles as a tow truck around here) and be right out. I called Tim, still half hysterical, told him what had happened, and asked him to call and cancel my appointment. 

It seemed like an eternity until I saw Papaw coming. My leg was cramping. When I did finally see something coming, it was my farm van, not the ditch witch. The ditch witch wouldn't start, and dad had hooked it up to a battery charger. 

He came and gave the situation a good look. We weren't teetering on the edge, but were firmly hung up on the side of the drive way. I put the van in park, and we all got out. I had to climb out the passenger side. 

After I was out, I could see that the van wasn't going anywhere. Though there was a good drop off initially, below there was a fairly level area, and some nice big trees. I could also see that the hill I was trying to get up was a sheet of ice. 

I called Tim's office to let him know what was going on. His co-worker informed me that Tim was already on his way home. We were back home for only a few minutes before he walked in the house. 

By that time the ditch witch was ready to go. Papaw headed out with it down our driveway. Tim and I took the farm van down the neighbors drive way. (They are almost side by side the whole way, but the neighbors is almost completely flat.) Soon the van was out. There was no damage. The spot the dog is standing is where the van had been.  

I've been involved in a lot of accidents, but none were as scary as this. It is sobering to think of other ways this could have ended. I am so very thankful for the safety of my family on that day. 

In case you are wondering, I didn't use that driveway again until yesterday when things started melting. Even then my heart was racing the entire time. 


  1. Oh that even makes my heart race looking at that. I'm happy you were all okay!

    I was in a lot of accidents as a kid too, but now that I have kids. Any close calls are enough to through me into a panic attack. Scary.

  2. I'm glad everyone is OK! I probably would have had a heart attack!

  3. OMGOODNESS! That makes me light headed just looking at it! I'm relieved that everyone came out ok!

  4. I'd say it was scarier because the kids were in the car. I haven't taken our van out of our driveway in over two weeks! My husband managed to slide his 4wd vehicle right off our driveway. He was quite thankful for the big tree in his way going down the hill, but now he does have some repairs to do. Glad you all came out safe and sound!

  5. Yikes! Those are some scary pictures! I'm so thankful no one was hurt and the van wasn't damaged.

  6. Wow, I'm glad you're okay. I have slid on the snow and ice before (nothing that bad) and it's such a horrible out of control feeling.

  7. Real scary moment but what a star Kellen turned out to be. He deserves one big hug for being so calm for you and the others. Margaret

  8. Hoo Boy. I'm so glad you're all okay. How scary. I don't mind driving in snow, but hate driving in ice-we've had a lot of that this year also. Holly

  9. Oh, I am so glad ya'll are okay!! How scary!!

  10. Soooo glad you all are ok!

  11. I'm glad you're OK - I do know exactly how you feel. We live on a one-lane road and if you meet someone you have to either drive in the ditch or back up. Last July I met someone and rather than backing up since I was in the 4wd jeep, I just drove over into the ditch. Which wasn't a ditch - it was a net of vines. Both passenger side wheels went off the road into nothing. I could feel the car sliding little by little. I don't know if it would have stopped when we got to the driver wheels, but fortunately I didn't have to find out. The guy who I had been trying to get around got the kids out of the car (I was afraid if I got out first the weight would shift too much), then I got out, fully expecting to see the car go on over onto the chicken houses 20 feet below. But it didn't. You can still see the gouge in the road where the tow truck dragged the car out. If it snows i just tell them I won't be there, 4wd or not.

  12. Whew, SO glad you guys are ok!!!

  13. Ice is a scary thing - I am so glad to read that everyone is ok, shaken but good. I have a Dodge caravan too; love that van!