Honestly, I’ve never seen so much blood in my life– covering my hands, my arms and all over the family we helped pull out of a car crash today. Kara was driving the dangerous stormy oil-slicked road that leads to Puerto Barrios. I was riding shotgun and fully engrossed in my iPhone activities when the car that had just passed us suddenly disappeared. It barely registered in my mind when she said matter-of-factly: “that car just went off the road.” Two seconds later we pulled over and ran towards the giant hole the car made in the brush on the side of the road.
I looked down into a 20′ deep ditch next to the highway and after a few seconds focused on a black Jeep on it’s side, smashed into the ground. It was nearly swallowed whole by the ditch– buried up to the wheels in mud and leaves. It’s not surprising because they were going about 70mph, trying to pass a whole row of cars in front of us, when the driver saw the huge semi roaring his way and freaked out, breaked too hard and slid clean off the road. The car looked so bad I was expecting the worst as I ran down and skidded into the driver’s door.
Another man got there as soon as I did and we tried to open the two exposed doors. They were completely stuck but the passenger window, however, was shattered and since it was safety glass I was able to pull it off in one piece. This cut up my hand but I didn’t realize that until later.
The next thing I know, me and the other guy are pulling screaming, bleeding people out of this dark little hole in the ground. Kara was behind us, sending each new victim into triage via a couple other guys who took turns carrying them back up the hill to the highway. First, the two kids– one had a gusher of a cut on the top of his head but I think he was more freaked out than anything. Next came the wife, who had a huge gash across her forehead and I could clearly see her skull as I pulled her out. We could tell she was going into shock because she was zoned out, totally quiet and unresponsive. Grandma had difficulty moving so I cradled her like baby and passed her back. Dad was last and was trying to stand on an obviously broken leg– definitely going into shock. This didn’t stop the other woman in the car from screaming at him and telling him it was his fault when they were both back up the hill.
After all the heavy-lifting I ran and got the first aid kit from the trunk of our car. Mostly I just handed out gauze pads and surgical tape to the women who were bandaging everybody up. Everyone needed to go to the emergency room but when would an ambulance come? Quien sabe– who knows. I found an emergency blanket in the kit– when I folded it out it looked like a giant piece of tin foil– and wrapped the mom up with it. Everyone tripped out on that little piece of gringo technology. Go USA!
On our way back the following afternoon we stopped at the accident site. A man came out and told us everyone was doing well, except Granny who suffered a broken back. I hate to say it, but she may never walk again. Dad was actually arrested before they took him to the hospital, probably for reckless driving or endangering his kids or something. Anyway, to top it off, the wheels were stolen off the car in the middle of the night, before it was towed out.
We joke about how unsafe Central American drivers are and the crazy risks we see locals take on the roads everyday. But then when something like this happens you kind of go, damn, maybe all our over-the-top safety and prevention culture in North America ain’t so silly after all.