On April 26, my family and I witnessed a horrific car accident on Hwy. 65 in Ham Lake. A small, white four-door pulled out in front of a truck traveling northbound at a speed of about 65 miles per hour. The truck smashed into the driver’s side of the car and spun it numerous times, with the last spin sending it to its final resting spot in the ditch.
The crash occurred at one of those numerous cross streets with no traffic light where only driver daring and perhaps a guardian angel enables commuters to cross safely. I was two cars behind the truck, and if my daughters, 11 and 8, had not argued two seconds longer at Cub Foods over what type of cheesecake they liked, it could have been me and my family involved in the accident. What seemed like a nuisance to me, acting as referee, turned out to be a blessing on this night.
After witnessing the crash, I instructed my wife to call 911. I sternly told the kids to stay in the car (adrenaline had already kicked in), pulled over and rushed to the white car expecting to see the worst — a demonstration of how fragile life and the human body can actually be. What I found instead was the driver of the white car, a young girl named Amanda, breathing and talking, albeit showing signs of head trauma.
She complained of shoulder, knee and head pain, but what I will remember most vividly is her repeatedly apologizing for damaging the truck. Amanda had compassion at a time when most are focused only on themselves.
I held Amanda’s head stable as best I could while looking for any bleeding that I might need to stop. Thankfully, there was none visible. When emergency personnel arrived and began to tend to Amanda, I immediately returned to my car, knowing that first responders don’t need others in their way.
The accident left what I hope will be a lasting impression on my daughters, although I hope they don’t take the experience as an excuse to argue more frequently over dessert. Certainly my 11-year-old was affected. She could not stop asking whether I thought Amanda was OK and continued to ask me to check the news on Sunday. Thankfully, there wasn’t any. No news is good news, right? I hope Amanda is doing well, but I may never find out, and I will accept that.
I suppose nothing can be done about cross streets with no traffic lights. After all, businesses need to survive and in order to survive they need customers to have access. Safety and common sense don’t always prevail when battling the “importance” of traffic flow.
My daughters will both be driving that road in just eight years. Perhaps this experience will one day keep them from making the same mistake that Amanda made. Hopefully, they will choose to go the extra mile to a traffic light instead of relying on a guardian angel.
Ben Greene lives in Ham Lake.