After work this afternoon we (the carpool) started to head home, within minutes of pulling onto the highway we saw brake lights up ahead, a cloud of dust and we knew there has been an accident. In fact there had just been an accident.
As our car pulled level, through the debris that littered all three lanes, two of us already had cell phones out to call emergency services. As we looked over however, the female driver slumped in the driver's seat, our decision was automatic, unanimous and unspoken; we pulled ahead on the shoulder running back to help. Another car pulled in just ahead of us and the driver of that car joined us.
Inside the wreck a young female, slumped unconscious and suffering from head trauma, in the back a toddler strapped in a car seat. There was precious little left of the front end of her car, although surprisingly the air bags had not inflated - so I can just imagine the impact of the crash on the driver. It was a single motor vehicle accident, the vehicle had hit the guardrail and spun out of control across three lanes of traffic before coming to rest against the guardrail on the opposite side. How she avoiding hitting another car during rush hour is a mystery to us all.
Her car doors were locked and battered beyond opening and we pounded on the window trying to rouse her enough to unlock the door. We searched our trunks for a tire iron to smash the window but thankfully after a few minutes the lady in the car regained consciousness long enough to open her lock. The guys tugged on the driver's side door and managed to pry it wide enough to snake an arm in to release the back door. The woman was bleeding profusely from a head injury but thankfully her child was safely strapped in her car seat and suffered not a scratch. One of my colleagues cared for the child, our attention on the female trapped behind the wheel. We obviously didn't want her moving until the ambulance arrived, but in her confusion she struggled, despite her leg being trapped in the wreckage. All we could do was comfort her and assure her that her daughter was fine and that help was on the way.
In all the time we had been stopped at the side of the road, pounding on the window trying to awaken the unconscious driver, trying to pry open the car door, running back to our own cars to search for blankets to keep everyone warm (remember we're in the middle of a major cold spell -27 today) the only other person who had stopped to help us was an off duty paramedic and a tow truck driver.
Four police dispatchers and a paramedic....and everyone else just gawked and drove on by. No-one slowed to see if we needed help, or a phone call...nothing. Ironically I heard later on the radio that there was a second accident near the scene, caused by people rubbernecking at the original crash.