Your Turn: Family feels lucky to be alive

By MARIA SMITH, Kent resident

I want to tell you about a situation that occurred Feb. 3 in Federal Way.

My family and I were driving home from the airport after spending a week in Hawaii. We were traveling south on I-5 when we were the innocent victims of what we believe was a road rage accident. A pickup truck was apparently traveling too slowly in the HOV lane for the SUV behind him. The car’s driver flashed his lights. The pickup truck moved over and let the SUV begin to pass. When they were side by side, the pickup truck decided to either run the SUV off the road or show the driver he was angry. He swerved very close to the SUV. The pickup truck lost control and was all over the road. He ran into the front corner panel of our car and ran us both into the concrete barrier going about 50 mph.

After we hit the barrier, our car rolled over four times. This next part is the miracle. My husband, my 13-year-old daughter, my 6-year-old son and I all crawled out of our car that had landed on its roof. I was expecting the worst, but there was no blood and no broken bones. We had just survived the most horrific accident imaginable. We were upset and shaking, but we were alive.

Many people stopped to help. There were two men and a woman whose names I never got. They were very kind. They helped keep us calm. They offered the sweatshirts off their backs to keep my children warm. There was an off-duty Federal Way police officer who was wonderful. As luck would have it, a Bremerton ambulance crew in traffic behind us not only helped us, but they helped the two people in the pickup truck that actually needed the medical assistance more than we did.

Our story doesn’t end here. I wish it did.

I was upset about the circumstances that led up to our accident, but what happened next just makes my heart sick. We were transferred to the hospital by the EMTs from Bremerton. Our car was right-sided and transferred by Northwest Towing to their “secure lot” in Federal Way. We were assured that our belongings including luggage, electronics and souvenirs would be safe.

Later that day, after being released from the hospital and getting little sleep, we made our way to the towing company’s parking lot. We discovered that all but one of our suitcases and everything else in our car had been stolen.

I was upset about the road rage incident, but I have to assume that the driver of the truck meant no harm to us (although he probably meant harm to the SUV driver).

But anyone who can steal from a car that looked as bad as ours must have no conscience at all. Whoever was responsible had to know that we were seriously injured or worse. Although they probably won’t answer to any authority here, they will ultimately answer to a higher power.

I believe there was some divine intervention at play that night. Somehow we are alive. There was an ambulance, a police officer and good Samaritans there when we needed them. That is a big coincidence. I must also acknowledge that our car played a huge role in keeping us alive. We were driving an Acura MDX. With a four-star crash rating, this car did what it was built to do: It saved us!

This letter is not about our belongings that were taken. All of our possessions are replaceable. Life is not. This letter is to let readers know what I learned on that early Sunday morning. I learned that you should never flash your headlights at anyone. This may just engage an otherwise unstable person driving in that car. Also, be cautious of your personal belongings even in the most unusual situations.

The final thing I have learned is that bad things happen even to good people, but life goes on with the help of friends, family and sometimes kind strangers — make the best of it!

The next time it is sunny in Western Washington, I will stop and enjoy Mount Rainier just a little bit longer as a result of what we have been through.

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