Updated: Feb 8
Roughly 18 months ago, I was driving a regular client back from San Diego airport. We were traveling in the middle lane when suddenly we realized we were the first people to come upon a horrific accident involving 3 cars and a motorcycle far removed from the man who once rode it. My client, a Marine Veteran, said “Pull over Jackie, I have to help this guy” as he grasped the inner door handle. I did think he was going to jump out in the middle of the freeway.
Nervously, I began to pull over to the right shoulder. Here we are in the middle of a 6 lane Interstate and I start turning the wheel toward the right as he firmly said “No, drive TO the accident!” He anxiously held onto the door handle ready to jump out of the car to help the motorcycle accident victim. First responders and military personnel run toward emergencies while people like me pull away from emergencies to call for help!
I weaved through wreckage, 3 cars, 3 people walking around in shock taking pictures but unharmed, a motorcycle, another car that had stopped, and a body splayed on the freeway, eventually parking in the car pool lane in front of the other car.
I felt like a fool keeping the car running so I turned it off and cracked the windows. The other gentleman who I pulled in front of also turned out to be a Marine Veteran.
The critically injured man next to my car was in shock...I heard nothing from him initially. What I did hear were these two Marines triaging a horrific scene (even taking a verbal accident report) while we all waited for the emergency vehicles to arrive.
Quickly assessing that the man on the ground was in trouble and that the other 3 drivers were ok, they began pulling him out of shock by introducing themselves as Marines, talking about the present, and reassuring him that more help was on the way. My client was even able to get the victim’s cell phone out and call his wife to let her know what had happened and that he was ok. Once he was pulled out of shock, the wailing began....we believe he had broken his legs and even his back.
I sat there feeling helpless, so I closed my eyes and started praying as the “Looky-Lous” on the southbound 5 came to a crawl to see what had happened. I always try to examine situations and find my purpose in them whenever possible.
Momentarily, I felt useless and terrified, but after breathing and praying, I knew we were there at that exact time to save this man’s life, provide him comfort, and shield him from view.
On this and every Veteran’s Day, thank you for your lifelong service protecting and serving the American people-whenever and wherever. I would also like to thank our nation’s police, fire, EMTs, hospital workers, and all frontline workers for your continued dedication during these dark times in our history.