Car Wreck of 1995


About me writing "the book"...

I'm NOT a "big picture" guy that could conceive of such a thing. However, I might be tempted to do as I did with the two pictures on the home page...find a picture that will prompt a story...and tell it.

That's all I can promise!


Below is the first "chapter"...



Before I begin, don't know if you can tell from the picture...the third picture...those are little tiny fish on the floorboard of the car.


Back in 1995, Julie and I had tried to see a particular movie on a couple of occasions, but something...like doctor's visits had intervened. The movie was "The Hunt for Red October"...a submarine thriller. We finally decided that it was just not meant to be.

Then, we noticed in the paper that the movie was showing in Cape Girardeau...at a theater that specialized in showing movies that had been around for a while. So, on a nice sunny day, we decided to jump into our "brand new" (to us) Pontiac Grand Am. We had purchased it eight days prior. Why? Paul McDaniel could tell you...because it was purple! Well...actually it was plum colored, but that was close enough for Julie.

Enjoyed a nice leisurely drive over, but just as we passed the turn for Gale, we noticed a white car that was moving very slowly...the driver appeared to be lost. We slowed and the car started to pull off onto the shoulder. Didn't think too much about that, put my turn signal on and went to pass. Much to my surprise, the car went off the road to the right and then swerved back onto the highway...making a left turn. Well, hell...I veered as far to the left as I could, hoping that the person would see us or that I could get around them before we collided. That was not to be. They ran into the side of our car, forcing us off the road. We bounced down into a drainage ditch full of water, hitting the drainage pipe and gracefully (?) landing upside down in maybe four feet of water. (Well, we hadn't actually taken the depth of the water prior to our descent. Trust me...if you are upside down in a car in four feet of water...it seems like you might be at the bottom of a river or lake.)

Somehow, Julie (although she had had her seat belt securely fastened) had ended up in the back seat. I was hanging upside down...firmly strapped in by my seat belt...which she had insisted that I use. (We had had a long-running "disagreement" about seat belts. I was against them...how dare the State of Illinois tell me what to do in the privacy of my own car. If I want to fly through the windshield in an accident, that was MY business. As long as I did not crash through the windshield of the opposing car...what was the harm? Well...Julie was for them..."It might save your life someday." I had always responded by saying that we would probably run off the road into water someday and I would drown...not being able to release my seatbelt.)

The car was filling with smoke, the horn was blaring nonstop, but I used a precious minute to remind her of our previous "disagreement"...something along the line of "I can't get the damned seat belt unfastened." Finally, I managed to lose the belt. I had lost my glasses, and couldn't see a thing. I asked Julie..."Are you okay?" She said that she was. I then slid over to the passenger side of the car and tried to open the door. It wouldn't budge. Panic...NOT! We had manual windows, so after asking her one more time...are you okay, with her responding in the affirmative...I began rolling down the window (or actually it was "up", since we were upside down.)

Folks, I wasn't prepared for that...the water roared into the car. And...just as it did...Julie says "My leg is caught...I can't move." Now came the panic!!!

I grabbed the door handle and pulled. Whether it was adrenaline or because the pressure had equalized when I rolled down the window...the door opened. I stepped out of the car, stood up, and found that the water came only to chest level. But...no Julie. I went to re-enter the car...literally thinking "She ain't going to die in there alone"...when all of a sudden, I see her hand emerge from the car. I grab hold of her hand and help her out of the car. Girlfriend then promptly hands me my glasses...says she saw them floating by and grabbed them.

(Before I continue with the story...this is where Julie first started talking about angels. She told me how thankful she was that I had come back into the car, freed her leg, and pulled her from the car...saving her life! Well...it would have been nice to take the credit, but I told her..."Honey...I didn't do that...you came out of the car on your own." She said "No...I was caught and I felt your hand come in a free my leg and pull me out." When I protested once more, she said "Well...somebody pulled me out of that car." In later years, she had other angel stories to tell...)

Back to the story...we are standing in four feet of water...remember, Julie is only five feet tall. We look up on the bank of the drainage ditch and see three people standing there. They ask "Is everybody okay? We say "No...we need help." They disappear and we assume that they are going for help. (As it turns out, they were the folks that ran us into the ditch. They evidently decided that they needed to get away before they got into trouble.) We waded to the drainage ditch bank and climbed up to the top. About that time, along came a car occupied by a woman and her daughter. She looked at us - two dripping specimens - and inquired "Do you need help?" She promptly got out of her car and gave Julie a blanket since she was obviously shivering. The good Samaritan then told us that she was going to move her car up to the road...that "everybody" recognizes my car and someone will stop to help. She was right. Almost immediately, another car stopped and when told of the situation, went to telephone for help.

A state trooper shows up about ten minutes later...telling us that he had passed by that spot shortly before and hadn't seen anything. He radioed for an ambulance, which arrived shortly thereafter. The EMTs put Julie on a "board" as a precaution because she had been to St. Louis the week before to see a back specialist. As they are strapping her to the board, the state trooper wants to know what happened. I told him about the white car...but he didn't seem impressed. Finally, we head off for the hospital in Cape Girardeau...to pay a visit to the emergency room. (Well, as Julie stated in her story above...it ain't like on TV. We spent eight hours in the emergency room...with Julie tightly strapped to a not so cushy board.)

Now...I'm going to deliver a "punch line" that won't make any sense...and then I'll explain it. Otherwise, you'd guess the punch line before I even got there. That would take all of the fun out of it...for me...and it's my damned story!

Anyway...about six hours into our ER ordeal, Julie looks up at me and says...in a very pitiful voice..."You tried to drown me!"

The background for that punch line is that Julie and I had a long-running joke about drowning each other. One of us would launch into a scenario...such as...Julie might come around the corner of the hallway just as I was coming up the steps and startle me. I would say something along the line of "My God, Julie...don't do that...I could have fallen backward down these steps...hit my head against the door...fallen down the other steps into the basement...rolled across the floor...tried to get up...stumbled into the downstairs bathroom...and fallen face first into the commode. You tried to drown me!"

Okay...you had to be there! But...it worked for us. We had done this to each other for at least a year. However, the day she spent eight hours lying on that board in ER...to find the strength and humor to deliver that punch line...she won. I never again played the game of "You tried to drown me!" Who could top that?!

A couple of hours later, we cornered an ER nurse and asked "Have the CT scan results come back?" She rolled her eyes and went away. However, she came back in about ten minutes and said the test showed no fractures..."You can get up and go now." Well, that was debatable...take a person with previous back problems, flip them upside down into a drainage ditch, make them lie on a board for eight hours...and expect them to jump up and go home? Well, Julie did just that! But, then again...she IS Julie Newell!

The footnote to this story is that the state trooper called Julie a few days later...all sheepish...saying that they had caught the people who had run us off the road. He admitted that he never thought there was another car...that we had probably been fighting in the car and that is what caused us to crash. Come to find out, one of the girls in the car had paniced...thinking that maybe we had died after all. She told some of her friends at school, one of whom told her mother, who then called the police. When the police drove up to the house, they saw the white car...with purple paint down the entire driver's side.

The adult had a record of drunken driving...but he claimed that his unlicensed fifteen-year-old daughter was driving. Don't know if they ever did anything to anybody.

We, on the other hand, made out like bandits...the insurance company valued the car at $500 more than we paid for it. We used that largess to buy the car that I currently drive! However, I don't recommend that method for trading up!!!