by Josh Lewis
My trip started out as a usual drive up I-25 through Denver. A light rain began, and I thought, Nice, things are warming up. However, soon my pleasant thoughts turned to frightened ones. As the rain hit the frozen ground, it turned to ice. I reduced my speed under 25 miles per hour and before long was passing accidents on the side of the road.
Finally, my exit ramp appeared. But as I exited, the car began to fishtail, and the next thing I knew, I was sliding sideways down a steep incline. The rest is fuzzy in my memory. I saw the ground rush up to meet me on the driver’s side, then heard a crunching noise. For a moment, I was back in the correct position, then I wasn’t. The car stopped.
Looking through the smashed windshield, I saw I was upside down. Looking around, I saw some blood. I crawled through the broken driver’s side window. As soon as I stood up, blood flowed into my face from some injury on my head.
Without thinking, I pulled my sweater off and pressed it to my scalp. The adrenaline was pumping so fast and hard I didn’t even feel the cold. I remember crying at some point.
I climbed to the ramp where I waved down the next driver. Thankfully, he was slowing already, because he had noticed my lights suddenly disappear from the off ramp, and wanted to be sure I was OK.
The stranger quickly helped me into his car and drove to the hospital. His name was Mr. Hughes. He asked my name, told me about himself and kept talking to keep me from going into shock. By the time we reached the emergency room, he had calmed me.
The emergency room was packed with other accident victims, but Mr. Hughes rushed me to the front of the line. One look at the blood was all it took to convince them. They took minimal information, and immediately rushed me to an operating room.
Mr. Hughes overheard my phone number, then called my house at his expense and explained what had happened to my sister. Only after I was put in a chair so the doctors could sew up the gash did Mr. Hughes say goodbye. Even then, he asked if there was anything else he could do.
That cold night in January 2001, I was told six times by doctors, nurses, and a police officer how lucky I was to be alive. Mr. Hughes was a man with enough concern for his fellow man that he slowed down because he no longer saw taillights ahead. While I probably would have survived, Mr. Hughes made my catastrophe bearable. Since I cannot thank him personally, let this story be his thanks.