Friday, November 06, 2015

Underoos - Are They Deadly? Or Just Bad Luck?

To steal a line from The Goldbergs, way back in 1980-something, I was just like any other kid out there wearing Underoos.

It's okay to feel weird watching a bunch of kids dancing around in their underwear. But that's not the point here. My point is that I have a theory that Underoos are deadly. Or at least bad luck.

You see, it all started when my wife pointed out an ad for grown-up Underoos. I think there was something Star Wars related to what she was showing me but my reaction was a big fat no. Because I have a history with Underoos and it isn't a pleasant one.

Way back when in the 1980s, my dad would drive us around in an old Ford Econoline van. It was pea-soup green straight out of the 70s. It was huge. It was old and clunky. It had captain's chairs in the front and a bench in the middle and nothing in the back. That's about all I remember.

When we drove it around, because it was the only car that was functioning, I would always ride on the edge of the seat up front so I could see what was going on and so I could see the road. This meant that I had to wear my lap belt a little loose. It was never a big deal.

Until the accident.

I've been in a few car accidents in my life. But this is likely the most memorable for me. I can remember my dad and I went to Roma's, a local eatery, for dinner. As usual, I got a lollipop for dessert. We were on Route 206, heading up the hill after crossing 301, when there were headlights coming into view on the left side of the van. The top of the hill had a road that crossed over and it was the source of the car. My dad yelled something like "oh shit" or "hold on" and that was it. We hit the car.

I was knocked unconscious for a few seconds at least. We would find out later that I hit my head on the dash hard enough to crack it. I only had a small spot of blood on my forehead. We would also find out later that the lollipop I had in my mouth flew out and landed on the floor. I was very lucky I hit my head and not the lollipop. To this day, our family bans lollipops in any moving car.

When I came to, I tried to get out of the van. My door wouldn't open. The front fender had moved backwards to cover up the door preventing it from opening out. So I had to get out on my dad's side of the van. I don't remember smoke or flames or even bright lights. But I do remember the screaming baby. The sound doesn't haunt me. Never did that I can remember. It scared me in the moment though. My dad moved me off to the side and I think I stood somewhere near the scene but far enough away to be safe and be out of sight of the other car.

And that's the part that doesn't haunt me but does stick with me. The other car had four people in it. The screaming baby was in the rear on the driver's side. It was thankfully in a car seat and survived with barely a scratch. There was an older daughter in the rear passenger side. She had a broken hip, pelvis, leg, or a combination of. The driver was the father who suffered injuries but I don't know what or how many. The wife was in the front passenger seat and she died.

It gives me chills to think about that, especially now as I'm a father and husband. Death scares the shit out of me and when I dwell on it I get anxious and a bit panicky.

After the accident we went to the hospital to get checked out. We rode with a friend I think but he kept trying to get us to take a ride in the ambulance. Once at the hospital, we were checked and cleared. I think my dad has some bruising on his arms and was sore while I had the minor scratch on my forehead and scratch on my waist. The loose seat belt worked but the buckle dug into my hips. I remember wearing my Incredible Hulk Underoos and being embarrassed when they checked on me at the hospital. I guess I felt like a grown-up for having survived the wreck but here I was wearing little kid underwear.

In the end, my dad and I lived to drive again another day. The other driver ran a stop sign and unfortunately there were consequences. I'm sure my scars are nowhere as deep as the other family.

Speaking of which, if anybody out there has any information on the other family, the date of the accident, or even an official police report, I'd appreciate the information. I've always wondered what happened to the people in the other car. My dad doesn't remember the date or even the year of the accident. I'm doubtful the police have a copy of the report but I can't search for it until I know more about the accident.

2015-12-06 - Update - You can read an even longer, more detailed version of the story here.


Gayle said...

You were in first or 2nd grade. It was during the school year. You called me at 9 or so at night, Pacific Time, so I immediately knew something was wrong. When I asked if you and Dad were ok, you said yes. When I asked about the people in the other car, you said the baby was ok, but there was "a fatality". I asked if you knew what that word meant, and you said yes, you did. When I talked to Dad after that, he said he had not told you there was a fatality. A few days later you told me you read it on the report he had to fill out at the hospital. You were looking over his shoulder as he filled out the paperwork. That was one of the scariest times you called me. The other time was when Dad was "missing". Ugh. It sure was hard being far away from you. Never knew about the Underoos. Guess Santa shouldn't bring you any.

Juliet Pearrell said...

I must admit, that I am both sad and happy to read this.

This was a day that forever changed the trajectory of my life. I did not realize when I woke up that morning and spent the day with my Mother, that it would be my last. That I would only have her in my life for 12 years, 6 months and 21 days. My Sister was only 6 months old, she needed her also.

Her last meal, was her favorite. She told me numerous times that day, how much she loved me, as if she knew I really needed to hear it, one last time.

Later that night, I would gain consciousness in a Hospital, if only for a moment, to hear them tell my Father that my Mother had died.

I would awaken the next day, to believe it was all a dream, until my eyes opened to see a hospital room. My Mother's shoes in the corner of the room. My Father trying to explain. All I felt was pain, from the injuries sustained but more so, from the overwhelming sense of loss.

Staff at the Hospital protect me from mirrors, since my face/head were reconstructed and my lower body was in a cast. Members of the Fire and Rescue crews visited me and encouraged me daily.

I was released from the Hospital to attend my Mother's funeral service, stayed inside a van for the burial at Quantico National Cemetery.

Life is precious, so glad I lived to meet you and hear your side of this tragic story.