On June 28th, 1985, I was travelling north on I-15 from Las Vegas to
Salt Lake City, and was about half way there when I approached a bend in the
road, about 9:30 at night. It was completely dark by then, and the most I
could see was about fifty feet in front of my car.
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I never noticed, or I guess really paid attention to the "deer crossing"
signs posted along the highway; and I guess neither did someone else. Because
smack-dab in the middle of the lane I was in, there was a dead deer! I had
barely enough time to take my foot off the pedal and realize that I couldn't
do anything to avoid running over the deer. So I decided to avoid trying to
swerve wildly, and went as straight over the deer as I could.
The biggest problem with my strategy -- which, granted, wasn't slowly thought
out -- was that I was on a bend, and when my car came over the deer, it bounced
around a bit, and kept me from continuing along the bend. I tried to keep on
the road, but when one wheel went off the pavement, the whole car was
committed to follow.
As I bounced around in the brush, I remember thinking that I really needed
to get back on the highway, for fear that I would get two flats, and be
screwed with only one spare tire. I tried correcting a little, then suddenly
had my next thought: "hey, aren't I upside-down"?
The next thing I remember was some guy coming over to where I was laying, and
asking "dude, are you alright"? I was a little puzzled, but was in an oddly
humorous mood, considering that I thought I was okay, and I responded "man,
there was a car here, just a second ago", as I mimed holding onto a steering
The guy who had come up to me stayed with me while the ambulance came, which
was a good half hour away. But we had a good time talking, and joking around.
I will never forget what one thing he told me, and that was that he came upon
the scene, saw my car, and "came looking for the dead body". He was really
surprised to see me alive, and then to be cracking jokes was even better.
He also told me that there was a rest area only a 100 yards away or so, on the
other side of the highway, so I had been pretty lucky that someone was close
by when it happened, and luckier that they had heard it happen, and even
luckier that it didn't happen where nobody would have even noticed a car off
the side of the road.
I later saw the pictures of the car, and pieced together what must have
happened. As I went off the road, the back wheel slid off the road, while I
tried to keep the front wheels headed onto the highway. But as the back
wheels kept going, I spun around until the back of the car was leading.
When I came upon the middle of the median, where the ground makes a little
valley to drain between the opposite lanes of the highway, the back of my
car caught the ground going up from that valley, and caught enough of the
back bumper to flip the car over. The brunt of the impact was taken by the
front passenger side, which means that I flipped from one corner of the car
to the other.
From the cuts, scrapes and bruises on my body, the best I can figure is that
I was ejected through the windshield, cutting my lower back on the roof of the
car where the windshield was, and scraped my feet and knees as I tumbled onto
the ground. I was wearing NO seatbelt, and had no
broken bones. The highway patrolman who was on the scene later visited me
at the hospital during my 5-day stay, and told me that (and I paraphrase)
"he had never unbuckled a dead body, in the years he had worked for the
highway patrol, but he was sure he would have with me, if I had my seatbelt
on". The impact had smashed the roof of the car pretty good, and I must have
ejected during the major impact on the front of the car; before the car tumbled
again on the roof. Most people who suffer major injuries, when ejected from
a rolling car, are crushed when the car rolls on top of them. I was lucky
enough to get tossed out behind the roll, instead of in front of it.
I stayed at the Fillmore Hospital for five days, only 3 days after it opened.
I do recall the staff being a little unorganized, as they were still learning
the hospital setup, and figuring out where everything was; but I didn't really
know until they later told me how new the hospital was. The doctor said he
stopped counting stiches at about 100, and the scars I have now look like
I was whipped or something.
I've been past that exact spot in the highway several times now, and notice
the deer crossing signs just before the spot where I rolled. In fact, there
must be a natural path for deers to roam from one mountain range to another
that goes right where I rolled, because about five years later, to the very
day that I rolled, I was travelling past that spot, and had to shew a deer
off the highway, probably within a hundred feet or two of where I rolled.
Whenever I see a deer crossing sign now, I keep my eyes
peeled, because I know they only put those signs where deer are known to cross.
My life changed after that. I couldn't do physical labor for months, and
spent the first month just getting my knees healed to the point where I could
walk normal again. As a result, I ended up finding a job as a computer
programmer, and have been in the computer profession ever since. And look at
me now, I even have my own web site. What a geek! ;-)