Death of a 626
After years of performing maintenance on that car and doing my best to keep it operational, forces beyond my control took my beloved auto and turned it into off-green metal origami.
Specifically at 9:20 pm on November 11, 2003, my friend Bert and I were returning from a dinner at my folks' place. I came up on an onramp for I-26 westbound and was headed towards the interstate when I saw a slew of orange cones populating the ramp's space. A construction crew had set up shop at the onramp and had blocked off not only the rightmost lane of the interstate but had also restructured the onramp to allow them more room to work. This restructuring meant that I had to stop at the edge of the interstate, wait for traffic to go by, and then get directly on the interstate and haul butt to get up to speed.
I had done just that; waited until nearby traffic had gone by and started my way onto the interstate with just one distant pair of headlights behind me. I didn't realize until I was doing about 30 MPH in the right-hand lane that I was going to get hit from behind. Boy howdy what a hit it was! The impact was so intense that it threw me and Bert backwards, breaking both front seats in the process, and sent my car into an uncontrolled spin across four lanes of interstate. The spin-out felt like it lasted for minutes, as cliche' as that sounds, and there were at least two occasions where it seemed like the car was going to flip over on the roof. Thankfully we remained upright as we spun round and around before crashing ass-first into a tree located fairly well away from the road. In fact we were deep enough in the woods that you could not see my car from the shoulder of the road...
After determining that we were both okay, I whipped out my trusty Nextel and called the Highway Patrol. Never has the speakerphone function of those phones been more convenient and NECESSARY as it was during that moment. It was one less thing to not have to worry about having the damned phone glued to my ear rattling off details of the accident while at the same time trying to get out of the car. I was trapped on my side and I didn't know if the gas tank had ruptured (I later found out that it had) or if we were facing some other kind of imminent danger. Fortunately Bert's door had opened without any problems and I was able to get out through the passenger side. After that it was the standard stuff of calling my folks to let them know what had happened and that I was okay, followed by checking to make sure the other party was okay and then waiting for tow trucks to arrive while the SCHP processed the accident scene.
The other guy was cited for speeding in a work zone and (I think) reckless driving since he had the left-hand lane available to him and instead chose to hit my car. A couple of days later my insurance company told me that the car was a total loss and that I'd have to sign over the title for a mere pittance. The damned payout was even less than what I got when a deer creamed my Protege' four years earlier, which of course sucks rocks since the accident wasn't my fault. Once again I'm thrust into severe debtitude because of forces outside of my control.
Well, shit indeed...
Images of the damage
* Rear Shot #1 - This image basically says it all.
* Rear Shot #2 - This image says it better. It hurts me to look at this one.
* CD Player - This is my (former) Pioneer 6-disc CD changer.
* Driver Side Door #1 - The sideview mirror was ripped off by trees as we spun out through the forest.
* Driver Side Door #2 - This shows where my door had been pinched shut by the rear door as a result of the collision. I wound up wrenching my arm trying to get that door open before I realized that it simply WOULDN'T budge. You can actually see the bending of the metal on the chrome trim and just beneath it at the edge of the rear door.
* Driver Side Rear Door - Ouch!
* Left Rear Shot - This is a closeup of where the worst of the impact occurred. The trunk has pretty much disappeared on the driver's side as is evidenced by the exposure of the rear wheel.
* Left Rear Shot #2 - View of same area from further back.
* Right Rear Shot - Closeup shot of the right rear of the car. Damage was far less here, especially give that the muffler was untouched by the collision.
* Right Rear Sideview Shot - Different view of the right rear quarterpanel of the car. You can see how badly the paintjob was oxidized if you look at the remnants of the trunk lid. I *had* planned on getting the car repainted in March of 2004.
* The Back Seat - This image shows how much damage the unibody sustained. The back seat was pulled apart by the force of the impact.
* Rear Bumper - The force of the impact along with the spinout ripped the cover for the bumper right off.
* Trunk Lid Shot #1 - Closeup of the left hand side of the trunk lid.
* Trunk Lid Shot #2 - Closeup of the right hand side of the trunk lid.
* The engine - The engine was NOT damaged at all during the accident and was still running at idle after the car had come to a halt.
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Last updated: Friday, November 21, 2003