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Paw Paw, Michigan

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 My name is Dave, I'm 18, I live in Michigan, and I had a flawless driving record until 3:15 pm of May 22nd, 2001

After a water balloon fight at my high school in celebration of the last day for seniors, I took my brother and two of my friends home. My brother (Dan, 15) was sitting in the back seat, behind the drivers seat. After I dropped off my friends, I told him he could move up to the passenger seat. He said no, because he was still soaking wet and didn't want to mess up my seats any more than he already had. That decision to stay in the back seat could have very well prevented several serious injuries as well as saved his life.

My car, a 1991 White Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser, had water spots from the water balloons on it. I always babied that car, and decided to take it to the local car wash before the water dried in the hot May sun.

Approaching the car wash, I slowed down and put my blinker on (Step 1 in the Map). I looked, saw no one coming, and began my left turn. I was looking at the driveway of the car wash when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I looked up, saw a flash of blue and yellow, then heard a very loud crash (Step 2).

When I opened my eyes again, my windshield was spider-webbed, the airbag (10 years old and it still deployed without a hitch...thank you Oldsmobile) had deployed, and I was facing east...the impact had turned my 3750lb car 180 degrees (Step 3). My brother was choking and said he couldn't breathe.

I forced my door open and pulled him out of the car immediately, and made sure he was ok. Fuel and oil was spilling out of my car quickly and I didn't want him stuck in it if something ignited. It then occurred to me I didn't know who or what I hit. I looked up from my brother and saw a Michigan State Trooper Tahoe in the car wash parking lot, with it's front end totaled. I would later find out that the driver of the Tahoe was on patrol for his first day of training, and he was not familiar with the area.

Investigators found not even a foot of skid marks; the State Trooper never touched his brakes. Due to those facts and my attitude of responsibility for the accident when the police arrived on the scene, I was only charged with "Improper Left Turn"; a $70 ticket, opposed to "Reckless Driving", "Failure to Yield", and various other charges that would have certainly ended up in the loss of my license and over $1500 in fines. I thank the Michigan State Police for their generosity.

The accident happened so fast, I didn't even have time to tense up. This probably saved me from a number of broken bones. My brother and I suffered minor injuries...I have a scar on my knee and waist, my brother has scars across his chest from the seat belt.

The passenger side of my car (where my brother WAS going to sit) suffered the worst of the impact, and the cockpit collapsed slightly, but other than that the interior was completely intact. The driver of the Tahoe bit through his tongue, and the passenger, his instructor, fractured a few ribs and tore ligaments in his knee.

Both airbags in the Tahoe deployed. Everyone was wearing seat belts. Everyone walked away from that without any serious injuries.

The paramedic told me that if I hadn't worn my seat belt, they'd be putting pieces of me in a plastic bag instead of sending me home.

I guess my advice from this to everyone would be wearing your seat belt WILL save your life, and to take your time on busy just doesn't make sense to be in a hurry all the time. When you think about it, it's better to be late, healthy, and have your car in one piece, than to rush and risk you, your passengers, and your vehicle's well-being. I loved my car so much, and now it's gone...if you really love your car, then please...just take your time when driving.

Thank you for reading my story.

Dave P.

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