by Jerry Zunt
This is a true story of the worst day in my life. Do you think that it's bad enough?
A BAD DAY
By Jerry Zunt
This is a true story the names are changed to protect the innocent; the guilty have never been found.
It was Thursday, the 12th of August 2004 at 11:30pm when I pulled into the truck stop. I was tired but not really sleepy, anticipating tomorrow. I got out my log book and wrote down what I did and where I was. I had no time left so I had to shut down for the night. I got on my CB to find out if D.O.T. was out and stopping trucks on the way back to the shop. Within a couple of minutes I got my answer, they were out in force that night. They were sitting less than 2 miles from me on the only two routes to the shop. "Oh well" I said to the last driver I talked to, "I guess I'll just try to sleep, anyway thanks for the bear report, out". I really wanted to get to the shop before I went to bed so I could be the first one in line for maintenance.
Knowing that I could just wait and drive into the shop 8 hours later legally, I got into my bed. As I lay in bed I couldn't stop thinking that if I wanted to I could be home right now. Instead I choose to squeeze another load in on this paycheck. I thought that maybe this was greedy, but with this load I would have enough to take my granddaughter to the state fair. I also had scheduled maintenance on my truck, nothing special just a pin-hole leak in my radiator. So there I laid thinking of the fun that we would have when we went to the fair, and with that thought I drifted off to sleep.
I awoke to the sound of somebody beating on the side of my truck. I jumped out of my bed to see who was knocking and why. As I hopped into the driver’s seat I noticed a man standing on the passenger side of my truck. I rolled down the window and asked, "Is there a problem?"
“I think your truck is overheating, it's steaming" he said.
I looked down at my temperature gauge and replied "No it's not, but it is kinda warm. Thanks." We both smiled at one another, he jumped off my truck, got back into his pick-up and drove away. I looked at my clock and saw that it was 5:15am, Friday the 13th. As I sat there lighting my cigarette, I thought that the guy was nice to take the time to stop and inform me about my truck. Now I wish he wouldn't have.
Now awake, I felt the call of nature and went to the truck stop’s restroom. It was an outside restroom and while coming out I thought, “maybe a cup of coffee”. I didn't want to go inside because they were busy and I still had some time to sleep. Instead I thought, “I'll just put some water in my truck and go back to bed”. As I walked down the line of trucks I wished that I hadn’t parked at the end spot, closest to the road, but it was the only one I could get the night before. When I reached the truck next to me I noticed it was pulled up too far and thought to myself, “rookie”.
While I was walking around the front of the truck somebody locked up their brakes on the road next to the truck stop. Of course, the screeching tires got my attention and I just had to look at the car. It had almost rear ended a pick-up that was stopped at the light. This was enough of a distraction that I didn’t really look at the truck next to me, which was quite unusual, for me anyway.
I thought to myself, “I’ll sure be glad when this is fixed’. After unhooking the clips on both sides of my hood and fenders I tilted them to the upright position. I’d started walking between the trucks toward the compartment behind the driver’s door for a jug of water. I got as far as the tire when I noticed the truck beside me was pulling out and leaving. As I got to the front edge of the door the mirror shattered above me, raining shards of glass all over me. The trailer was coming at me. The driver was cutting the turn too hard. There was no way that I could get into my truck. It was coming over so fast that I didn’t have time to think. I just turned around and ran for my engine compartment and tried to dive into it.
I thought for a second that I was going to make it but my left foot was under his front trailer tire. This caused me to fall backwards into my engine compartment and I tried to grab anything I could. Miraculously I managed to grab the frame of the truck; however, the edge of his trailer was coming over my front tire. It was less than a foot or so from my face and I still couldn’t pull my foot free. I knew instantly that his trailer was pivoting and would kill me for sure if I stayed there. The sound of the trailer ripping off the front of my truck drowned out my screams. I then had two choices, stay where I was and die, or throw my body under his truck. I choose the latter.
As I threw my body under his trailer my other leg got caught under his wheels as well. His back tires were just passing my front tire as he started to straighten out. I was screaming at him that he was breaking my legs, not that he could hear me. (I will leave out the colorful language, but there was a lot of it.) Once my feet and legs were out from underneath the wheels I sat up so I could read the license plate on his trailer.
No sooner than I sat-up, I got hit in the shoulders by his bottom bumper. This smashed my face into the asphalt, and rolled me about ten feet. When I finally got my bearings and my face cleaned off so I could see, I saw that the truck had turned left at the light. Unfortunately I couldn’t make out the license plate number, or even the company name. I was becoming more aware of the pain but I was glad that part of the ordeal was over.
With every heartbeat the pain intensified and I could see the blood pumping out of my flattened feet and legs. I looked around to assess my situation. This is when I noticed that my sweat pants had been torn off and both my socks and shoes were gone. I looked back along the blood trail and saw a bone lying there. I chuckled out loud, and thought to myself “that isn’t a chicken bone”. Still in unbelievable pain, I made the decision that lying in a parking space was not a good idea. Getting run over once was enough for one day. At this point I really didn’t comprehend how bad off I really was, but I knew if I went into shock and passed out that I’d probably die.
