By Stephen Hillard
I was so scared and in disbelief that I had actually convinced myself I was in the midst of a bad dream and could not wake up. It was a perfect cool day on the summer morning of July 5, 2005. The car settings were set in the exact opposite position of what I should have had them set. The windows were rolled up, the A/C was blowing, and the music was off. After a long night these conditions were not ideal for driving, but if you wanted to take a nap the vehicle was in the perfect setting. I had just woken up and without even thinking about it hopped in the car. I had been up all night par taking in the normal Fourth of July activities and only had gotten about two hours of sleep, but I was determined that I was going to take my friend Cody back to town so he wouldn’t miss work that day. What went from a normal everyday drive, turned into a near death experience that ended up being the longest day of not only my life, but everyone’s life that was involved. When a vehicle rolls seven times on a highway going seventy miles per hour you take one look at the vehicle and would think anyone in that car was dead.
As I was driving down the highway I started to dose off, but instead of pulling over to have the passenger drive or for both of us to rest, I told myself I would be ok and continued to drive. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Only a few miles down the road I remember hearing a wispy sound, over and over. As I opened my eyes I realized that I was in the middle of the median and instead of stopping my first reaction was that I had to get back on the road. When I turned the wheel to get back on the pavement the vehicle was going too fast and the wheels dug into pavement sending the vehicle end over end for several yards. My first thought as we were in the air flipping was this is the longest accident ever, and that when it did eventually end we weren’t going to make it. Finally, after hearing a continuous grinding of metal the vehicle came to a stop. All I could think was I made it and was Cody alive or had he already fallen out of the car. The worst feeling ever was when I pulled myself out of the vehicle and saw transmission fluid all over the pavement. I instantly thought it was blood and I had just killed my friend. Finally, after yelling Cody over and over he kicks the back window out and crawls out. As he kept asking me what happened repeatedly, all I could think about was how relieved I was knowing he made it, but from how he looked I knew we needed help and we needed help fast. Luckily, the truck driver that had been following us for several minutes had already called 911 the moment we started to roll.
When the truck driver approached us to see if we were ok, I was so disoriented I kept referring to the male truck driver as miss, and when the police officer arrived I kept mistaking her and answering her as sir. Regardless, I was just so glad that help was there. The condition we were in neither one of us would have been able to call anyone. All I could do was walk in circles, wondering if Cody would be ok and what my father was going to say, after all, he had just bought this vehicle for me a few months prior and now it was totaled. I remember him specifically telling me and Cody as we walked out the house the afternoon of the Fourth of July, “Be careful, and no matter if for any reason if you think you shouldn’t be driving call me or your mother”. As everyone was partying and drinking I told myself, just make sure to get some rest before I had to work in the morning. Well obviously two hours of sleep didn’t cut it. When we first got in the car I noticed Cody was comfortable and he started to fall back to sleep. Not long after we had started driving, he looked over and said, “Do you think I should drive or will you be ok”. I told him I’ll be fine. However, I had started to dose a few minutes later and realized then I shouldn’t be driving, but I wanted to make it home so bad I wasn’t…