The people involved in the car accident I'm about to describe are all fine. Humanity, however, is not.
My husband and his co-worker were travelling on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway on March 7, and were in an accident just south of Airdrie. Black ice was responsible and he broadsided a car that had slid across two lanes. It was incredibly scary, no one was at fault, and luckily no one sustained any serious injuries. Emergency crews were on the scene quite quickly, and everything was cleared and cleaned up within an hour of the accident.
Here’s where things went badly.
At 6:30 a.m., traffic is reasonably heavy on that highway as commuters head south toward Calgary. Many cars were in other lanes at the time of the accident, and many people would have likely noticed the crash, or passed by it immediately afterwards.
But no one stopped. Not one car pulled over to act as witness or offer assistance. With windchill, the temperature was hovering around -30 C at that time. Traffic quickly jammed up and slowed to a crawl as cars had to get into the right-hand lanes to avoid the collision. Emergency crews accessed the scene using the shoulders, and a tow truck arrived to load up my husband’s truck.
Doesn’t sound too bad yet, right? But here's where it gets obnoxious.
A man in another pick-up truck made it just past the scene, and was clearly annoyed at the delay. He swerved directly in front of the fire truck blocking the lane and stepped on the gas. Because of the black ice on the road that caused the initial collision, he promptly spun out and crashed into the guardrail on the right-hand side, not even 50 meters ahead. His truck was quite damaged in the front end and was no longer drivable.
I can assure you that my husband didn’t wake up that day with the intention of ruining anyone’s morning, day, or life, Perhaps a little patience and awareness of the conditions would have prevented that accident. Coincidentally, no one pulled over to assist him, either.
Here’s where things got even worse.
As my husband’s truck was being loaded onto the deck, someone rolled down the window, yelled at the tow truck driver, and spit at him. Why on Earth would you do such a thing?
During this time, I was on the road and on the way to pick my family up from the scene and bring them home. I was stuck in traffic like everyone else as I tried to reach them. I didn’t know what to expect when I got there, and I was anxious. I stayed in the left-hand lane the entire time, and when I was about 20 car lengths away, my husband called to ask my ETA, as they were freezing. He told me to drive the rest of the way on the left shoulder, to get there faster. Within seconds I was subjected to a barrage of honking, lewd hand gestures, and cars swerving into the shoulder to impede my progress.
I understand that it’s annoying to see someone trying to skirt around traffic, but does no one give the benefit of the doubt anymore? Finally I had to roll down my window to tell the driver blocking me that I was trying to reach my family who were in the accident up ahead. He apologized and moved out of the way. Until the next car, and a semi from the middle lane got into the action and blocked me. Hostility on all sides.
The positives? The police, firefighters, paramedics, and tow truck driver were all lovely, and no one was seriously injured. It didn’t take too long to clear the scene. Were some people late for work? Yes, likely. Was it a big enough deal to lose all compassion and human decency for people in a scary situation? Absolutely not.
I refuse to believe this is the direction humanity is heading, but given the actions and reactions of people that cold morning on the QEII, it’s getting harder and harder to hope for the best.