First of all, EVERYONE is okay. Yes, despite how awful my car looks, remarkably, we're all juhhst fine. My Gma Rae was sitting in the front passenger seat and and my cousin Tyler's wife, Brianna, was in the backseat with their 2 yr old strapped in a childseat behind me. My Grams had to be taken in for x-ray that night and watched over at home. Her entire chest is deeply bruised from the airbag's deployment and she's still terribly sore, but she doesn't have a single scratch. In fact, she'd been doing well enough that she was sure and able to see the hairdresser the very next day for a new shampoo set.
Brianna had some glass picked from her face, and just last Sunday night, a tiny sliver more was removed from her right ear. She was scratched the worst of us, with a good pair of 2-inch long, thin scratches on the right side of her cheek, up near her ear. Right before we'd hit the cow, she'd taken off her seat belt to comfort her baby who was crying - ?!? - I know, I know...we were really lucky that Brianna wasn't seriously injured. Not having her seat belt on, however, allowed her to shield her son and to also keep hold of her fluffy Chihuahua, Issy. The baby had only a few tiny scratches at his neckline and some light bruising about his clavicle area, caused by the strain of his child seat restraints. And Brianna's little Issy, although desperately in need of a bath later on, not unlike the rest of us, was totally unharmed.
On Saturday, the day after the accident, I went in to see the hospital for a spinal x-ray to be sure I was fracture-free, and then I was treated for very mild whiplash and general muscle strain. I have a lot of muscle soreness and neck pain, but nothing too terrible. Both of my knees are deeply bruised, as both my feet had lost contact with the floor upon impact, both legs folding upward, hitting the underside of the steering wheel. Other than that, I have 4 itty bitty, extremely minor cuts on my face - - that alone is amazing because the windshield was resting on my face, laying over my hands and arms when the car stopped!!! Even so, I have only a few scratches on my left hand from shoving the windshield off of me.
What happened is this: Last Friday on the 27th at 7:45 p.m., I was driving on a small 5 mile-long stretch of rural highway between two small towns in southeast Idaho in Bear Lake County. On either side of the road, there's pasture, but both sides are supposed to be fenced. At the beginning of a rather straight stretch of the hwy road, an oncoming car passed me without time to give any kind of flashing brights to warn me of anything. Once the car passed and my eyes had barely readjusted, immediately thereafter, there was barely enough time for me to see a big black cow standing straight ahead. I didn't even see its head or its feet or legs - - just a big, very broad and very black cow side, and we slammed into her at 70mph, before I could ever touch the breaks. It was so fast, my Gma Rae never saw it coming, nor did Brianna.
So immediately after the passing of that oncoming car, my eyes saw the cow for a mere split second. The only reason I recognized it to be a cow is the fact that I already knew we were in cattle country, and I'd seen before what the side of a deer looks like in headlights, and this thing was black and 3 times larger than any deer I'd ever seen = thus, it was a cow. It happened so fast, I don't remember even having a chance to scream. I do know though exactly how fast I was driving, as just a couple minutes before the accident, my Grams had complained I was driving too fast [SIDE NOTE: Frankly, any speed over 45 mph is too fast for her. It's true Grams and you know it!], and I assured her I was driving just 5 over the 65 mph speed limit, having set my cruise control. So yeah, driving 70 mph, I hit that damn cow without a chance scream or to even hit the brakes.
As the photos indicate: All in split second time, the cow ripped off the entire front side of the driver's fender and bent that same side of the front axle, rendering that front tire almost useless. The cow then went up over the hood of the car, and shattered and caved in the windshield, and then the cow broke through my side of the windshield, and then moved further upward, falling off from the side of my car's front roof, denting inward and partially collapsing the car's rooftop, also tearing off the driver's side mirror.
What the photos clearly show, but can't exactly explain: On impact, the cow's side split and exploded open, and once she'd slammed upward onto the hood and into the windshield, the windshield collapsed and a trap-like door-like opening was created in the windshield on my side, allowing very wet, hot and very heavy and super smelly cow shit and cow stomach contents to funnel into the car, in a manner reminiscent of a salad shooter - - I had about 60 lbs of it on my lap alone. In fact, once the car had stopped moving, the wet heaviness and the steaming heat of all that crap on my lap, coupled with the firm resistance of my airbag, I thought I had a cow's head in my lap, and it was in that first moment when we'd stopped moving, not knowing what was on me, I nearly lost my cool - - although it was a no-brainer, determining what I had in my mouth. I think I spit and screamed for no more than 5 seconds, something along the lines of "I dunno what this is, I gotta get this off me, get me outta here," buhht quickly realized my screaming wouldn't help anyone.
Instead, I had to shove the windshield off me, and then I fumbled for the car's hazard lights and set the emergency brake. By that time, my Grams was able to crack her door open, engaging the car's interior light. We all began to frantically yell at one another, asking each other if everyone was okay - - any broken bones? any heavy bleeding? We all had cow shit in our hair and in our mouths, but that was really the very worst of it. Brianna called my aunt Brenda on her cell, who I'd spoken to only 2 minutes earlier, as later verified on her caller ID log, and Brianna told her we'd been in a car accident and to come quick. At the time, Brianna didn't tell Brenda how it had happened, but made it clear that we were all well enough that no ambulance was needed. Thereafter, all stuck in the car together, although I'm sure we were all in shock and a bit deliriously so, we actually began to joke around:
Me: Grandma, you got shit in your hair. You're gunna have to get a new shampoo set. [All of us then laughing together, knowing how particular she is about her hair, seeing her with the equivalent of a cow pie on the side of her head.]
