Here’s an interesting story for you today – and aren’t all near-death experiences interesting?
I will try not to hype this up too much, but it was the most terrifying moment of my life. As such, I feel it deserves to be documented.
In order to get the full picture, we’ll need to back up a few days.
On Wednesday, the 30th of January, while driving to the mall to meet my sister for lunch and a movie, I almost ran over a guy on his motorbike. That’s right. I almost killed a man.
As I was getting ready to turn left to head into the parking lot, this motorbike suddenly veered onto my lane. In a desperate attempt to avoid hitting him, I tried to swerve to the right while braking, but with the amount of cars on that lane, there was only so much I could do! I ended up hitting him anyway, feeling the side of my car connect with flesh, before coming to a complete stop. The last thing I saw was the guy falling over hard with his bike on top of him, and I heard myself scream. I got out of the car, terrified at what I was going to find.
Thankfully, he was beginning to stir, and several people came to his aid as they helped him to his feet. Apart from a little limp, he seemed to be doing okay.
I can’t say the same for his bike, or my car for that matter.
With the arrival of police officers, we got everything under control, had to recount the events of the accident several hundred times, (the guy was nice enough to admit it was his fault – although by law, I still got the ticket – that’s my luck for you) and we each went our separate ways. At that point, I wasn’t in the mood for neither lunch nor movie, so I drove straight home.
As my car, a Mercedes E-Class, was being repaired, I took to driving my dad’s old car (also a Merc, this one a 1998 S-Class). Now, driving my dad’s car was a bit of an adjustment when I had gotten so used to my car – I’m sure everyone feels a little strange when they drive a car that’s not theirs. But add to that an older car that always felt a little shaky on the road and is twice the size of your car.
Fast forward to two days ago, the 2nd of February.
I woke up that morning feeling a little down. When I think back to it, I was feeling a little uneasy all day, but I didn’t let it get to me. So I made plans with a friend to watch a movie that afternoon. As I headed out around 11:45am, I stopped at the nearest petrol station to fill up on fuel. That done, I was on my way, listening to some of my favourite tunes.
I was on the Khaleej Al Arabi highway that takes you straight to Dubai if you stayed on it, keeping up with the flow of traffic. During that time, it had started to rain. A little at first, but increasingly as I continued to drive. Soon enough, I had to turn on my windshield wipers. As I was getting closer to my exit bridge, I began the transition from left lane to the farthest right and made the turn.
As I drove over the bridge (one of those long curvy bridges that act like a roundabout), I began to worry a little about the weather. You see, my sister was home on her mid-semester break from university, and on that day she was meant to go back. We weren’t sure whether my dad was going to drive her back, or they were going to send someone to take her.
My last thought on that bridge was, make sure you call Dad and tell him not to let Farah (my sister) leave until the weather clears up.
And then all hell broke loose.
Suddenly, I felt my car skid on the slippery ground. I’m still not even completely certain of how it happened, but I know I felt it slide on a specific patch on the ground. I lost control of the steering wheel and the car began veering left and right. I tried to take control, to make the car stay on the road, to continue taking that turn on the bridge, but I couldn’t. I don’t remember whether I even attempted to brake. Something was wrong. I couldn’t stop the car.
Next thing I know, my car spun and collided head first into the wall on the left side of the bridge. My thought upon impact? Please God, don’t let me go over.
I didn’t. Instead, the car spun 180 degrees and I went head first into the wall on the right side of the bridge. My last thought then? Suad, HIT THE BRAKES!
The whole time, I recall myself screaming hysterically. I thought my life was over upon that first collision.
It probably took all of 10 seconds.
I sat there screaming, and realised I couldn’t even hear myself because the music was still blaring. I turned it off. Still screaming.
My purse was on the floor with all its contents scattered. I began picking them up, then stopped myself. Still screaming. I saw smoke coming out of the car, I panicked. I unbuckled my seatbelt and tried to open the door. It was stuck, it wouldn’t budge for at least 5 seconds until I finally found the strength from somewhere to force it open. I stood outside. Still screaming. Saw the pieces of the car scattered around the bridge. I went back to the car looking for my phone. I found a text from my friend:
Friend: “Where are you?”
Me: “I’m in an accident.”
Obviously, I wasn’t thinking clearly. The minute I hit the reply button, I called my friend and I must’ve been absolutely incoherent as I was sobbing and screaming, because I ended up hanging up halfway through the conversation.
The bridge was completely empty. For about 10 minutes, I was standing there, screaming still, with the phone in my hand. I couldn’t even start to think of what to do. I couldn’t recall the police’s number. I wasn’t even sure of my location or how to describe it to anyone. I felt I was in the middle of nowhere.
A few cars finally drove by, I would hear them screech as they almost hit my car every time before avoiding it and continuing on their way. I stood there trying to flag them down, screaming for help. No one stopped for a while.
