Your friend didn’t make it. That is what the police officer told me as I left the hospital. I was a passenger in my friend’s car when a drunk driver ran a red light and hit the driver side of the car. The car rolled and wound up in someone’s front yard. When I regained consciousness I found myself on the floor under the dashboard. By an act of God, my life was spared even though I was not wearing a seat belt. No broken bones and not a single scratch on me. I think I lost consciousness from getting the wind knocked out of me.
When I opened my eyes the air was filled with dust. I looked over at my friend Dave and he was unconscious but still in his seat because he was wearing a seat belt. The Femer bone on his right leg had broken and was protruding out of his thigh. I remember the paramedic in my first aid class teaching us that if the bone breaks and punctures the skin you do not have to put a tourniquet on it as the muscles will contract around the bone preventing blood loss.
The bigger problem was that Dave was not breathing. His head was tilted down and all I could think of was he probably had a spinal injury. That’s when a burst of blood came out of Dave’s nose and he started breathing. Suddenly, an arm came in from outside the car grabbing Dave’s shirt and trying to pull him out of the car. I yelled, “Leave him alone”. I then crawled out of the car through the back window. I explained to the person that we should wait for the fire department because Dave could have spinal injuries. He pointed to the gas that had leaked out of the car and said, “We have to get him out”. I told him what the paramedic had told us that cars rarely catch on fire unless there is something to ignite the gas like an open flame or a cigarette. I then went over to check on the driver of the other car that was in the crash. He was drunk and had no idea what had happened.
At that time you could hear the sirens of the fire trucks coming. They had to cut Dave out of the car. When they were loading him into the ambulance I noticed that he was moving his fingers. A good sign that he wasn’t paralyzed. I was transported to the hospital in the same ambulance as the drunk. I remember thinking that this guy just screwed up his life.
I didn’t know that my friend would die moments after arriving at the hospital. I didn’t know that they wouldn’t draw blood from the drunk until two and a half hours after we got to the hospital. I didn’t know that the district attorney wouldn’t press charges because the BAC was 0.09, legally drunk was 0.1 back in 1982. I didn’t know that thousands of people are killed or injured each year by drunk drivers and that victims and their families are left with little to no justice. I didn’t know what it would feel like to be a pallbearer at my best friends funeral. I know now. I am horrified that innocent people are still being killed and injured. I am lucky to be alive because I did not wear my seatbelt. Dave had his on but he took the full impact of the car ramming into his door. He died due to massive internal injuries and because someone chose to drive drunk.