Around 8:45 a.m. on Jan. 19th, I was traveling north on I95 towards Providence, RI. I was driving in the lane second from the left on a four lane road. I looked down the road and saw headlights of an approaching car coming directly towards me the wrong way on the interstate. I do a lot of hiking with a GPS, so I’m fairly certain the oncoming car was approximately a quarter of a mile away. I also noticed that the car was traveling at high speeds. I’m estimating over 70 mph due to the fact that this car was passing others on the south bound side of the interstate.
I quickly moved over to the adjacent right lane. Almost immediately the car swerved hard and was now in my lane heading straight for me. I then moved back over to the adjacent left lane as there was no space for me on the right. Again, the car swerved and was in my lane. At this point, the car was a little over two car lengths in front of me. I wasn’t sure where to go as the car seemed to follow my every move. I decided to wait until the last moment to get out of the way.
So, I slammed on my brakes. The back of my Camry seemed to lift up and I began to fishtail. I glanced quickly in my mirror and saw all the cars behind me screeching and fishtailing also. At this point the car coming the wrong way slammed on it’s brakes and fishtailed so dramatically that the car was now oriented perpendicular to me and straddling two lanes. I was about to hit square between the driver’s door and back door of the oncoming car. I made a decision to try and jump into the right lane, but I had no time to look and see if a car was there. I swerved hard while I was still pressing my brakes into the ground. I immediately heard screeching, heard a bump on my right and saw a white car swerving to get out of my way.
The oncoming car missed me by less than half a foot. As the car’s taillights went by my window, they were so close I could have reached out and touched them. I looked in my rear view mirror and saw that car spinning down the road and hitting a couple of other cars behind me.
It took a moment to understand what was happening initially, i.e. headlights coming at me on the wrong side of the road. I felt that I had a lot of time to think about what was going on and make multiple decisions, but based on how fast they and I were traveling, the events outlined above could not have taken more than 2 – 4 seconds. I was traveling about 60 mph and as I mentioned earlier, I estimate the other car was going around 70 mph or more.
I slowly moved over to the right lane and followed the car I bumped until we could safely pull over and talk.
I got out and said to the guy, “Can you believe what just happened?”
He asks, “Was that car going the wrong way down the interstate?”
I said, “Yes and he was going at high speeds.” We began to look at our cars. We found no nicks, bumps, scratches, dings or scraped paint. The only thing we found was a slightly loose mirror on the guy’s car. Mine had no damage whatsoever.
I told the guy, “Listen, I’m just glad I’m still alive. Take my card and I’ll gladly pay to fix your mirror.”
He said, “No. Have a happy New Year.” He gets in his car and drives away. Unbelievable!
I called the Rhode Island State Police to report what had happened, but fortunately they had already arrested the suspect.
When I replay the incident back in my head, one crucial point continues to stand out. At the moment I tried to move over to the right lane and bumped that car, one image is burned in my mind. I was not far enough over on the right not to get hit. In fact, my view straight ahead was about even or slightly behind the back tire of the oncoming car, which at this point was about 10 feet away. I don’t know how I missed the car. Did it straighten out in that microsecond before impact or was it a miracle? Did the car somehow pass right through mine? I believe a miracle happened.
I must say that in my world view or belief system, things that seem impossible to others are quite possible for me. I have seen too many inexplicable things in my life. So, I have over the years come to a belief that all things are possible. And, frankly, I continue to experience the impossible.
Tomorrow, I’ll discuss what this incident has made me think and ponder for the last 48 hours.