I heard the siren, three hundred yards away, over on the interstate highway. "Must be a wreck," I thought, then went back to work on my houseboat. Minutes later the phone rang. Barbara soon came running out to me with the phone. The police were calling. Corey and his family were involved in a wreck. Three in the car, one ejected. Come to the emergency room. Just the bare facts.
We arrived at the emergency room well ahead of the ambulance. We were anxiously awaiting when the ambulance showed up. Caylie came out first, just a baby, strapped tightly to a board, and screaming her head off. She looked around, within her limited field of vision, and saw Barbara and me. She stopped screaming, and smiled at us. We have never seen a smile quite so beautiful. Christi came next. She was also strapped down, but seemed alert, responsive, and, everything considered, remarkably calm. Corey was not in the ambulance.
He arrived moments later in a car. When he got out, he was beyond emotional. Way beyond that. As best he could, he was telling us he was driving behind Christi, in his car. A wheel had came off a trailer they were about to pass, hit her car in front, and the car did end over end flips, at least 12 rolls, then another flip, landing upside down. He reached through the broken back window, cutting his arm, and got Caylie out, but could not get Christi out. He was too racked by emotion to tell us more. Well, I knew Corey was totally distraught, probably in shock, far too upset for me to buy into all that. Nobody could have survived what he had just described to us.
It was determined that Caylie and Christi had only scratches and bruises, no broken bones, and as far as they could tell, no internal injuries, but Christi had a concussion, and both were cut up by flying objects in the car. Corey settled down enough that we began to get the whole story.
The family was driving home from church, driving both cars because Christi had early choir practice. They both stopped at Western Sizzlin', at mile marker seventy- three of I-30. Being Easter Sunday, it was closed, so they and their friends decided to drive on down to Wendy's, at exit seventy eight. Corey buckled Caylie into her infant seat, strapped in the middle of the back seat. Starting to his car, for some reason, he stopped, turned around, went back to Caylie, and tightened up all the straps really good. Corey followed Christi in his car.
Approaching mile marker seventy-four, Christi started to pass a pickup pulling a horse trailer. A wheel came off the trailer, hit the front of the car. That broke the car's front axle, starting the series of end over end flips and rolls, ending upside down in the median, with one last end over end flip, right beside mile marker seventy four.
Corey pulled up behind. Later, a friend who happened to be nearby described the horrible sounds of anguish from Corey as he rushed to the car. Caylie was hanging upside down. The only way he could get to her was through the broken back window, which he did, cutting his arm. When Caylie emerged, he checked her over as quickly as he could, passed her off to a stranger standing beside him, saying, "Don't leave my sight with this baby," and rushed to Christi. As he tried to get her out, a fire started. A man from the interstate showed up with a fire extinguisher, and put it out. Christi was hanging upside down, and he could not get her out. About that time, the ambulance and police arrived. They had trouble getting her out, having to use the Jaws of Life.
Once Christi was out, and being strapped to a board, a paramedic tried to get Corey on a stretcher.
Corey was bleeding more than anyone there, and the paramedic would just not believe he had not been in the car, and ejected.
Christi, not one to get unduly excited, later described her thought processes as the wreck progressed. "Well, that's one more flip, and I'm still alive!" The car was a mess. Completely flattened on top, except for the two places where a human could have possibly survived. They just happened to match the two places where Christi and Caylie were. The paramedics working the wreck said that upon arrival, they had no expectations of finding anybody alive, much less a four month old baby. They added that the car seat straps were so loose, one more roll and she would have flown. Good thing Corey had just tightened them up.
I went to the site the next day. Car parts were strewn along the road. From the location of the first car part thrown off, to the final destination of the wrecked car, one hundred yards. Twelve rolls and three flips? You be the judge. Our family dodged two major bullets that day. We are always being told, wear your seat belts, all the time, most accidents are within one mile of home. Well, my family has been in seven accidents, mostly minor, none fatal. How many within one mile of home, as the crow flies? Five. For your own safety, please do as I say, but in all honesty, not necessarily as I do. I hate being hypocritical.
Caylie, early on, assumed the role of seat belt enforcer in our family. Nobody is perfect, but I sure haven't found any flaws in her yet. At eighteen, she just got her first car, right after returning from the mission fields of Jamaica. God, it seems, had his reasons for sparing this girl.
If you live near Arkadelphia, judge this story for yourselves. The car came to rest even with mile marker seventy-four. The first car part thrown off was even with the brown sign just south of it.
This story had been in my head nearly eighteen years. It automatically replays, in living color, every time I drive by those two signs. I now know the story very well. I needed no notes to write this.
My son in law, Mickey, a paramedic, described a roll over wreck they worked. A man was dead, but no marks were found on his body. Finally, a mark that looked just like the top of a coke bottle top was found on his temple. Every loose, even modestly heavy object becomes a deadly missile in a rollover wreck.