A near-death ex­pe­ri­ence


We have all read and heard about in­ci­dents where driv­ers have been se­verely in­jured and even killed from ob­jects go­ing through the wind­screen of their ve­hi­cle. A few years back on Auck­land’s South­ern Mo­tor­way a uni­ver­sal flange came off a truck and went over the bar­rier through the wind­screen of a ute trav­el­ling in the op­po­site di­rec­tion, killing the driver. More re­cently down Queen­stown way, early one morn­ing some­thing went through the wind­screen, again killing the driver. The po­lice spent ages scour­ing the road­side look­ing for what­ever it was. There was also a pas­sen­ger on a bus, in Auck­land again, who was killed when the wheel came off a truck, bounced across the road and into the front left wind­screen of the bus, hit­ting the front seat pas­sen­ger who died from the in­juries sus­tained. These sorts of things al­ways hap­pen to other peo­ple but never to you... un­til last month. For me, the dan­ger was real and too close for com­fort when I was driv­ing through Hamilton on the Avalon by­pass, an 80km/ h zone area last month. In a flash and a split sec­ond some­thing smashed my wind­screen as a large truck passed me in the op­po­site di­rec­tion. All I got was a glimpse, ac­tu­ally more of a blur of an ob­ject head­ing straight into the wind­screen di­rectly in front of my vi­sion and then no vi­sion. The wind­screen had taken a di­rect hit at head height and with very lim­ited vis­i­bil­ity I pulled the Range Rover over to the side of the road. The area is a no stop­ping area and there is no real ‘shoul­der’ to pull over onto so I was still pro­trud­ing into the lane of the traf­fic. Tak­ing a mo­ment to gather my thoughts I looked around at the amount glass that was now through­out the ve­hi­cle, front and back and also to the back of my left hand. There were small cuts on my hand and also on my fore­head and cheek. Get­ting out of the ve­hi­cle and around to the left hand side away from the speed­ing traf­fic I took stock of what had just hap­pened. The wind­screen had a de­cent sized hole in it and glass had show­ered all over me. There was a small amount of blood on my hand from the cuts but at least I was in one piece. I opened the left front door to check the dam­age and there on the front floor was a metal ob­ject about twice the size of a base­ball. It was bat­tered and un­recog­nis­able as to what it ac­tu­ally was. Even though I was stopped with an ob­vi­ously da­m­aged ve­hi­cle, no one stopped to as­sist. In fair­ness those trav­el­ling in the same di­rec­tion as me wouldn’t have been able to see the dam­age. A tow truck was called and the ve­hi­cle re­moved and the Po­lice ad­vised. It was only af­ter­wards that I man­aged to piece to­gether what ac­tu­ally hap­pened. The metal ob­ject was bashed about so had ac­tu­ally come from the road, then been hit by the pass­ing truck or had been stuck be­tween the du­als and flung out as the truck in­creased speed in the 80km/ h zone. It had gone through the wind­screen hit­ting my hand as I gripped the steer­ing wheel and bounced off into the pas­sen­ger side of the car. My hand was very sore and soon swelled up badly but x-rays con­firmed no bro­ken bones, only a cou­ple of small frag­ments of glass that were re­moved. Some two weeks later the fin­gers are still ten­der on the top, es­pe­cially around the knuck­les and joints. When I went to the doc­tor a few hours later the nurse took my blood pres­sure af­ter I had told her what had hap­pened and shown her the pho­tos. The blood pres­sure was rather high and straight faced she calmly asked me, “What have you been do­ing to­day for your blood pres­sure to be so high?” Af­ter a short pause, she did say “A near death ex­pe­ri­ence, per­haps?” Look­ing back, yes it was so very much a near death ex­pe­ri­ence as a slightly dif­fer­ent pro­jec­tile an­gle by even just a few mil­lime­tres and the outcome could have been so much worse. Need­less to say ev­ery­one kept on say­ing buy a Lotto ticket on the way home, so I did. How­ever as a wiser per­son than me said, “You have used all your luck up for a long while.” The wife was right, as the Lotto tick­ets didn’t even get a bonus board. Worse still, eight days later I was to have my ve­hi­cle bro­ken into and a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of items stolen.

The Range Rover with bro­ken wind­screen.

The cul­prit which ended up in the pas­sen­ger footwell.

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