December 5, 2013
It was just another busy night, call after call.
It was a little before 2am when I got a call at a local grocery store. My customer was already standing outside when I pulled up. I get out, open the trunk and start helping load her groceries.
I took her home, cleared my call and instantly get another call. It’s for a bar that’s right down the street. I’ve got the radio on and I’m singing along having fun before the next pickup. As I approach a very major intersection in town, the light is green and has been now for a few seconds now. I move over to the middle lane, something I always try to do, just in case I have to jump over to avoid an accident.
As I enter the intersection I see something out of the corner of my eye. I turn to my right and realize it’s a car and they’re coming way too fast. I started to say Oh Shit but before I can even get the word shit out of my mouth, he hit me.
It was the loudest thing I had ever heard in my life. What I would imagine being shot out of a cannon would sound like. He pushed me sideways through the entire intersection, hit a light post and into another car sitting in the turning lane, bounced off of that car and back into the middle of the intersection. When we finally came to a stop I look over and his front end is up against my side. Everything is so loud. People are screaming and panicked.
I knew I was hurt bad. I had taken classes to be an EMT… so I knew my whole right side was smashed and broken. I wanted to be sure that if I died that there was some evidence showing that I wasn’t at fault. So I reached up and hit the record button on the camera… which automatically backs up 30 seconds and starts recording.
Everyone keeps coming over to the car to check on me. One guy even cut my seatbelt off and tried to pull me out of the car. He said he could smell gasoline and knowing that Prius is a hybrid car, gas and electricity doesn’t mix. Once he got the seatbelt off he wrapped his arm around me and started to pull. I screamed.
I told him, “Just wait for the paramedics. I know my arm and leg are both broken.”
He looks at me surprised that not only am I conscious I’m alert and oriented enough to know what’s going on and analyze my injuries. Most people would have either passed out from the pain or have been in shock. But, I was very much aware of what had happened and very conscious… unfortunately.
There was a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts going through my mind. My wife was pregnant with our third child. Not to mention over 2,000 miles away, taking care of our other two children while I worked on getting us a house down here. Aside from the most agonizing pain you can ever imagine in your life, I was pissed. How can someone be so careless? How can someone hit a lime green car?
I was completely helpless for the first time in my life. I’m 6’ 5” and 290 lbs and I can’t move. I can’t seem to hold my body upright… I keep laying over the steering wheel… just staring at the man who just killed me.
I knew I was going to die. There was no way I was going to survive this. I knew I was never going to see my wife again. I would never see my unborn child. Never know if we had a boy or finally had our little girl. I would never get to see my two boys again. Never get to hold them, hug them, kiss their forehead before bed or tuck them in at night. Shit, the kids ??? How is my wife supposed to take care of three children on her own? How is she going to be able to afford to raise our kids? How is she going to take care of two disabled children and a baby?
Where the fuck are the paramedics???
I hear sirens but it sounds so far away.
Finally after what seemed like eternity, the paramedics arrive. Ok time for a rapid assessment. We have two ambulance and four paramedics. Three cars involved here. #1 the guy who hit me who is by himself. Out of the vehicle walking around and talking with a cut on the forehead. #2 Me also by myself severely injured. Slouched over the steering wheel and smashed between two cars. #3 the vehicle I hit. There’s 5 people in there. Airbags deployed but everyone is out of the vehicle and seem to be ok.
In an accident like this for EMS its all about saving the most lives. So they bypass me, thinking i’m already dead and one group of medics goes to the guy who hit me, the other crew to the vehicle i hit. The medics check with everyone in the car i hit and everyone is ok. Sore and scared, but ok. The medic turns and shines his light at me and i sat up and looked at him.
“Holy shit guys hes alive!”
Not the words you want to hear from a paramedics mouth.
He comes over to me and starts asking questions.
“Can you tell me your name?”
“Ok Tom, do you know where you are?”
“Yeah, I’m in a cab.”
“Can you be more specific Tom?”
“Yeah, I’m driving a fucking cab.”
“Geographically speaking Tom, where are you?”
“Well I’m somewhere in the vicinity of… (the intersection). I’m not completely sure how far I got pushed.”
“Alright Tom, listen to me… we gotta get you out of this car ok?”
“How do you plan on doing that? This is a Prius… I’m 6’5” and damn near 300lbs. My leg is broken and so is my arm. I dont think I can stand or walk or be much help to ya.”
“Well I’m going to wrap my arm around you and pull ok?”
He starts to pull me out of the car sideways with his arms wrapped around me.
As he starts to pull I feel a sharp stabbing pain in my upper arm. The more he starts to pull the more it hurts when I feel a quick, sharp pain in my arm.
“Hey boss you’re going to have to figure something else out.”
He stops… “Why is that?”
“Well my fractured arm just went all the way through the skin.”
“Ok, can you raise your arm up? Maybe if I wrap around your midsection?”
I try to move my arm and realized my shoulder is broken.
“I can’t lift my arm man. I either broke my shoulder or collar bone or both.”
“Well sir I don’t have any other option I’m going to have to lift it for you and get you out of here.”
I’m now standing outside the car.
All I can think is, Holy Shit this hurts… I really shouldn’t be standing.
