Hopita (hopita) wrote,

Random memories from the van accident & its aftermath

As yet another April 24th fades into memory, I thought I'd write down a few other things that I remember.

The Accident
As we were rolling in the median, I had the conscious thought that it was weird that nobody was screaming. In that instant, someone started to scream. I think it was Liora, but it might have been Jennifer.

One of the people in the van, Greta, was the daughter of our Dean of Students. Somehow the folks at the hospital got it into their heads that I was the daughter of the Dean of Students. In fact, Greta was one of the five people who had been taken to a different hospital. A nurse came by and told me that my father was on the phone. I was very confused when I answered the phone and discovered our Dean of Students on the other end of the line.

After we were released from the hospital, we were taken to visit the five folks at the other nearby hospital (the 11th survivor was flown to a hospital in Cleveland. We didn't see her again until she was back on campus). Greta had broken her leg. She later told us that she had not brought enough clean underwear with her to New York, and that she gave the paramedic quite a surprise when he cut her pants open to triage her leg and discovered her "commando" status.

The Van
I remember leaving the hospital and heading back to campus. Karl Mahle picked us up. We were all pretty nervous about highway driving. Every speed felt too fast. I don't think we let him go over 45 mph, and I think we were all much more comfortable at around 35 mph.

He took us to see the van. It was my first introduction into the ways in which our brains can distort what our eyes are seeing. Immediately following the crash, the van looked fine to me -- just like any other van. When other folks couldn't get out, I noticed that the frame had been smooshed a bit, sort of like if you sat on a toy car, maybe. You wouldn't notice that it was damaged until you tried to open the door, and then you'd see that the lip of the frame had moved *just* enough to make the doors stick.

Yeah, well, that's not how it actually was. The van was totaled. Destroyed. Crunched and crushed and just generally looking like an aluminum can that's been stepped on. There were some bits of post-crash damage (crews had removed one of the front seats to get to Liora, who had been lying on the floor between the two front seats), but most was from the accident. Remember when I said I kicked my door out once we stopped rolling? I bent it IN HALF. It had to be bungee-corded back onto the van.

Adrenaline, man.

Also, there was blood everywhere. I remembered blood, but not that much.

Tanya's Eyes
We got to campus and were taken directly to the Counseling Center on the ground floor of North. Everyone on campus had wanted to see us, but they didn't want us to be overwhelmed, so they let in just a handful of people -- maybe one or two people for each survivor, a close friend, a partner. I remember that Tanya was there for me (and holzman too? Or maybe I just saw him outside?). I had gotten stitches in the back of my head, and I wanted Nurse Barb to put some sort of bandage over them, primarily so I would know what part of my head to not get wet.

Nurse Barb was probably in her mid-50s at that time. She looked at the back of my head, then called Tanya over. "Tanya, how are your eyes?" she asked. She was asking if Tanya could see the stitches any better than she could, but my brain interpreted the question as being about some health concern with Tanya's eyes. Throughout the rest of the quarter, I would repeatedly ask Tanya about her eyes, and she would repeatedly remind me that they were, and always had been, fine.
Tags: antioch, dad, driving, greta, holzman, hospital, injury, karl mahle, links, liora, memories, new york, nurse barb, steve schwerner, tanya, the van accident

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