Driving to Azle for church yesterday, we made our usual turn onto Highway 730. I looked at the clock, which read 12:55. We were going to be late to church again.
I had no idea just how late we would end up being.
Highway 730 is a two lane road with a speed limit of 60 mph. As we rounded a curve, the pickup in front of us signaled a left turn and began to slow. There were cars coming from the other direction, so I knew we would have to wait for a bit before continuing.
I noticed a van in my rear-view mirror, and toyed with the idea of passing the pickup on the shoulder to the right. But I decided to stay legal. Everyone behind me will just have to stop, I thought.
Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.
The pickup in front of us was just beginning to turn when I heard the screech of tires behind us. I quickly stepped on the gas to try and get us out of the way, and looked in the rear-view mirror to see what was happening. The van behind us had stopped, but a large black pickup behind her had not.
The pickup attempted to avoid the van by pulling to the shoulder, but didn't quite make it. The van was hit in the back right corner, and was sent spinning towards us. I think I said a bad word, but it was one with biblical precedent. And for some reason I was more concerned about damage to our already shabby car than injury to myself or the girls; probably because I knew the van had absorbed the bulk of the impact.
I tried to get out of the way of the cloud of flying debris, and I remember bracing for an impact that never came. At one point I thought to myself that something had just hit us, but I don't remember actually feeling anything.
We pulled over to the side of the road, and I told the girls to stay in the car for a minute. I got out, and could only see the van sitting in the middle of the road. There were quite a few people who stopped to help, and nearly every one of them had a cell phone to their ear so I went to look for the truck. It had driven down in to a deep ditch, and the driver was being helped by a couple of guys, one of whom called her Mom. She had a cut on her head, and eventually ended up leaving in an ambulance.
I then turned my attention to the van, and recognized the driver as a gal from church. When she saw me, a look of relief joined the fear on her face. I gave her a hug, and we worked to get her three young children out of the van. None of them were hurt, although the oldest girl had been in the back and was covered with bits of broken glass.
Another family from the ward stopped, and my girls came back to help with the kids. The ambulance crew checked out everyone, and a fireman took initial statements. I took over traffic control from a couple of other bystanders, getting a little sun for the top of my head. It took nearly 45 minutes for the State Trooper to finally arrive. He was the Hollywood stereotype of a Texas lawman - big cowboy hat, broad square-jawed face, and dazzling smile.
We finally made it to church 90 minutes late, thankful that all we ended up with was a scratch on the bumper and an opportunity to be the ones rendering service for a change.