Chandler watched with horror as the idiot in the black Corvette spun toward him, out of control. There was nowhere to go. Nothing Chandler could do. He slammed on his brakes and reached over to protect the most valuable thing in his life. As if his arm could somehow save his wife from certain death had she not been strapped in with a seatbelt and passenger-side airbags.
The Corvette spun one more half turn as the automatic braking system on his Subaru Outback kicked into gear, bringing them to a complete stop faster than his reflexes would have provided. The laws of physics were called into question at how quickly the Subaru seemed to stop. The pickup truck in the next lane wasn’t quite so lucky. That Corvette’s one more half turn, and the Subaru’s otherworldly braking mechanism meant the pickup truck hit the Corvette, slamming it further up the road and out of their way.
Chandler glanced in the rearview mirror, hoping the cars behind them had decent brakes as well. The danger was far from over. They were on a curve and on a bridge and stuck between several cars piled up in front of them and speeding cars flying around a blind corner to their rear. A few other cars crashed into each other but somehow the Subaru’s shiny blue paint never received a dent or a scratch.
“Are you okay?” Chandler asked, breathless and heart racing.
“I think so.” Janette’s voice wavered with unshed tears. “I’m scared.” She also glanced behind them. The crunching of metal and breaking of glass had silenced as any cars still barreling toward them were far behind, around the bend where they’d see the pileup before it was too late.
“Stay here, I’m going to see if anyone around us needs assistance.” Chandler unbuckled his seatbelt and reached for the door handle.
“I’m coming with you,” Janette said, unbuckling her seatbelt as well.
He grabbed for her wrist to stop her. “Please just stay in the car! If anything were to happen to you… I would… oh my gosh. Please just stay here and be safe.”
“I am a mother, Chandler,” she said with annoyance in her voice. “I know how to do basic triage. There are probably people in these other cars who need help and I’m going to provide help as best as I can.”
Chandler couldn’t argue with that. “Please be careful.” He met her eyes with concerned resolution.
“You as well.” Without another word she was out of the passenger door, and he let himself out the driver’s side.
Janette headed for the nearest crashed car to check on the people there and Chandler hurried toward the front of the pileup to inquire about the drivers of the pickup truck and Corvette who had been the first to crash.
He could hear sirens in the distance but realized no emergency vehicle was going to get close unless some of the untouched vehicles got out of the way. Another man who was not injured approached from the other side and Chandler called out to him. “Can you head up to the front of the line of cars and see if you can get them to move out of the way?”
“I’m a doctor,” the man said. “Let me check on the injuries and you go tell the people in the cars to move.”
“Good idea, thanks.” Chandler shifted trajectory and headed for the frontmost vehicles, where people were starting to emerge with dazed expressions and wide eyes. He called out to them, “Can you help me move all these cars out of the way so emergency vehicles can get through?”
Together with several others they managed to direct traffic up and around and away from the crash site. Within a few minutes they had enough cars moved that Chandler hurried to move his own car. Janette was nowhere in sight, but he was confident she was helping someone, and they’d find each other later.
He had to drive quite far to get his car out of the way, but he was glad for having helped clear a path when a police car and ambulance came racing up the bridge from the opposite direction. Because of the cleared path, the ambulance was able to pull right up where they could be of greatest assistance.
Chandler wandered back through the crashed cars to see if there was anyone who still needed help. Mostly people were in shock from the trauma. Some had cuts and scrapes and injuries from inflated airbags, but otherwise were okay.
The driver of the Corvette wasn’t so lucky. Hearing the guy had been drinking alcohol wasn’t a shock. Learning he had life threatening injuries was sad. Finding out the man in the pickup truck was also seriously injured made Chandler angry.
None of this needed to happen. None of this would have happened if that jerk had been sober. Chandler looked around at the dozens of crashed cars, the dozens of injured and shocked people attempting to clean up the mess created by one reckless idiot who got behind the wheel of a Corvette after drinking alcohol.
After helping move more cars out of the way and assessing any other injuries that required attention, Chandler finally found Janette amidst all the chaos. They met each other’s gaze from a distance of about forty yards and Chandler sighed with relief. They strode toward one another, and Chandler tucked Janette into his arms and just held her. They didn’t speak; they just held each other.
Finally, Chandler pulled away and looked down into his wife’s tired face and said quietly, “We were lucky.”
“Can we get out of here?” Janette asked in a shaky voice. “I just want to find our hotel and go to bed.”
“Let’s go give a statement to the police along with our contact information and then we can leave.” Chandler kept his arm around his wife as he led her in the direction where multiple squad cars sat with lights still flashing. He would probably still be seeing flashing lights in his sleep that night. If he was able to fall asleep at all.