Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two Out of Five Ain't Bad - Part 1

Many years ago I was driving from Ottawa to Waterloo. It was very late, as I had left Ottawa well after dinner, and had passed through Toronto after Midnight. About 40 minutes past Toronto, driving up the hill on the 401 past Kelso Conservation Area, I saw a pair of brakelights well ahead of me flash on for a couple of seconds, then completely disappear. Odd, it seemed, as I had been following the same small group of vehicles about a kilometre back for at least the last five kilometres.

After cresting a rise about where the lights disappeared, I noticed then that the road dipped a bit, possibly the reason for the lights to disappear. At the same time I noticed a set of taillights ahead of me and to the right, off to the side of the road. An instant later, my tail end started to slide, as the road curved to the right, and there was gravel all over the place. I popped the clutch, straightened the back end, and slowed down.

To my right the taillights I saw were on the back of a large horse trailer, which had followed the pickup truck towing it off the roadway and into the ditch. I hit the brakes and geared down, and noticed ahead of me a little SUV parked on the shoulder. I had plenty of time to stop, so I pulled in behind the SUV and stepped out.

Just then I saw a man come trotting up toward me: "We got to get them out, We got to get them out!" he yelled at me, frantically.

"Get who out? What are you talking about? Buddy, calm down a bit" I told him, but he just continued on ranting: "Jesus man, I was a tow truck driver in Toronto for years, and ain't seen nothing this bad! We got to get them out, hurry!"

From behind my seat I pulled out my fire extinguisher, and a three-pack of flares, and we headed back toward the pick up, he running ahead, urging me to hurry. As I got closer, I saw four people standing on the shoulder near the tail end of the pickup truck, A crew cab F-350. It had completely run off the shoulder and into the ditch, with the horse trailer behind it still mostly on the shoulder. Three of the people appeared to be dazed, or in shock, the other a lady, seemed to be taking care of them.

"That's my wife, and the three from the pickup." the guy said to me "I think they're ok, but down here.....oh Jesus, man, we gotta get them out!"

I looked down - Jesus Christ - was all I thought when I saw it, and recognized what it was. A small red car, barely visible, was completely crushed under the front end of the pickup. It was sideways, with only what appeared to be the passenger side of the vehicle visible under the mammoth front bumper of the truck.

"We gotta get them out! c'mon man, we gotta get them out, let's go" the guy urged me. I was starting to lose it. I took out my first flare, and struck it. It began flaming brightly.

"Buddy, take this flare, and stick it out on the highway, about 300 feet down the road." I said to him. He took the flare, and trotted off. I hadn't noticed at all, but a couple of vehicles were passing every minute, and I didn't want them all spinning out on the gravel over the road.

I struck the second flare, and then carefully picked my way down into the ditch, to the front of the pickup truck, and the little red car crushed underneath it. I couldn't smell gas, but still held the flare carefully in my left hand, up high as I approached. As I came up to the car, I noticed the passenger side was facing out, with the nose of the car pointing to my right. The pickups bumper was on top of the car, resting on the roof of the passenger side of the vehicle. Things didn't look to good for whoever was inside. The passenger side window had exploded out, and an arm was hanging out the window. I knelt down, to get a better look, as the car was so close to the ground. I couldn't find a pulse, and the passengers head was tilted at an odd angle - she was dead.

I brought the flare closer, as I hadn't seen the driver. As I did so, and looked further in, I saw what was left of the driver's head, exploded over their body, a grisly mix of blood, bone, brain and hair. The pickup had apparently smashed through the side of the car, with some of the engine parts crushing open the drivers head, and probably crushing their body also. In the now gruesome orange-red light of the flare, I felt nausea rush over me.

I turned around, stumbled away, and started puking. I hadn't eaten in a long time, but I heaved up whatever I had for about half a minute, before climbing back up to the shoulder.

"Hey man, we gotta get them out! Can we get them out now?" He was now past the point of me being polite in any manner whatsoever.

"Buddy, could you shut the fuck up! I don't wannna hear that again!" I yelled, and he immediately quieted down. "They are dead! DEAD! We don't have to get them out. It's all over, they are both dead."

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