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Lessons Learned from a Car Crash

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Lessons Learned from a Car Crash

Shayna Goldstein, Opinion Editor

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It is an excruciatingly early morning. I get onto the freeway at Coldwater Canyon and head towards school. I make my way over to the left most lane and begin my long drive to zero period. La La Land playing in the background, I would have never imagined what happened next.

Suddenly, the car in front of me swerves to the left and crashes into the car in front of her. What just happened? What do I do? I slam on the breaks. Not enough time. Before I even have a second to think, I smash into the car in front of me. I don’t remember seeing anything, but I can’t shake the loud POP of the airbag, the feeling of being smacked against the large beach-ball that saved my life, or the smell of burning stuck in my nose. Fight-or-flight takes over, and I park my car and try to escape. My door is jammed shut. I push the door down with my shoulder and look around. What just happened?

I grab my phone and called my mom. “What do I do? I’m scared?”

Shaking uncontrollably I do what she told me to do. I call 911.

“911 what’s your emergency?”

“I was just in a car accident.”

“Where are you?”

“I’m right before the Woodman exit on the 101.”

“Do you need an ambulance?”

“I don’t know, I think I’m okay, but I honestly can’t tell.”

Suddenly, out of the car in front of me, a woman in her twenties falls out of her car. Limping towards me she sits on the ground and pulls up her pant leg. It’s bruised all around her lower leg. I sit with her. She doesn’t speak English.

“It’s going to be ok,” I tell her.

A man walks from the second car involved in this four car accident.

He asks, “What happens now?”

“I have no idea,” I reply.

Finally, after fifteen minutes filled with fear and calls with my mom, the police arrive. They shut down the freeway. The police officer asks me to drive to the right shoulder into safety.

“I don’t think I can get back into that car,” I tell him. “I’m too scared.”

He drives it to the other side. I walk across the freeway. I see my mom across the way. I run to her. I cry in her arms. I cry and I cry and I cry.

Urgent Care tells me I’m fine. I can’t dance in the Winter Performing Arts Festival, Spirit Rally, or Homecoming, but I’m fine. My car is totaled, but I’m fine.

“At least you’re alive.”

“At least you didn’t bruise.”

“At least it wasn’t worse.”

But how much worse could it have been? I wasn’t okay. I asked my mom to take me to school because maybe at school I wouldn’t have to think about it. Everyone knew. I told the story.

“Shayna, are you ok?”

I told the story.

“OMG Shayna, what happened?”

I told the story.

I was scared. I will forever be scared. From now on, every time I step in a car there will always be a piece of me afraid. It’s extremely difficult to be in a car when every single time you brake you picture your car smashing into the one in front. You swear you hear the POP of the airbag and smell that burning stench. It’s embarrassing to ask your friends to drive slower or not to be so close to the car in front of them. They aren’t driving unsafely, but you are so afraid.

Since this accident happened so recently, I have no idea how it will affect my life in the future. Will I ever be the same?

Thinking about this question I realized that when living in Los Angeles getting in a car accident is near inevitable. After hearing senior Rafael Monkarsh’s story, I understood that I am not the only one in the world or even in our community who has experienced something like this.

After spring break last year, Rafael was involved in an accident that changed his life. He was driving towards a calming, serene hike to embrace nature and take pictures of the beautiful flowers. A large hole in sight ahead of him, he quickly swerved to avoid it. The next thing he knew, his car had fallen over on its side.

“I still remember the sound of the airbags as they exploded next to my ears. The smell still haunts me.”

From that moment on, his life changed. With a new mindset and new car, Rafi was able to become a safer, a more aware, and all around a more responsible driver.

“I drive differently now,” he said. “I’ll never forget it.”

Although these stories are excruciatingly frightening and I hope that no one will ever have to experience anything like this, that hope is not realistic. The fact is that accidents like this happen every day, and we can either choose to be afraid and refuse to drive, or we could learn from these moments to be safer, better drivers.

About the Writer
Shayna Goldstein, Opinion Editor

Shayna Goldstein is a senior and it's her first year working for the Prowler. She is on the Varsity Dance Team and enjoys long beach days and making people...

1 Comment

One Response to “Lessons Learned from a Car Crash”

  1. Jonah Weisberg on January 24th, 2018 9:20 am

    So sorry to hear something terrible like this happened to you, Shayna. Thank you for sharing your story. Makes me really consider how I drive. Who knows, you might’ve just saved my life. 🙂

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