It’s Tuesday and we returned from our vacation on Sunday night. I don’t even know where to begin, honestly, I don’t. I guess I’ll start at the end, mostly because it’s fresh in my mind and mostly because it’s quite honestly the most frustrating thing I’ve ever been through.
Friday morning we packed up the car and headed towards Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. There’s so many things that could have changed the direction of our future at this point.
- Leaving the house 5 minutes earlier or later
- Not stopping at Starbucks in Conifer, CO
- Getting a more complicated drink at Starbucks
- Remembering to turn up the volume on Garmin Dave so that we would have heard him tell us about our turn outside of Cheyenne, WY
- Not turning around to go back about 3 miles to make the turn we missed, we would have ended up in the same place, just from a different direction and it would have added about 10 minutes
- Talking to the restaurant owner a little bit longer or less longer at lunch
We were about 45-50 miles away from Wind Cave when we turned off of Hwy 85 and made a right onto Hwy 18, which was a single lane country highway. My husband put his left blinker on, slowed down to about 10 mph to make a left turn into the rest stop. Hwy 85 was a 75 mph road and the truck behind us on Hwy 85 took the right hand turn and then proceeded to pass us on the left as we were making our left hand turn.
I can still hear the crash. It makes my ears vibrate. I can still hear my daughter screaming in the back seat. I can still hear my husband telling me he thought he was dead because all he could see was a sheet of white (it was the air bags). I can still see the truck moving past us after pushing our car to where it eventually landed in the middle of our lane on the highway. I can still hear the other driver screaming at us, never asking once if we were okay. I can still hear my daughter crying and pointing at a leak under our car.
The point of impact was a t-bone the drivers side from the wheel well side panel to the entire drivers door. The side view mirror is completely gone. I’m so thankful that the VW Tiguan kept us safe, and although it’s completely mangled and shredded on the drivers side, all three of us walked away from the accident.
It’s at this point on Friday where my day turned into one of those dreams where you are trying to talk, but can’t because you have too much chewing gum in your mouth. Or you are desperately trying to make an urgent phone call but the last number you need to dial is missing from the phone. We were in the middle of nowhere Wyoming with spotty cell service and limited battery life. Every time I’d get through to our insurance company and get some of the of the information out to them, the call would drop. I stood on the side of the road and cried because I didn’t know what else to do.
It took 45 minutes for the Undersheriff of Niabrara to arrive, I’m assuming an Undersheriff is what we’d call a Deputy in Milwaukee. He wrote stuff down in his notebook and took some photos and information. When I questioned him for advice on what to do he offered me to be thankful we were alive, he had five deaths right there last week. And then he suggested we have our car towed to Rapid City, SD where there was a VW dealership and they could just “slap on a new door”.
Oh my … our VW needed A LOT MORE than a new door.
He did call for a wrecker tow truck to pick us up from Hot Springs, SD, which was about 45 miles away. My husband had to coordinate with our insurance company while we waited for the tow truck, they were suggesting that we unload all of our belongings from the car prior to the tow because we’d most likely not be seeing it again. My husband had to walk the insurance rep through our location on Google maps, and only then did the rep realize that our options were incredibly limited. The nearest car rental place was in Rapid City, but now the question was how in the heck would we even get to Rapid City??? And not only that, the nearest State Farm Insurance adjuster was in Sioux Falls, SD — 500 miles east. This is where we were, at the junction of 85 and 18.
So the tow truck arrives and it’s the oldest truck ever, it only had one bench seat in front and just two lap seatbelts, no air conditioning (which after sitting outside in the hot sun for over three hours, I really wanted some cool air). I totally thought the Undersheriff would offer to drive us to the tow truck place in Hot Springs, SD, but he didn’t. He left us with the tow truck driver who just said: We’ll make it work. So all four of us climbed into the cab of the truck, my husband had to do the shifting for the driver, I sat in the passenger seat and my 13 year old daughter sat on my lap. It was from here that we were able to text message my brother-in-law, who lives in Bailey, CO (where we were coming home from) and he served as our command center. He took care of all of the coordinating for a shuttle to pick us up in Hot Springs and take us to the Rapid City airport. He reserved a car for us to drive back to Milwaukee.
Ricks Auto Center in Hot Springs, SD was a life saver. They let us unload our entire car in their driveway, they let us charge our phones in their waiting room, and then they sat with us after they were closed until the shuttle service arrived to pick us up. Rapidshuttle out of the Rapid City Airport arrived, helped us load all of belongings into the shuttle and then even offered to stop at a mini mart to pick up anything we might need for the one hour drive to our car rental. The driver then helped us load everything into our rental car, and even gave us snacks for the drive back down to Keystone where we had a hotel waiting for us (more on the hotel another time, but I was very thankful we had made a reservation on Thursday night).
We are now home, there’s so much to do, but we can’t do anything until the insurance adjuster inspects our car and totals it out. There are two options there:
- Insurance ships the car to Sioux Falls, SD to inspect.
- Insurance adjuster travels from Sioux Falls to Hot Springs, SD to inspect.
Neither options have happened yet. It’s going to be a very long week.