This is from a guy who previously narrowly escaped death that heard about an recent tragic accident that killed 2 with the driver surviving this ordeal. My opinions on driving tired and guilt. Long read/rant/admission
I fucked up when I flipped the Infiniti. I was driving tired, hazily driving to my school for a quad painting project. The speed limit was 55 at the start of the road. I passed a vintage car along the way. Then I slowed down to 50 (speed limit that was coming up and past a intersection it would change to 45). As I went past a MKI Ford Focus, I did not realize there was a green. Now to think back, I most likely mistaken the left turn only lane as a straight across green light. The tiredness was my fault. That came to haunt me as I barreled across the intersection on a red light
I saw a Acura in my front left quarter, and felt a impact. I shoved my ass into the seat as I felt the the SUV flip over and over. I ended up flipping on its roof. The first thought was how I fucked up. The second thought was how I fucked up those 2 people in the Acura. I eventually got news that they were ok (minor head injuries). I ended up going to the hospital (I felt really fucking bad, as I felt the scalp injuries were really superficial and my classmates wanted to visit me, that I flat out refused). It felt shitty getting care for something you did.
When the cops, insurance people, and classmates asked the circumstances, I mentioned that I believed I ran though a solid green on my end. To be honest, I had no idea. There was a gut feeling of dread, as I waited more than 3 weeks to get the police report that either confirmed the green or confirmed my fault. I ended up getting it on the last day of school. I read it while my mom drove me home.
That was one of the shittiest days of my life. I fucking got undeserved sympathies from people at my school, family members, and even Oppo. I had cheated death. I rolled over several times at 50 MPH. In many cars, I would have been dead, I’d be in a cremation box, and I’d be another statistic on the charts. But I didn’t. I survived and came out with minor injuries. I deserved to die. I fucked up the Acura owners’ lives in a incomprehensible amount. Were they traumatized? What did they think of me as I bundled my t shirt on my head? I FUCKING HAD PEOPLE WORRY ABOUT ME FUCKING UP MYSELF IN THE COURSE OF SCREWING SOMEONE’S LIFE.
I was in a whirlwind of guilt as the 2 people who had their Acura totaled by my negligence were identified in that report. I thought of confronting and apologizing for it. But I ended up talking to one of the most unlikely people, my (then) cycling coach. He gave me a bit of advice, that I took. It felt shitty. My mom asked me what was in the report. In cantonese, I quietly replied that it was my fault.
Onto the current event. Post Halloween Sunday morning (3AM) 3 girls from my school were driving in their Toyota Solara. Probably after a night of partying, they probably wanted to go on a drive. Franklin Canyon is one of these roads. It’s twisty for a part of it, and then it becomes straight that slowly curves left and right for a good 2 miles and a half. TSomewhere during that straight, the driver fell asleep at ~60 MPH. All the other passengers were asleep as well. They never knew it coming as they crashed into a tree and bounced the car around like a pinball. Ok. that road they were going on is what I believe to have a 35 MPH zone. This is in one of the country parts of where I used to bike infrequently with the team. This stretch of road can have the scariest drivers or the most pleasant drivers. I’ve been with people in the daytime on this road at 60 ish. This road is like a farm road that just goes straight. Nobody expects to get hurt at that speed. But one thing was a factor. Sleepiness. It wasn’t drugs or alcohol, it was sleepiness.
Sleepiness is the lurking factor. You can’t avoid it. You have to succumb to it, in a safe way (aka stopping and catching some sleep) or it could be disasterous (falling asleep while doing something). I had this very thing happen that night. I was driving home from work (15 miles away) and I was feeling Tired. I felt to stay awake. I eventually took an exit and drove on city streets as I thought I would be more awake. I was wrong. I still was tired. I ended up getting on and off the freeway 2 times before just going to a gas station, where I rested up. I was 2 miles from my house then. But I had endangered countless lives on the road. I should have just slept after work in the parking lot for an hour so I could recover the energy. I didn’t. I fucked up. That’s what I plan to do next time. You don’t want to be too late.
It’s a tragedy these 2 girls died that morning. This was avoidable. They could have came home or crashed at someone’s house. Hell, a friend of mine got a ride from them around 11 to go home. I didn’t know them, but the school now does. The effect has resonated through the school, and I find myself setting up audio equipment for a candlelight vigil again in less than a year. Everyone feels weak. Everyone, whether they knew them or not, has been shoved a blunt message in their face on how fragile life is and how it can be ended so quickly.
Rest in peace to the 2 girls.