We were in a fine mood while coming back from LA back to San Francisco Bay Area last Sunday (28th June) night through highway 5 before we encountered an accident. We all are alive with no major injuries apparently. The car rolled a few times to avoid a hit & run in the interstate 5 and ended up landing in the side of road breaking almost all the areas of the car except where Shusmita and Ahyan were sitting.
We had our early dinner in Aladin sweets that night buying fishes, soups and after driving around 100+ miles on the way home, Shusmita took the car from me as Ahyan was already sleeping by that time. She has been giving me some handy breaks in long drives for last few months. This time also she took it as a routine and I don't think she could do anything better to avoid this accident. While we were 130 miles away from LA and 250 miles before San Francisco Bay area, the accident happened at around 10:30 in a dark night.
I was in the navigator seat lying down instead of regular sitting position and was in the initial phase of taking a nap. So what Shusmita told me later is that a dark color Sedan was doing zig zag at a very high speed along the road and when it came to the first lane beside us, it started closing to us rapidly attempting a hit & run. Shusmita took our car from left most (2nd lane) to the side of the road. This way she avoided the hit from that drunk driver (I guess?! or may be crazy driver?!). If you have ever driven in highway five, you know that there are 2 roads - one going from LA to San Francisco/Sacramento i.e I 5 North and another approximately 30 feet parallal in the road coming from San Francisco to LA. In between this 30 feet, the place where we were at the time of accident, there were sands, bushes but no hard rocks or bridges or side bar. Anyway, Shusmita saw the car falling in the 5-7 feet deep sandy place (is it known as gutter?! like a flat deeper place in between the two roads working as a separator of the two highways) and hence tried to bring the car back into the road. She was driving at 75 mile per hour and hence quickly shifting the car from left to right and then right to left was impossible. So although she tried, the car went out of her car control. I jumped up from sleep and not knowing anything what happened in last 1 or 2 seconds, I was telling her What are you doing? What are you doing? Well, all she was trying is to take back the control of the car. As I was in a half lyed down position and not in a sitting position I had no way to jump and hold the steering to help her control the car. Even if I had, I think that would not help the situation. So what happened inevitably within next second or so is that the whole car started going a full round circle - the back of the car moving forward 180 degrees and at the same time to that flat sandy side of the road. In other words the car was falling to the side of the road at a very high speed, front side backward. At that time when the car started spinning or circling, I knew Shusmita had lost control of the car and whatever happens from now on would be random and we can't help it. The 2 possibilities that popped up in my mind as most likely to happen - was a car from behind will not be able to break on time and would hit us directly from behind OR our car will fell down into the side of the road. The first thing didn't happen but the second thing did - within next 4/5 seconds we were down in the side of the road, lets call it gutter; as there was neither any shoulder nor any island or divider there. The car at the speed of 75 mph started flipping in the sky and the first hit it landed was on my side in the windshield and roof. Not only once the car rolled and I didn't dare count how many times, but it could be anywhere between 3 to 6 times. The final landing of the car was in regular normal position. During the flipping of the car, as I didn't know what's in the side of the road, I thought it might be a canyon memorizing our recent Grand Canyon trip and we might fell down few thousands feet. I was thinking - oh, so it's ending up this way! Almighty, please make it as painless as possible! Fortunately, we had more blessings on us than I thought and the gutter was no more than a few feet deep.
The first thing I did after the car rolling stopped was to check if Shusmita and Ahyan are fine. At a first glance, they looked fine to me and I myself felt okay. So I switched ON the emergency light and tried to come out of the door. The door didn't open with a gentle push so I thought I will break the window. Not to my surprise, the window was already broken so I could come out of the window. And the car was completely destroyed looking from outside! I saw a few people on the opposite side of the highway coming acorss and shouting - Is there Anyone there? Are you okay? I replied - we are alive. Please call 911.