Brianna: Well, now you can get your gray interior, Ang. [Referring to an earlier convo we'd had in the car while driving that night, about my Matrix and how much I liked it, and how if I had to do it over again, I'd change nothing except its black interior; that I'd prefer gray or beige.]
Me: The shit has really hit the ceiling. [Note the obvious photos included further below]
Grams: I dunno if I shit my pants or peed them! [My Grams is so small, she had lifted up and forward in her seat, enough so, the cow crap had landed behind her, so that she wound up sitting in it.]
The laughter wore off quickly though, as our surroundings sank in. We had to get out of that car. My Grams, with a 2nd adrenaline rush kicking in, bailed out her door, falling down into the bar pit. She had to crawl up and out from it, around to the back of the car. At the very same time, we realized 2 different cars of people had stopped to help us, including the car that had passed us just before the crash. Later on, once I had been pulled from the car, they told me how they had actually heard us hit the cow immediately after they had passed me, and that they had not seen that cow themselves until they were actually passing it, one second before I hit it head on. And another fellow and his family who had stopped to help, who actually got me out of the car, all said they'd seen the cows long before I hit one, but had returned to help move the cattle off the road, not realizing one had been hit until they drove up to it, lying dead in the middle of the road.
It was amazing how many people stopped to help. The first man at the scene, Jerry, who helped me get out, he gave jackets to Brianna and my Grams, and a woman, Katie (you can see the back of her blonde head in a couple shots), she gave us blankets from her car to keep us warm and helped to unload our things from my car. She even dug in the backseat to help find my cow-crap-laden purse.
The police were awesome and showed up 2 minutes after they'd been called. Also, my uncle Trent's boys, Tanner and Thayne, who could see from their home the lights of my flashers and the stopped cars on the hwy road, guessed right that someone had hit a cow (the second one that week), and they drove up the road from their house to check, showing up right after the 2 other cars that had stopped first. As Thayne and Tanner pulled alongside my car, I turned around and Tanner saw me first - - I think his eyes about popped out of his head, realizing it was his Las Vegas cousin who'd hit the cow they'd seen lying in the road, who's car was smashed, who had blood and shit smeared all over her face and in her hair. And shortly after the boys came, my aunt Brenda and uncle Kevin arrived in separate cars within 10 minutes... they'd been delayed some; my aunt Brenda was pulled over by the police for driving too fast through town, on her way to see us. It was then that she found out we'd hit a cow, as the policeman who'd pulled her over said he'd heard the report.
Just how lucky were we? - A very seasoned sheriff's deputy told us that night that if I'd seen the cow any earlier and had I tried to brake or swerve first, we would have probably lost our straight arrow trajectory, and would have gone right off the road, flying off into the deep bar pit, and we would have rolled at least twice - and we probably would have hit the cow anyhow... and we probably wouldn't have been able to walk away from an accident like that. But who knows...
What we do know is that I'd stopped the car just 4-6 inches from losing the car's balance and going off the road = any further and we would have had only one tire in contact with the road, which would have caused us to roll down into the bar pit. Also, past the point of impact, we could see where I hit the brakes, and that it took several feet before we came to a stop. Having not been able to brake before impact, and having lost contact with the foot pedals post-impact, I had hard time trying to secure my foot to the brake with all the shit piling in over my feet and the car floor. As for my steering, I tried as hard as I could to maintain a solid grip on the steering wheel, remembering the road was straight, trying hard to keep the steering wheel straight against the rightside pull created by the braking of my one good front tire. And couldn't see a thing!!! Nothing! My hair was plastered across my face with all the crap in it and in my mouth, and the airbag was up and the windshield was pushed in on my hands and arms, its bottom edge resting on the upper bridge of my nose! Once I stopped, the back driver's tire was clear off the ground by nearly 2 inches and the car was high centered, the front end tilted down towards the bar pit. The pictures totally fail to show just how slanted the car was and how deep the bar pit is... Anyone who tried to come around to that side of the car wound up standing only one-head above the base of the car door's frame.
And that poor damn cow: Once I was pulled out of the car and checked over by a policeman, I was coherent enough to not only take a gazillion photos of the scene, but to first locate flashlights in my car trunk and run off with Jerry down the road, in an effort to prevent others from hitting the cow I'd killed or any of the other cows out loose on the highway. We do know the owner of the cow was Dennis Hunzeker, by checking the ear tag, and we had several witnesses give their info. to the police. People who'd stopped and one of the sherriff's deputies helped haul the cow from the middle to the side of the road. We were later told that night and several times since then that it wasn't the first time the Hunzekers have failed to keep up their fence lines. The next morning, driving over to the accident site, in fact, one of the Hunzeker boys was out repairing the 10 ft wide gap they'd deliberately left open in their fence line. Yes, deliberately.
here and Part IV here , Part V here and Part VI here,
here and HERE and Part VII, the NOT so final word re: liability right here ...