Freak accident changes life

Published 5:05 am Monday, March 7, 2005

By By Adam Prestridge
It was a hot muggy day in June of 1996. A 15-minute summer thunderstorm had just passed through the area and steam could be seen rising from the hot asphalt. It resembled the steam that hurries off cold bacon after being tossed in a hot greasy skillet.
Meanwhile, the only grease he could smell was the 10W40 wiped on the front of his pants and underneath his fingernails. He cracked the driver's side window for ventilation. It was time to go back to the garage with all the other greasers.
The sun slowly peered from behind the dark clouds and a clear, blue sky, quickly took the dark clouds' place. The thermostat on an already hot summer day had just been turned up even more. Rolling the window all the way down was the only way he could escape the furnace the cab of the truck had now become.
It was the beginning of another hot and miserable summer in Alabama; another summer in which he worked, while all the other students played.
What occurred only moments after the last drop of rain hit the roadway changed the boy's life forever.
Just seconds after the windshield wipers were turned off and the radio was cranked back up, he approached a one ton, metal bridge. Down shifting around the sharp curve just before the bridge, the motor wined. He popped the clutch as the truck eased onto the one-way hazard, but a combination of wet metal and bald tires caused the truck to fishtail out of control.
Fortunately, mud riding had been a favorite of his and he kept the truck from tumbling into the creek filled with jagged rock below. Unfortunately, asphalt apparently dries faster than metal with the help of blistering sunbeams.
Over and over the truck tumbled down the road. It rolled three and a half times to be exact. Through three mailboxes and into a ditch upside-down is where the truck finally rested.
Quickly the boy squeezed out the open window through the muddy ditch. He was greeted by the homeowner whose yard his truck now occupied.
"Should I turn it off?" the boy asked.
"If you don't want it to blowup, you should," the homeowner yelled from over the truck's spinning tires.
It was time to assess the damage, but not before calling his parents.
It actually went better than expected. I guess parents are more lenient when their child has a near death experience as opposed to shooting a hole through the back of their mini van with a rifle.
Anyways, by the good graces of God, the boy was spared to tell his story. The passenger side of the truck was caved in to the floorboard and the driver's side bed of the truck was crushed into the middle of the truck. The only things intact was the cocoon-type area where he sat and the passenger side truck bed that happened to be the side the gas tank was on.
That boy was me.
Now that the story is on paper, I realize how lucky I am, but more importantly that I didn't tell my parents that I love them. My accident could have been the end and thinking back, I can't tell you when I told them I loved them before that.
So be sure to live life to its fullest. Care for your family and friends. Always tell them how much they mean to you and that you love them.
If I wouldn't have been spared that hot summer's day, my parents would have never heard those words from their baby boy again.
Take it from me; I've seen those fears become a reality for several parents. Some of those not so fortunate were close friends of mine.
Adam Prestridge is the publisher of the Atmore Advance. His column appears weekly.

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