They wheel the stretcher over to me and I climb on. They get me in the back of the ambulance and close the doors. We pull up to the hospital and a whole fleet of nurses and doctors are standing by waiting.
A few hours later…
I’m not sure why I woke up.
I don’t hear the kids… so it must still be pretty early. Maybe it’s the morning sickness. Check my phone. Still early. Missed call.
Hmmm… I recognize the area code, but not the number. Well, if I don’t call now, I won’t be able to hear whoever is on the phone later once the kids are awake. Might as well call now.
Some what sit up, call.
*Ring. Ring. Ring.*
“Hello, such and such Hospital. How can I help you?”
“Hi! I’m sorry. Someone from this number just called me recently?”
“Do you have a room number?”
“Ummm no… I’m not even sure who called me. The only person who knows my number down there is my Husband.”
“Well what’s his name?”
“Okay, let me check… Nope, I don’t have him here.”
Sigh of relief.
“Would you like me to transfer you to the ER to see if he might be over there.”
“Ummm, yes please. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Hold please.”
Heart beating faster.
“Hi, I got a call from this number… I think my husband might have called from there?”
“What’s his name?”
“Hold on for a moment, I’ll transfer you back.”
“Okay, thank you.” I sat up.
Oh my gosh… I wasn’t expecting him to actually be there…
“Hi. This is Jenna. I was looking for my husband, Tom?
“Hi. This is Julie, from the Cab Company.”
“Oh Hi Julie…”
“I called you earlier, I wanted to tell you He was in an accident this morning. I didn’t want to keep calling you and wake you up.”
I held my breath…
“Tom’s okay. He’s in pretty bad shape, but he’s doing okay considering.”
Let out a breath of air…
I honestly can’t really remember too much between our conversation after that. She filled me in on what had happened. That he was hit by a drunk driver really early that morning while he was working. That he had at least three broken bones on his right side, was scheduled for surgery that day, but he was okay. He couldn’t talk right now, but she would make sure that I got to talk to him later.
We hung up…
“Thank you Lord. Thank you, thank you, thank you for keeping him safe.”
I just sat there for a long time. I don’t even know how long. Eventually I snapped out of it and posted on Facebook for friends and family to pray and for those in the area to know where he was. I just stared at my phone for a while. Waiting… for anything. For someone to comment. For someone to call… for anything. I didn’t know what to do. I just wanted to hear his voice… It had been about 12 hours already since I talked to him.
Finally I got up, started getting things ready for the kids when I heard them starting to move around. Times like this, I’m happy that they are Autistic and don’t understand much of anything I say and can’t talk… so they can’t ask me where Daddy is… even if I wanted to tell them what happened, they wouldn’t understand.
I kept my phone glued to my hand the rest of that day. I talked to his friends and family. Asking about where he was and how to visit. I was glad that his Mom, Dad, Brothers, people he worked with and some other friends went to visit him… but my heart broke every time they told me they had just visited him and I couldn’t even talk to him let alone see him. I wanted to talk to him so bad, I wanted to be there. We have gone through every good and bad situation together. We’ve never been apart for this long before, let alone away from each other when we were struggling through something.
The day was ending, I got the kids in bed and I was sitting in the living room… just staring at my phone. Hoping I’d get to hear from him today. Eventually I had to go to bed, I had two little boys needing me in the morning, and being 4 months pregnant… I needed to rest.
I couldn’t sleep though… I tossed and turned all night.
I FINALLY got to talk to Tom! It had been 36 hours since I had last talked to him. Which seemed like forever… His Dad called me and helped me talk to him. I guess he couldn’t hold the phone, and was still in a lot of pain. So, I really only talked to him for a little bit, but it was still really great to hear his voice.
I took a deep breath, and went back to taking care of the kids.
It wasn’t until 4pm that night that I saw how bad his cab had been hit… heard from others that he was lucky to be alive. If he had been hit on the other side of his cab…
It wasn’t until I got the kids in bed and they were asleep that I broke down and cried.
The results of the crash… I broke my femur (the bone in your thigh), I shattered my hip, shattered my pelvis, broke 8 ribs, broke my collar bone, broke and dislocated my shoulder, tore my rotator cuff in half, all on my right side. And broke a finger on my left hand (airbag got me).
I spent 38 hours in two different surgeries, I have plates, rods, screws and pins holding my arm, shoulder, pelvis and femur together, I spent 8 weeks in the ICU, and another 3 weeks in the hospital, 11 days in a coma on life support, I died 6 different times and spent countless hours of physical therapy trying to get my movement and strength back. After all of that, I will never be back to “normal”.
This is no where near everything that happened… or all that pain and chaos that we have gone through since the wreck, let alone just the time I was in the hospital… Later I found out that the driver had been drinking and driving… This whole thing could have been avoided if he had called a cab or a friend instead of drove…
I wanted to say Thank you to the Cab Company for everything you all have done for our family, thank you to my brothers for taking care of me when I couldn’t… thank you to friends and family who came to visit me in the hospital, to Nana and Cody for helping Jenna and the boys when I couldn’t, for everyone who helped donate to our family and thank you all so much who prayed and are still praying for us.