Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Big Digital Has an Eventful Friday Night

Not that I don't otherwise have them, but last night had at least one incident too many. Let me explain. Yesterday morning as I was arriving at work, the battery light and the emergency brake light on my dashboard came on. I thought it was odd that they would both come on and figured it might be something to do with whatever electrical system controls the lights, because the brake wasn't on or anything, and after work, my car still started up just fine. I made it home without any incidents and proceeded on with my Friday night plans.

A friend (Tandy) and I had organized a sledding activity last night and invited a large number of people. We'd be meeting at her place in Sandy and then heading out from there. I tracked down all my snow clothes and my tube and left with what I thought would give me enough to get to her house on time. The directions I'd looked up on Google maps (True Dat! Double True!) told me to head east on Sego Lily, but I forgot to look at exactly how far south Sego Lily was. And it turned out that on 7th East, the street sign didn't call it Sego Lily, and I drove right past it. A few blocks later, I realized I'd gone to far and decided to head east on 10600 South, thinking I could just backtrack to where I needed to be. Unfortunately it turns out that 10600 South is on the south side of a huge gorge with no roads crossing it, and while I kept hoping to find one, it looked like in the end I was going to have to go all the way up to Wasatch to backtrack toward the north.

Now, as I'd been driving, with my battery and brake light still on, I started to wonder if maybe my headlights weren't as bright as they ought to be, and if my heater wasn't blowing as strong as normal. And as I headed east on my long detour, suddenly my radio turned off, and wouldn't turn back on. A few moments later, the airbag light started flashing, and then just after that, my car slowly died.

I pulled off the road as best I could, but my detour had taken me in to a less traveled part of the valley and I was on a two-lane highway with no street lights. The lack of electrical power also meant I couldn't even turn on my emergency flashers. After a brief debate I decided I should probably stand at the rear of the car and encourage oncoming cars to not hit it or myself. Not sure if it was the wisest decision or not, but I'm still alive to write this post, right? :)

I called Tandy, explained my situation and tried to figure out about where I was. She said as soon as someone else got there, she could leave and come look for me. Just after that another friend, Dave, called for directions and I explained my situation. He offered to come help find me as well. After these phone calls I got my trusty jumper cables out of the trunk for future use, and put them in the front of the car, and opened my hood. While I was in the car, I decided to try the emergency flashers again and lo! and behold! they worked. Which made me figure I ought to try starting the car. It started and I quickly closed the hood and resumed my journey.

I was able to make it up and around the east end of the gully and start back down toward my destination before the airbag light started flashing again and I figured I better find a good spot to pull off the road quickly. I did so, and ended up only being a few blocks away from the final destination. My friend came and picked me up and I figured I'd come up with a way to get my car to the shop after sledding.

Here's a map you can look at to get an idea of where this all happened, and to encourage you to not use 10600 South to go east:

If you made it this far, I commend you, but let me just say that this story is just getting started.

For sledding, Tandy recommended a little park with hills on all sides and a bowl in the middle not far from her place. After everyone arriving, we loaded up and headed over there. It ended up being a pretty fun spot, with one main hill that had a couple small dips where you could get some excitement, but nothing too crazy. A few minor spills and what not. At one point, people were talking about putting three people on my double tube and Dave came up and said "Now just let me say that every time I go sledding, someone gets hurts, and usually it's when they try to put three people on a tube." That was enough to discourage them from that.

Across the park from that main hill was another hill that had a bit of a steeper drop off, and a couple people had gone over to try that and then come back. A bit later I was looking around and didn't see Dave and figured he must have gone to his car for something. A few minutes after that we heard someone yelling from the bottom of that other hill, asking for someone with a phone to call 911. I looked around again, and not seeing Dave, started to get a little worried. Someone started calling 911 and we hustled over to the bottom of the hill.

They'd seen something at the bottom of the hill and, when they got over there, found Dave face-down in the snow on a sled, unconscious and bleeding from his face. Thankfully he was at least breathing, and everyone took precaution to not move him. I observed his feet moving a little, which was encouraging. After a couple minutes, he slowly started to come to, mostly moaning, but not responsive to our comments. We tried to keep him from moving his head around, and got someone's sweater under his head to keep it out of the snow. The paramedics soon arrived and about that point he was starting to respond to their inquiries. Not real well at first, and he kept trying to push himself up on his arms and they kept holding him down. They put a neck brace on him and loaded him onto a backboard and carefully took him up the hill and to the street and loaded him into the ambulance.

Someone suggested that I go with him to the hospital, and since I probably knew him as well as anyone, I figured that was probably a good idea, although I was still thinking I was going to have to go back and get my broken down car at some point. Other friends were kind enough to find his phone and wallet and call his parents, stop by his house and pick up some clean, dry clothes for him, and then come down the hospital as well. Halfway through the ambulance ride, they decided he was well enough that they could turn off the siren.

Upon arriving at the ER, they sent me to the waiting room and did some tests on him for a while. After a while, they told us we could go see him. He was doing pretty good at that point, although he was clearly still a little loopy and complaining of double vision. Originally they wanted to admit him to the hospital overnight for observation, but eventually decided he could go home that night as long as he wasn't going to be home alone. We gave him his clean clothes to change into and loaded him in someone's car. (FYI: apparently, if you go to the ER with some kind of trauma, you're likely to have all of your clothes cut off of you, even if things are terribly urgent. Dave was kind of pissed about having his favorite sweatshirt cut in half. Also, if you don't have friends who will bring you clean clothes, they are perfectly happy to send you home with just your hospital gown and a blanket.) We got him home and handed him off to his roommate.

Then Brandon was kind enough to drive me back to Sandy (we'd gone to the new hospital in Murray), jump start my car, and follow me back to the shop near my house. Driving home, we had to jump start the car 2 more times, once in pretty tricky circumstances that required him to make a U-turn going the wrong way on Fort Union to pull in in front of me. We almost had to jump it a 3rd time, as I had to coast into a parking spot at the shop after the car dying again. I took my valuables out of the car and left the key under the mat. Brandon drove me home and even helped carry my boxes of work stuff up to the house. Quite a night.

I felt lucky to have such good friends, and that Dave was relatively alright, and that I was able to get my car to a shop. Turns out it's the alternator, which is what I would have guessed after thinking through the problem.


Rachie said...

And THAT's why I don't go sledding. Glad Dave is all right, though.

Sorry about your car. :(

Colette said...

Wow, that was quite a night! I am glad that everything turned out okay in the end though.

Matt and Marti Jo said...

holy cow you did have an eventful night! I am glad that everything an everyone is okay!

Kimberli said...


George said...

Apparently three is too many and one is not enough ... "Always tube with a buddy" is my new motto.

Also if there are medical students at the hospital they're usually the ones assigned to cut the clothes off.