Sarah, Jakob, and I went to Florida for vacation a few weeks ago. The week started out great with a stellar car-riding performance by Jakob on our way down, and the good times continued on right through the week. The ride home, however, was not so great. I don’t blame Jakob, who increased his fuss time by 40 minutes or so, because really, less than one hour of fussing during a combined 42 hours of time in the car is amazing. I blame the bad drive home on what happened just south of Atlanta.
I was driving on I-75 North, half an hour south of Atlanta. Sarah was asleep in the passenger seat, and Jakob was snoozing in his car seat. There were four lanes on my side of the highway, and I was in the second lane from the left. I was aggravated for a couple of miles, because a lady in a Kia Sorrento tailgated closely enough that I could see the annoyed look she had on her face. I’ve never liked being tailgated, and I appreciate it much less so now that I have the greatest child ever in the backseat. Now, having a bit of the ADD, my eyes are always bouncing when I’m driving: front, side mirrors, rear view mirror, repeat, over and over and over. Where it may inhibit me in other settings, my active eyes and mind help me see a lot on the road.
I was mildly amused, as my eyes bounced back-and-forth, that there were cars shooting past us on both sides. There really wasn’t anywhere for the annoying lady to go, so her trip would just be impeded by what she viewed as my ridiculously slow speed. She, too, was diligently checking her mirrors, sighing in frustration, and hitting her steering wheel. I made her day. I saw a white BMW coming up on our right; she did not. She started to merge into the lane next to us, and the BMW driver had to slam on her brakes. That is not the only thing she had to do to avoid hitting the lady in the Kia. She also had to switch lanes, to the far right lane, but there was a semi going slower than everyone else around in that lane. She only had one choice to avoid impact: go off the road. So off the road she went. I saw her hit the grass going pretty fast, and then the car disappeared from sight, because there was some sort of drop off. Between me and the BMW at the time is this Kia. I saw the BMW go down, and I looked right at the driver of the Kia, whose mouth was agape. She slammed on her brakes. There was indecision on her face. Then she made up her mind: she floored it.
A semi and a pick up truck both immediately pulled over the check on the driver of the BMW. I couldn’t get there without causing my own accident, so I did something else. I called 911 and went after the Kia. The lady got off at the next exit, and I momentarily thought she was pulling off to recover and maybe call 911 herself, but she had no such scruples. Instead, she made a left turn, followed by a quick right onto a road that ran parallel to I-75 at about 60 MPH. She was a crafty one, but since I don’t think she knew I was following her, she wasn’t crafty enough. I lost connection with the 911 operators 3 different times, but I kept calling back, giving them updates on where we were. We drove for ten minutes before a police officer finally spotted us and came out after her. He was a Lamar Country Sheriff. He first went and talked to the driver of the Kia, and then he came back to me. I was instructed by the operators to stay by the cop car in case he had questions. He came back and told me that the incident had taken place in Monroe County, so he was not able to do anything. He did assure me, however, that he would talk to her about being more careful.
I was very upset the rest of the car ride home, which had about fifteen hours left in it. I was upset, because I thought the person in the BMW could have been seriously injured or dead. I was upset, because I felt like the lady that ran the person off the road took off, was caught, and merely given a stern talking to. I was also upset, because I felt like the police wasted thirty minutes of my time by letting her go. I was mostly upset, because I was thinking about how no matter how safely I drove, Sarah and Jakob were still vulnerable, because I can’t control the idiocy of others. I have been bothered on and off about this for the last two weeks. I have thought about it, dreamed about, and prayed about it.
Yesterday afternoon, I received a voice mail from a man in Georgia. He got my name and phone number from the 911 call. He started out by giving his name, telling me how he got my information, and telling me that his daughter was the driver of the BMW. My stomach immediately turned over. He didn’t sound too old, so if his daughter was driving, my mind immediately decided she would be an older teenager. I was relieved, however, by the statement immediately following: “…that was my BMW, and my daughter was driving. She’s okay. She wasn’t hurt.” What a relief! He needed to talk to me about his insurance company, who needs to speak with me about what happened. I can rest more easily tonight, because I know the person who I thought was seriously hurt or possibly dead is, in fact, just fine. And although I’d been pretty aggravated for having felt my time was wasted that day, it turns out it was not. My testimony to the insurance company will help out the family that owns the BMW. Without it, the insurance company may not have covered the cost of fixing the car. So the guy I spoke with today was extremely grateful for what he viewed as my selfless pursuit of justice. I’m still not sure if it was selfless or selfish anger over what could have happened to us. Either way, it all worked out, and the ending was much greater than the lead-in.