I did realize how bad things were when I tried to stand. My feet and ankles were both crushed; the bottom of my left foot had a gaping hole in it about 5 inches long. Both my feet seemed to be on backwards, and my right leg had a big hole in it. I had to make it over to the next truck, and see if I could wake the driver. I used my arms to drag my body and legs across the asphalt to the next truck. When I finally made it over to the truck I thought that I was going to pass-out. The only thing that kept me going was the fear that if I did pass-out I would likely be ran over again, since I was curled up in a ball by this truck’s wheels.
After a minute or two of trying to regain my strength I grabbed hold of the stairs on the truck and pulled myself up to where I could reach the cab. I started beating on the side of the cab, telling myself to focus on anything to keep awake. I felt the truck move and thought to myself, “thank God someone is up”. I heard the footsteps inside the truck, and knew they were getting out of bed and into the drivers seat. As this was going on I kept on trying to stay awake by thinking of what to say to the person that found me. I told myself that if the person asked me if I was all right I was going to copy one of my favorite comedians. My grip was giving way and I was starting to slide back to the ground. I thought I would just tell him, “I’m fine I always lay in a pool of blood in the morning, here’s your sign”. By this time I was almost back on the ground again. I felt the truck move and heard footsteps going back to bed.
With all the strength that I could muster I reached back up and banged on the truck again. This time I heard the footsteps and a door open. I had no more strength and slid to the ground. A man walked around the truck and sure enough he said, “Are you okay?”
I decided not to try to be funny and said, “No, can you call 911.”
He immediately left. I was hoping that he would be back soon. He came back very quickly, much to my surprise. “Is there anything I can do for you?” he asked. I asked him to get my cell phone and blanket out of my truck, and asked him if he would cover me up.
He handed me my cell and covered me up and said “Don’t worry help's on the way.”
“Thanks a lot,” I said to him, all three of him that I was now seeing. I shook my head to clear the cobwebs, and looked at my phone. Now that I was seeing clearly again I thought about who to call. First I thought about calling my wife, but I decided against that because I didn’t want her to worry. I’ll just wait and call her when it’s all over I told myself. I looked at the guy who was helping me. He was standing in front of his truck, waiting for the squad.
I decided to call my bosses. I worked for a family run business. Debbie got the loads, assigned the drivers, and did the paperwork. Mark her husband took care of the trucks, ordered our supplies, and was in charge of maintenance. I dialed the company cell and waited. “Hello,” I heard Debbie answer sleepily.
I said “Hi Debbie, this is Jerry. I just thought I’d call you and let you know that I’m not going to make it to the shop today.”
Somewhat irritated she asked “Why not?” I knew she was still half asleep, and probably waiting for some lame excuse.
I answered her with “I just got ran over by another truck.”
“That’s not funny,” she said.
“I’m not joking,” I replied.
“Why are you calling me? Call 911,” she said, exasperated.
I told her that the squad was on the way, and somebody would have to come and get my truck. I heard her tell Mark to deal with this as she quickly updated him.
“Hi Jerry, how are you?” Mark, at least, sounded slightly more cognizant.
I told him, “Not too good, but better than the truck.”
”How bad is the truck, do you think it will need towed?” was his next question. I really appreciated the fact that he was being calm about the whole thing. I told him that he would have to tow the cab, but the trailer was fine. About this time the paramedics arrived and the first one who got to me told me to get off the phone, so I said goodbye.
The paramedics asked me where it hurt, and they seemed much more worried about my neck and spine than about my legs. At this point in time I was curled in a ball once again with my legs elevated to try to slow the bleeding and because if they touched they ground, suddenly the pain would become excruciating once again. They slide a backboard under me and put me on a stretcher. Once on the stretcher they tried to straighten my legs out to strap them down and I went off. I was screaming at them to stop or knock me out, so they only strapped my shoulders and waist to the stretcher. Almost as an after thought I asked one of the paramedics to retrieve the piece of my bone from the parking lot.
After a seemingly quick trip to the emergency room, which actually took about twenty minutes or so, they had to get me ready for the life flight helicopter. They wheeled me into a large, brightly lit room and told me that they had to straighten my legs out before they could put me into the helicopter. As they straightened my legs out the pain became much worse, and as they strapped my knees down I felt as though I was being run over a second time. I’ve never felt such excruciating pain. I was begging for some kind of pain relief but they informed me that they couldn’t give me anything until I reached the next hospital.
They wheeled me out to the chopper and put me aboard, and then we lifted off. I remember looking out and seeing Lake Erie, I thought to myself, “I wish I was fishing now”. As we approached the hospital I could see people waiting by the helipad. No sooner than we got on the ground, I felt someone pulling me out of the chopper and putting me on a gurney. They started to wheel me in from the helipad to the hospital when I heard a male voice tell me, “Good night”.
“What?” was the last thing I remember saying.
I think he’s coming around.” I heard a soft female voice say.
I opened my eyes and saw a doctor standing over me. “Did you save my feet?” I asked sleepily.
“Yes, we did,” the doctor informed me.
“That’s great,” I said, “so when do you think I’ll be up and on them?” The doctor’s eyes told me what I feared the most.
Then he replied, “I don’t ever see you walking again, I’m sorry.”
As he walked away I thought to myself, “What a bad day.”