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Honda Versus Heifer
Sioux Falls, SD
This Collision: Photo 2 | Photo 3 | Photo 4
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It happened late one evening in September, 1989, whilst driving back from my inlaws’ house about an hour distant from our home. We were driving down the highway, about a quarter-mile behind another car. The car ahead suddenly pull over to the shoulder and backed up. It was dark out, so I didn’t know what they were doing -- I figured they were changing drivers or something, so I steered to the center of the road, stradling the center line, cooking along at around 60mph.
What I didn’t realize was that the other car had hit a 900lb heifer that had decided to cross the road just then. After hitting the cow, the driver of the other car pulled over and backed up to where the cow lay dying. Of course it lay dying right in the middle of the stinkin’ road.
And of course it was a black cow. And it was about 9:30pm in early September, so it was nice & dark. Naturally, I didn’t see the cow -- all I recall is seeing something large and black for just a split second in the headlight beams.
As near as I could determine, the car's bumper hit the cow’s belly, and enough of the cow was under the bumper that it just rolled under the car, which had the effect of launching the car — with my 18 month old daughter, my very-pregnant wife, and me — into the air. The first impact was upside down on the right-front corner of the car. The car then proceeded to flip & roll a number of times before coming to rest on its wheels, facing the opposite direction in the opposite lane of the highway. I’m sure the folks in the other car got quite a show!
While we were flipping down the road I remember pushing up (down?) against the roof of the car to keep my head from banging against it, and with the windshield blown out my hand hit pavement at least once (I’ve still got some scars on my left pinky from that!)
As for the car, there wasn’t a piece of sheet metal that wasn’t scratched or dented. The photos kinda show the story there. I couldn’t open the door, so I climbed out the side window — they were also blown out. The woman from the other car came & got my daughter out, then I pulled my wife out through her window. (The next day when I went to retrieve some things from the car I discovered that the doors were only locked! They opened just fine!)
As for us, we were in much better shape than the car. The accident happened about 500 yards from the home of an internal medicine physician. The folks from the other car drove my wife & daughter to his house, and he proceeded to check them over for injuries before the Fire & Rescue guys got there. When they arrived on the scene, and after seeing the car, apparently assumed we were in really bad shape, so they called in a helicopter to carry us to the hospital. An ambulance was also dispatched & arrived about the same time as the helicopter. The Dr. determined that none of us was hurt very badly — my wife was about 7 months along, and had started having contractions right away, so that was a concern; my daughter had a slight concussion; I think I may have had a concussion as well, cuz I was definitely not thinking straight for a while after (some may say still!) — so he figured we could go by ambulance.
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