Finally, a British couple stopped their car and got out to help me. The man ran to me and asked me if I was okay. I was crying, I told him I couldn’t remember the police’s number. He told me not to worry about it, and that he will call them right away, as well as an ambulance. His wife came to me, and as she looked at the car’s state, she was obviously concerned about other people being inside. I told her I was alone, and she told me to sit in the car. It was then I noticed the windshield wipers were still on, so I turned them off. She gave me tissue and held it to my nose. My nose was bleeding.
As her husband was trying to explain to the police officers our exact location, my friend was calling incessantly, as was my mom. I then realised that I needed to call my family, but I had to speak to my friend first, since I had hung up the phone mid-speech. Upon answering the phone, I received a severe tell off to never do that again. I explained that I needed to call my parents, and that I would call back later. My mom was next.
The second she picked up, I heard: “Why weren’t you answering the phone?!” Talk about a mother’s instinct.
I broke down once again. Sobbing uncontrollably as I told her about the accident. I don’t think I made too much sense, so she expected the worst and told me to stay still as she called my dad.
The nice lady and her husband stayed with me the whole time. They kept telling me I was in shock, and that I needed to sit down. I couldn’t feel anything. But a million thoughts a second were running through my head. The car. My plans. My family. How was I going to explain all this? Two accidents in a row?
My dad called next. I started crying yet again. He was worried sick, asking me if I was hurt, and telling me he was on his way. My brother-in-law called, asking me where I was located exactly. He was on his way too. My sister called, asking me if I was okay. The police officers still made no appearance. The ambulance hadn’t showed up yet either. Several cars had stopped to make sure I was alright, and then continued on their way. The couple stayed with me the whole time.
Looking at the car wreck, I thought how lucky it was that I was alone. That no one was with me in the car. And even luckier that the bridge was completely abandoned during the accident, not putting anyone else at risk.
Sitting there, feeling close to hysteria, I was having this conversation:
Friend: Are you sure you’re not hurt?
Me: No, I think I’m OK, just bruised up.
Friend: You’ll be fine Suad.
Me: I think it’s just shock.
Friend: Good thing you weren’t in a mini.
(I’ve always wanted a Mini Cooper, but my dad insisted on a Mercedes)
And just like that, I found myself laughing. Friends really could offer some comic relief at times like these.
My brother-in-law finally made it, as did the officer, exactly 40 minutes after I had the accident. At the arrival of the officer, the couple asked me once again if I was alright before they were on their way. I went over the details of what happened with the officer and my brother-in-law, and my dad finally arrived. I ran to him and broke down into tears yet again as he hugged me. From then on, my dad and brother-in-law dealt with everything as I was asked to stay in the car. Shortly after, the paramedics arrived. They completed their evaluation and found nothing really wrong with me. My vital signs were just above normal. They asked me if I needed to go to the hospital, and I assured them I was fine. Aside from some pain in my chest and arm, I felt alright. My dad insisted on having me go to a hospital though.
At the hospital, I was still in shock. I kept going through everything that happened, and wondering what I could have done differently. Thanks to my condition as a car accident survivor, I was able to bypass all other patients. They took me in and the doctor administered several routine tests as well as an ECG to make sure my heart’s okay. I also got a chest x-ray, and thankfully, everything seemed just fine. I felt beaten up pretty bad, but hey, no bones were broken! I knew I was going to be in a lot of pain in the next few days, and that I was going to start resembling Frankenstein for a while with all my bruises.
While waiting for all those procedures to be taken, I continued chatting to friends. They helped take the edge off the accident.
Me: This can’t be good, two serious accidents in a matter of days.
Friend: It happens. And it usually happens 2 in a row.
Me: I’ve never been in one. Let alone two.
Friend: It’s normal. You got your two out of the way and you survived. You won’t have another one for at least another 10 years.
Well, I sure hope so.
After I was released from the hospital, I had to go to the police station with my dad to give my statement and sign some papers. At that point, I was starting to get drowsy. I just wanted to put my head down and sleep.
At home, my mom was sitting there anxiously waiting with my sister and her mother-in-law. The minute I saw my mom, she hugged me to her and I just let it all out. I could not stop crying. My little sisters were a mess too, they hugged me and we cried some more. Hell, it was one big crying party!
At that moment, I was just happy to be okay.
I still think back to that day and slowly find myself remembering little things that I had forgotten.
The first thing that went through my head as my car started to careen towards the edge of that bridge was what the hell am I going to tell my family?
I’m glad I made it out to tell the story. And my sense of humour is already back and in overdrive. The fact that I can laugh about it now is a relief. I’m just sorry for all the worry I caused all those that I love. I cannot begin to imagine how they felt while I was going through it all. And I wish I had taken the details of the lovely couple that stayed with me so I could thank them once again for their kindness to an absolute stranger.
What a day it was. Absolutely surreal.
But, all’s well that ends well.