Car accident at the sanctuary
Boy what a week at the sanctuary. It started off busy as usual -- feeding, cleaning, scooping, watering -- just the normal activities. And then suddenly…
A speeding Dodge Ram truck had missed the curve in front of our property and flipped over in the front yard, taking down the utility pole, mail boxes, and trees. When I ran outside and saw the overturned truck, I thought for sure no one could still be alive in there, but thankfully I was wrong. There stood a scared teenager with a dazed look saying “I’m so sorry...I’m so sorry” over and over again. I was dazed as well, but I did manage to call 911.
As you can imagine, this wreck started a whole chain of events that I would witness first-hand for the next two days. The fire truck, ambulance, highway patrol officers, and first responders arrived within 10 minutes. They immediately checked the kid for injuries (his name is Michael), and they called his dad. To our surprise, he was not hurt at all, well, at least not physically. You would have never known he had just crawled out of that smooshed pile of smoking metal all wrapped up in power lines and cable cords. He was one lucky boy.
The first responders immediately blocked off the road to traffic and made way for Duke Energy to deal with the utility pole and live power lines that were laying all over the road. It took a few hours, but they eventually had electricity back to our entire neighborhood. We were thrilled to get our power back because the pigs need a lot of water refills this time of year, and we have no water if there’s no electricity to the well pump.
Later that day, the towing company came to remove the truck. Fortunately they were able to maneuver around the surviving trees to minimize damage. Once they removed the car, all that was left was small pieces of the truck and a ton of broken glass. A neighbor came over to help with the clean up, and we ended up with a big pile of car parts, mailbox fragments, and chunks of wood and splinters from the utility pole.
Over the next couple of days, AT&T worked on the cable lines and our internet fiber cord, which was severed in the accident. By the middle of the second afternoon, we were back in business with the internet, and things were getting back to normal.
I’m writing this blog post to let everyone know about the accident, but the real reason goes deeper than that. Obviously emotions were flying high this week (from all those involved), but despite the damage and the interruptions in service and all the mental aftermath, I have learned a valuable lesson -- people are kind and have a desire to help. This was certainly my experience in all this mess.
I want to give a huge shout out to the hardworking Duke Energy and AT&T workers dealing with the extreme heat, the considerate towing guys who worked around my trees, the neighbors who came out to help, the policemen who stood in my yard and chatted about how lucky the kid was, the 911 operator who handled my stuttered request for help, the mailman who delivered my mail to the front door when there was no mailbox, and the Amazon driver who parked the Prime truck down the road and walked to my house to deliver a package -- ALL OF YOU. Thank you all for restoring my faith in humanity and making me realize that, despite what the news wants me to believe, people are generally kind, sympathetic, caring, and supportive.
I talked to Michael’s dad last night. He let me know that his son was still not showing any physical signs of pain from the wreck (thank God), but he was worried about his mental state. He said, “You just don’t go through something like that without it really affecting you, you know?” Yes, I know. Anyone who’s been in a bad accident knows that feeling of wondering what could have happened. We’ve pictured our parents getting “that call” and how they would react. We’ve thought about our funerals and who would come and speak. It’s all just terrifying, and it’ll make you feel incredibly grateful to be alive.
Michael’s dad and I talked for a little while longer, and it felt so reassuring to learn about his loving family. They are planning to come visit the animals soon, and this makes me so happy.
So take my advice. I don’t wish this experience on others, but if you do happen to be involved in something similar, notice the folks who come to help. Look directly into their eyes and take note of their genuineness. And I’m not just talking about your friends, family, and neighbors. I’m talking about complete strangers who are called to assist. Their days get disrupted, too. Say thank you, and tell them how much you appreciate their service. And then do yourself a favor -- bask in that warm feeling for as long as you can, thank your lucky stars for your life, and then pay it forward. I sure am.
Anna O'Neal, founder and caretaker at Jenna and Friends Animal Sanctuary