Then I saw blood coming out of my right hand and dropping on my jeans but I was neither feeling pain nor I was scared. I went to the back passenger side of the car to take Ahyan out of the car seat who was just starring at us as he came out of sleep. Before I could reach him, Shusmita already pulled him to her lap into the driver's seat. I went to the driver's door and couldn't open the door with the left uninjured hand. The guys across the street came by that time and helped Shusmita and Ahyan bring out of the car. They were so helpful and decent guys as well as of huge figures. They were having such a startled blank look at me when they first saw me come out of the window of the car! I thank them here once more. The condition of the car was not very visible to me as it was dark despite the light of the car and I couldn't find out my glasses. Despite that I could imagine easily that my favorite Honda Civic Sedan EX 2006 is gone forever. I was thanking almighty that what a survival we had just had!
Within 5 to 10 minutes the California Highway Patrol (CHP) came and within another 5 minutes came the fire brigade and ambulance. Well, once I found we were comparatively safer the first thing I thought is whether all our belongings were there in the car. What I saw is many things spread around here and there across the sands. So the first bag I tried to find out was my office Laptop bag and then my recently bought Kindle. I had to walk around 50 feet to pick the Kindle from sand. Although the police officers were telling me not to walk and stand steel in one place for my own safety I didn't stop until I found my Kindle. The immediate image in my mind was - I am lying down in the hospital bed and I must find the Kindle so that I can finish books after books during those boring bed rest times that are waiting for me next few days or weeks. Shusmita's
iPhone was there hanging in the car charger but my iPhone was lost. Although iPhone is costlier than Kindle, I didn't resume searching for it as soon as I found the Kindle and followed the instruction of the police standing along the back side of the car. There were sands everywhere in our bags, dresses, devices, pants, pockets, hair etc. Even right now 2 days after the accident I find sands coming out of my wallet. I called Ezaz's mobile number first to tell him the situation so that he is aware of the accident and stays stand by with my other friends in Fremont for whatever I may need help on as next steps. While Shusmita was explaining me why and how the accident happened, I was consoling her and telling not to worry much about this and take it as a lifetime experience. I was even telling her that if I get my iPhone now, I will post a twitter message that we just survived an accident!
After a little while I started feeling dizzy and told the ambulance people that I might loose consciousness any time. So they packed me in a stretcher as well as Ahyan as patient and started doing different emergency checks on the way to KERN Trauma Medical Center. They were so habituated with accidents that they did everything routinely with care and high level of professionalism.
I hear people sometimes complaining how bad is America or living in USA. Well, I can't see of any other country (except your motherland which is always above any country on earth for no specific reason) that can have such a high quality of service and still get complaints over and over so that the level of service goes even to a higler level. We spent the whole night in KERN, Bakersfield and after my X-Rays didn't find anything major except glass inside my hand, they released us in the morning. Of course before releasing they did a small surgery on my right hand to took a glass from inside which needed only 2 stiches. But my pain in the lower right back was increasing over time although they didn't find any broken bones near that place in X-Ray. Urine test for internal bleeding also found only 0 to 2 percent blood level which is negligible.
Noel from Los Angeles drove almost 150 miles to pick us in the morning. He baught a car seat for Ahyan from Walmart and we picked some medicines from Walgreens before reaching the Devon's Body Shop at noon where my car was towed last night. CHP told us that we will get a police report mailed in 5 to 7 business days and they could not locate the drunk driver who caused the accident to us.
Here are some pictures of my damaged car to have an idea the extent of the shock - http://picasaweb.google.com/ashikuzzaman/CarAccidentOnHighway5June2009#
By the time we reached Dev0n's, Shahriar and Nitol reached the same place driving more than 250 miles from Fremont. We had lunch in a mexican restaurant and reached back home by evening. On the way back, I could tell my Uncle in New York and called Farmers to report the accident. Some of my friends who were anxiously waiting for our arrival, came with food and we had some conversations on what happened. I only emailed my manager and 2 of my colleagues that I survived an accident and will contact back to them later. At night I talked to Dhaka to my parents and in-laws and informed them of the accident with a softer way so that they don't get scared.
Morning today while talking to my manager, I was happy the way he supported me. I always tell people and telling here once again that Salesforce.com is an amazing place to work in despite its competitive environment.
Now I feel like I have a got a new life! Thanks Almighty, you have given 3 of us a chance to start anew!!