20 years and 5 days ago I was thrown from my Jeep Wrangler while driving home from the library in Dublin, Ohio.
It was a cold, wet day in September — one of those days where it’s best to stay inside while snuggled on the couch with a good movie, a warm blanket and a sweet treat baking in the oven.
I had a cold and the last thing I wanted to do was go to the library to do research for a paper. Since it was a group project, I didn’t want to let the group down, so I pushed my tired being out of bed and out the door and even offered to drive everyone there.
While at the library I remember feeling achey and tired. We finished up fairly quickly and headed back home. Back in 1992, the road we took had only two lanes. I couldn’t tell you what the road is like now as I haven’t been back since.
The rest of this story is fuzzy to me. My recollection of how the accident happened is a mystery, but this is what I think happened.
I hadn’t yet purchased the bench seat for the back of the Wangler, so it only had two seats. I was with my friend and her boyfriend, Jen and Chris. She was sitting on his lap and neither of them were wearing a seatbelt. I myself wasn’t safely strapped in either which was unusual for me. I’m guessing I was feeling so sick, that the seatbelt wrapped across my body seemed more painful than it was worth.
I remember loud music and cigarette smoke. I have images of arms moving to the music. Then nothing.
I woke up on the hard, wet, dirty ground and as I gazed up I realized I was under the guard rail on the side of the road. I turned my head and my Jeep was upside down to the right of me. I blacked out. The next thing I remembered wa the inside of the ambulance. I blacked out again. Then I was lying on a hard cold gurney for hours.
I’ll never forget the most humiliating part of the emergency room. It was when the cute EMT guys had to cut the sweatshirt I was wearing right down the middle so they could x-ray my chest, shoulders, neck, etc. I had been home sick for a few days and had neglected to shave my armpits. Ever since this accident I do not leave my home without shaved legs and armpits, ever.
It took months to recover fully. I broke a shoulder and had some pretty bad road burns on my back. I still have scars from the spot where they later removed chunks of gravel in my arm. The injuries were surprisingly minimal for being thrown from a moving car but I still missed an entire semester of school. Depression hit me hard.
I should have jumped for joy after hearing that my car had been totaled and I escaped with minor damage to my body, but that only made it worse. I kept thinking over and over, why me? Why was my life spared? How did I manage to fly out of a moving vehicle that flipped over and totaled? Why wasn’t I wearing my seatbelt that day when I ALWAYS wore my seatbelt? Why, why, why?
The police told me that if I HAD worn my seatbelt I would have died. I was spared because I WASN’T wearing my seatbelt.
Even though in this accident I lived because I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt, I now ALWAYS wear my seatbelt and make sure everyone in a car with me wears theirs as well.
I am lucky that my frieds escaped harm, too. They were not wearing their seat belts. My friend Jen did not have even one scratch on her body and she landed on her feet. Chris had a cut on his forehead that needed stitches. Had something terrible happened to them, or if the had died, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself.
My life as I know it today wouldn’t be the same. I count my blessings every day and have learned little by little why my life was spared on 9/02/1992. You can see three of my biggest blessings in the photo above.