I Was Not In A Car Accident Yesterday

I-5 accident backup 10 24 2013

There is no hidden surprise in that title, don’t worry.

My yesterday started off when I checked my email to find a message from the teacher of my morning class.  She had sent a class-wide email out at 1am to let us know that her husband had been in a bad car accident the day before, and while he was okay, she was going to have to cancel class for this week to deal with insurance, him, and their totaled car.  Because of this, I then didn’t have to get to school until my 1pm class, so I got up and started my day with a workout.

Heading up to Irvine from San Clemente in the middle of the afternoon means that I get to avoid the morning traffic, so I don’t have to leave nearly as early as I do for my morning classes.  As I pulled onto the I-5, though, I noticed the northbound lanes were a little fuller than usual, which confused the heck out of me.  Very quickly, though, I was in stop-and-go traffic, and I realized that there had to have been an accident somewhere up ahead.  An ambulance came flying by us on the right shoulder, and as we all slowly lurched forward, I realized that the accident must’ve happened recently.  It clicked, too, that the southbound lanes were all but completely empty, so the accident must’ve been on that side.  A cop car later passed us on the left, and then I could see the mass of flashing lights up ahead, just before the PCH exit.  As I pulled up closer, a large truck moved out of my way, and I saw the whole scene.  I put my hand to my mouth and gasped… it looked horrible.

From what I could see, there were at least 3 totaled cars strewn about various lanes, and in the middle of it all was a jack-knifed semi-truck.  I noticed that the center divider was a little damaged on OUR side, and then I spotted tire tracks leading up to the damaged spot – did a car really jump the divider?  I couldn’t imagine, from how it looked, that there were no fatalities, and seeing a group of teenage girls sitting on the divider together and imagining what horribly sad things must’ve happened, took its toll on me.  My side of the freeway cleared up immediately, but the southbound lanes were backed up all the way to almost Mission Viejo by that point.  I walked into my class only a couple of minutes late, but my mind was only half there.

An hour-and-a-half later, class was over, and I was able to go and look for news on the accident.  Reports mentioned that 9 vehicles were involved, that it was actually the big rig that had jumped the divider, and though someone had been transported to a hospital by helicopter, there were no immediate fatalities.  My mind was blown.  First of all, to imagine that a huge truck and its long trailer hit that divider and actually flew right over it conjured up images of just how terrifying that must’ve been for the folks who were facing it come right at them.  Secondly, that there were no deaths was a huge relief, but so surprising… especially when the scene looked like this:

I-5 southbound accident semi truck jack-knifed

I-5 semi truck accident totaled cars

On my way home from school, yesterday, it was bumper to bumper the whole time, though the accident had been cleared hours earlier.  According to the reports, the accident occurred about 30 minutes before I drove by, but even if I’d left earlier (as if for my morning class, to account for traffic), I still wouldn’t have been there when it happened.  After I had time at school to read about what’d happened, I also had time to post a tweet about it, and I echoed a sentiment that hit me hard as I had first pulled into the school parking lot.  I might’ve been late getting there, but I got there.  On the drive home, I even saw a pair of cars that had been involved in a fender bender, and all of these accidents drove the point home even further.

Priority smacked me right in the face.

I don’t tend to get too upset by traffic or things making me late like that, but I have plenty of other things that cloud my viewpoint of life at times.  You’ll know me to be a pretty jovial guy, but I’m talking less about my outlook, I suppose, and more about my actions.  I’m not selfish or mad enough to say that God created these accidents to send me a message, but He sure spoke to me through them.  I remember when my friend, KB, was in a car accident.. waiting to find out how she was and then trying to sleep that night after picking her and letting her sleep at our house… those are feelings I hope to never feel again.  But ya know what?  She was alive, and as little as I slept that night, knowing that she was okay was all I really needed.  How easy is it to get wrapped up in ourselves, our petty worries, and how sad is it that it generally takes dramatic events to remind us of how little those things matter?  God’s been working on me a lot, very recently, and I won’t go into all of that, but I feel rejuvenated in very specific ways because of it.  I don’t want this to sound as if it’s a situation where horrible things happen and a person takes a deep breath and turns it into relief for themselves.  Sincerely, I was relieved to hear that there were no deaths in yesterday’s accident, but my re-realization of priority wasn’t just selfishly about myself, and it’s hardly from a pious place.  I know folks who are concerned with loneliness or a reliance on alcohol or dealing with relationship issues or worrying about a future career… but all of that is selfish – selfish as a description, not an insult.  I’ve talked about it before, but if we want to live valuable lives, we need to look outside of ourselves.  I purposefully use the word “we” because I am talking firstly about myself… and if you find yourself in the same wagon, I invite you come to the same personal conclusions.  I am not shy about the fact that my priority in life is what God wants from me, but what I’ve been convicted of as of late, is how much more I should be doing to that effect.  I know what I need to be doing, or not doing, and I feel God renewing my heart and pushing me to do so, but it was all driven home by the fact that I left my house yesterday and came home safely… and if I hadn’t, how little I would have done in the name of what I profess to be my life’s priority.

photos from: San Clemente Times and The Orange County Register

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About Mark Mushakian

Just a man who loves God, women, kids, dogs, movies, and every other lovely thing in life :)
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