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Eagle Mountain, Utah, United States
My name is Lauren, and I live in the bubble. I am wife to Marshall, the biggest BYU fan in the world; and mother to Carly, our big girl, and Wes, our wild man, and Calvin, our new addition. I graduated BYU with a degree in Social Work, and I went forth to serve at LDS Family Services. I like scrapbooking and going out to eat at nice restaurants. I am fascinated by new cleaning products at the grocery store, so I have to shop in wide circles around the perimeter to avoid the temptation to buy. I love chocolate.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Not our favorite Christmas tradition

Marshall and I have horrible luck with cars. And driving. Truth be told, I get lots of speeding tickets. And Marshall is an incredibly cautious driver, but he has been in lots of freak accidents. And mechanical problems on our cars come in sets- We had a year of random popped tires; like 4. And a year of replacing 3 windshields. And this last year it was major mechanical problems like transmissions and radiators. Our cars have been egged, keyed, and a couple years ago one was even stolen!

While we live in Utah, our families are in California. This means that driving home a couple times a year, one trip always occurring at Christmas. So when our bad-car-juju and our annual Christmas trip combine, we get our least favorite Christmas tradition: the car accident.

1st time- Hit a deer on the freeway in southern Utah. Snowing and low visibility.
2nd- Spun out while driving 25mph with chains over the Sierras. Hit the center median. Actually ripped a chain and had to spend the night on the side of the road to wait out the storm before continuing the drive.
3rd- Rear ended at 55mph while at a dead stop on the I-5 in California. I was 17 weeks pregnant. The car was totalled. The guy who hit us was an undocumented immigrant, so thank goodness for uninsured driver insurance.

After this point we flew a year, and once Wes was born we decided to reduce our risk and only drive to one family's house in CA and switch off each year, instead of doing the long loop to visit both.

But still the tradition continues.

This year we had Christmas Crash #4, and it broke usual form. Marshall wasn't driving; I was. And I wasn't speeding; cruise was set at the speed limit. The weather was clear.

Marshall worked the night before, so the plan was for me to drive the first half while he slept. I usually stay up too late the night before and only get a couple hours of sleep, but I had packed ahead of time and was in bed by 9pm. But that morning I was still really tired. By Wendover I was yawning, so I pulled off and bought a Mountain Dew. I don't drink caffeine, so when I do I really feel the effects. We got back on the freeway, and I was wide awake.

A mile or two later I slightly drifted toward the left shoulder. I think maybe I was putting my soda down. But even before I hit the rumble strip, I corrected. But the road was a little wet, and apparently icy. The back began to fish tail. I couldn't correct the spin, and apparently if the wheels aren't facing forward in an orderly fashion, the brakes don't work. I tried to pull over on the right, and instead shot us off the freeway. We went down a little embankment, and the car began to go up on two wheels. Marshall yelled "we're going to roll!" and I said "I know, it'll be alright."

We came down on the passenger side. It was completely surreal to be looking down at Marshall, and watching the ground slide past, inches from his head. I just keep praying we wouldn't skid over a rock. The car came to a rest still on it's side. We all sat there a second and took stock, grateful we were all fine. Marshall jumped up and unbuckled the kids. Some truckers had stopped and we passed the kids to them up through the driver's side window. Then we climbed out and waited as police and fire responded.

Everyone was shocked we were fine. More than one person said "you don't just all walk away from a roll." But we did. Not a scratch, not bump, not a sore muscle. None of the glass broke in our car. It was truly amazing. When we got out of the car, we were just elated. We were probably the happiest crash survivors those fire fighters had ever seen. We were laughing, and joking, and taking pictures. We considered flipping the car back over and just keeping on our drive. But the tow truck driver informed us we'd need a rental. Then we considered just driving to CA and announcing our crash once we arrived and people noticed we were in a rental. But instead we sent this picture via text message to our families.

They weren't as amused as we were. Apparently that's not the best way to tell family you've been in a car wreck.

Ultimately we made a claim with our insurance, took a taxi to Elko, got a rental, and were on our way to California once again within 4 hours. We arrived safely, and are waiting to hear from the adjuster tomorrow about what is happening with our car.

We are so grateful we are safe and unharmed. A lot of it was luck with where we went off the road. But our safety was also definitely due to proper seat belt and car seat use. If one of us hadn't been restrained, that crash could have been deadly. Wes was safely cradled in his rear facing car seat. Carly was safely harnessed in her 5-point harness. Our car seats were properly installed.

I've had a few friends ask me about our choices to be overly-cautious with our car seats since the crash, so I'll link to my past post about car seat safety, and to the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation to rear face until 2.

Though rear facing Wes definitely protected him in our crash, the biggest difference, I believe, was due to Carly being in a harness. Many people think that once a child reaches 40lbs, they need to be moved to a booster seat. But you can harness children safely in seats that go up to 85lbs! In a roll over, a 5pt harness is more effective than just a shoulder belt. And seeing Carly hanging from her seat made me extremely grateful I wasn't just relying on a lap and shoulder belt (especially since many kids improperly wear shoulder belts, pushing them behind their backs). Yay car seats!

With each crash getting worse than the last, I feel like we are tempting fate a little. Maybe from now on, we'll keep our traveling to the summer months only. Or take up a collection for plane tickets?


bec said...

that's amazing you guys weren't hurt! I'm glad you're okay.

Brittany and Curtis said...

Oh my Gosh Lauren that is so crazy. I am so glad that everyone is ok.

sweets said...

Wow im so glad to hear you are all safe.

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