That is my car, Kate the Corolla. She's hanging out in the median of I40 in this picture.
We started out by just barely hitting the rumble strip on the right hand side of this slight curve, but with the rain it was enough to send us spinning. If you look closely you can see the tracks where our car entered the median after hydroplaning out of control. God was watching over us. We crossed the left lane, but there were no other cars around us at 6:30ish in the morning on a Saturday. Had it been a weekday, our story would likely be much different. We missed hitting either the hillside or guardrail head-on and instead "glided" down a drainage ditch until our car buried up in the muddy bank at the bottom. Again, another section of this part of the interstate or even a few feet in either direction and I doubt I'd be able to write this story. I say, "glided" but, well, it felt like I was strapped into a bouncy ball. You can see from the tire tracks that we bounced between the sides of the ditch back and forth on our way down. But the wasn't the only thing we were hitting.
The ditch is lined with large rocks and jagged slabs of concrete to help with drainage, and it felt like our car was hitting them, bouncing upward into the air, and then down upon the next one all the way down as we were move in a back and forth motion between the sides of the ditch. So in a count of the motions we took: 1. Spin, 2. Horizontal impacts, 3. Vertical impacts, and 4. Rotation. We never made a full rotation but it felt like I was on this part of a roller coaster with our car careening up and down in the air.
I know it all happened very quickly, but it feels like it took at least 5 solid minutes to stop. Jared was driving and I was looking down as we hit the rumble strip and I felt us begin to spin. I can remember screaming and trying to look out and see what was happening but everything outside my window was a blur. However everything in the car was in slow motion. I had a cup of gas station coffee in my hand, and I can remember watching my lid fly off and my coffee become a fountain. As the coffee was hitting me I remember thinking, "That's hot, but not burning." I remember wondering if we were going to roll and beginning to pray. According to Jared all I was saying aloud was, "Oh God", and to be honest all I could add in my head was "HELP", but even in the 10 seconds or less it took for all this to happen I knew that God was with us no matter what happened.
Once we stopped I remember looking down at myself, breathing in, and thinking, "I'm alive." My next action was to look at Jared and start screaming, "Are you ok?" over and over while he did the same to me. Once we were reassured the other had made it we got out of the car very quickly to assess things. This required finding my shoes since I had taken off my sandals while Jared was driving.
Some motorists in the oncoming lanes had seen us have the accident and had already called 911 and were coming to check on us. One man waited with us until we saw help pass us in the oncoming lanes - they had to drive and extra five miles to the next exit to turn and come back to us so we waited at least 15 minutes for emergency help to arrive - but since we were walking around and could convince him we were fine he went on his way.
Help finally arrived. We didn't need any medical treatment - I wan't a bit sore right after the accident thanks to adrenaline, but I had a very sore neck and back the next day (I'm down to just being a bit stiff today). We waited for 2 hours for the tow truck to make it and figure out how to get us out of our hole, but the State Troopers were very nice, and I got the experience of sitting in the back of a squad car for over an hour, since it was still raining. It was quite the novel experience for me, but I hope to never be in one again. The saddest part was watching my car drag it's exhaust along the road the five miles to the Carthage exit on the back of a tow truck. I loved that car.
All I can think about is how blessed we are. God spared us for a reason on Saturday, and I know that he has something planned for our lives. I know that good will come from our experience, because my God plans all things for good. I can't begin to understand how this fits into the bigger plans for our future, but even with bruises on my knees and elbows and a slightly stiff body, I will praise him.
So we are perfectly fine, happy, and healthy. We are grateful for all things and have faith that even amid chaos, God loves us and will provide for our needs. We are waiting on the insurance company to have our car towed to Cookeville to a local body shop for an estimate on the damage to determine if it is totaled or not.
We believe the frame is likely bent, even though it looks like the body is in good condition from the pictures.
We also know that the undercarriage and exhaust are trashed as it was dragging down the road as it was towed. The front wheels also no longer turned, so the front suspension must be ruined. The force of the crash popped our trunk open, which left a trail of stuff in the median. There is no visible damage to the trunk lid itself, but it will no longer shut, and when it was being towed it looked as though the back end was hanging at a different angle than the rest of the car.
However it was still running (roughly) when Jared turned the engine off after we stopped, so Toyota built us a beast of a car. Our passenger area stayed completely intact and protected us well, while the outer parts of the car absorbed most of the forces. We are praying that if the frame has been damaged that the car will be ruled as totaled. I don't feel comfortable driving a car with a reshaped frame, and I wouldn't feel ok with selling it to someone else to drive either. If it is totaled then our full coverage will pay most of the rest of our loan, and our Gap coverage will cover not only the rest of what we owe on the car, but also our insurance deductible, meaning we will break out even, and only need to save a down payment on a new car. If it can be repaired, we will only owe our deductible, but at this point we are praying that she will be totaled. Kate was a wonderful car, and I loved her, but she's done her job, and those are forces a car is only designed to get you through one time.
On Sunday, the day after our wreck, we were blessed with the opportunity to serve with our church. We've been on the planning team for months helping to put things together for The River Community Church's SummerFest at the fairgrounds. We were able to give away 1000 gift certificates to kids in our area so that they could buy new shoes to start school with. Jared and I were in charge of the bouncy houses, and while things started off a little rocky, with bouncies full of water from the night's rain, we got them up and running and I got the chance to mingle with some families. I'm not sure I've ever felt more blessed to serve my God. I hurt the whole day, and that slowed me down a bit, but being able to walk around and love on people was wonderful. How blessed are we to be here, to have another beautiful day to worship a loving God who cares for our every need. How blessed am I that I can help other people by providing, not just a new pair of shoes, but also a warm smile and a safe place to bring their children to play. How blessed am I that I can sit in a seat and listen to music that glorifies my loving God, and know that the people around me who are ready to accept God's love are listening, and that I got to help provide that opportunity. I was surrounded by people all day who would never consider stepping inside a church to hear the word of God, but I was given the platform to show them God's love through my actions, and hopefully make God a little less scary and a lot more real for them. We were blessed to be alive and share God's love this past Sunday.