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.