Car Crash

I’ve been off for a while because of things.  Last week I was in Baha all week for spring break, and as soon as I got back my computer broke, so I’ve been more or less offline this week.

Mexico was phenomenal, right up until the horrifying car crash.  We were staying at Villa Bahia in Bahia de los Angeles, which is about 400 miles into Mexico down the East coast of Baha, where there’s absolutely no cell phone service.  We had about 40 people down there, and four cars left together to come back at 5am on Saturday morning.  20 minutes after leaving, the car in front blew a tire, swerved off the road, tried to correct, and flipped into the air, rolling three times before coming to rest upright in the middle of the road.

The car was totalled, and of the four people in the car, one was unhurt, one was bruised, one had a big cut on the back of his head, and one – Nate, the driver – was fucked up.  We couldn’t get the driver side door open, and there was blood all over the inside of the car.  The air bags didn’t go off.  Logan and Drew are trained EMTs, and Logan had a big med kit with him, so he started taking care of things.  We got Bryce’s head bandaged, and got Nate bandaged while taking vitals, which were stable, and waited for the ambulance to survive.

It showed up half an hour later, with just a driver inside; no medical professional.  Logan directed the effort to get Nate out the passenger side door and into the ambulance.  Nicole got in too, since she is fluent in spanish, and one of the police officers joined her.  The ambulance driver said they were headed for a clinic in San Quitin – 5 hours away – and took off.  As the tow truck hauled the broken car away, we divided stuff into cars, squeezed the two extra people in, and took off.  We didn’t get far before realizing that Logan should have been in the ambulance.

Five hours later, we got to San Quitin, and after stopping twice to ask for directions, found the Red Cross clinic.  We went in and asked if they had a patient named Nate.  They said no.  After a little frantic dialogue, and some people coming out from the back, we learned that an ambulance had come by a couple hours ago, but had gone on to Ensenada.  Apparently the patient inside wasn’t talking.  They gave us the name of the hospital, and rough directions, and we left.

Two hours later we got to Ensenada and found the hospital.  Nicole had taken care of everything like a champ.  She was in contact with Nate’s parents, as well as the US Consulate.  Nate was talking again, and stable.  We wanted to move him to a hospital in San Diego, but an hour later the doctor told us, in fluent english, that he had a severe neck sprain, and the didn’t want to move him that night.  They were going to keep him there overnight, clean the wounds, and get him to the states the next morning.

We finally made it back to Claremont at 1am; Logan and Nicole stayed overnight in the hospital in Ensenada.  Nate’s mom flew down, he was moved to San Diego, successfully treated and released.  He’ll be fine, but he’s in a back and neck brace for the next 6-8 weeks.  It turns out he had several fractures in his spine and ribs, so if he’d been moved improperly he would be paralyzed or worse.  Basically, Logan may have saved Nate’s life.  Or at least his legs.

Before this trip, I had been doing a lot of existential thinking about whether or not life has purpose.  I’d read a lot, and written a lot on the subject.  But what’s funny is that during a disaster like this car crash, all of that evaporates.  In that cold, still moment, when you realize that one or more of your friends are in that crumpled car, when you see blood splattered across the door handle and soaked through clothes, you realize that philosophy doesn’t matter.

It honestly wouldn’t have mattered whether it was one of our cars, or some random car we’d never met before.  When the chips are on the table it’s all about instinct.  I helped every way I could on Saturday, taking notes on Nate’s vitals, helping get him out of the car and into the ambulance.  But I would have done that for anyone.  I can’t fall back on abstract notions of meaning and value when someone needs help like that, and it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s my friend, or that I would want the same done for me.  It’s just the right thing to do.


One response to “Car Crash

  1. Marilyn Mahoney

    Hi dear……what a scary time. We are so glad you are safely back at Claremont as those with you. We can only guess at all the things you learned from this experience. Life can be very ephemeral. Love…grandma

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