Let’s just start here:
I got hit by a truck last Sunday night…while I was running
I’ll let you take the moment to process those words; because once again, I am having to do the same. This was not how the run was supposed to go. However, my dearest reader, like all things that involve blood, sweat, tears, and laced profanity that you hear at your local tractor pull lot…this is a story that must be shared.
Throughout the day last Sunday, the end of a cut week, I had learned to paint and sketch. Literally, with my mother and her paint set, I was attempting to make a birthday card for a student. The weather was absolutely miserable; it had started warm, turned below freezing, and the howling wind took us out of April and slapped us back into January.
It was awful.
I still had to get my run in.
After leaving my mother for the night, my wife and I arrived back at our home at approximately 8:00 PM CST. Understanding what darkness meant; I layered up, sucked up my pride, chose not to apply Squirrels Nut Butter, and went out for a seemingly short six mile run. All the trails were closed, due to rain (and foolish people tearing up the trails), so I told myself I’d just head out on the paved trail. Three miles out, three miles back, how hard is that?
Darkness made it hard.
Like an innocent child, I still get horrifying nightmares. You know; the ones where God comes back to judge everyone, the sky rolls back like a scroll, there is a trumpet involved, fire, screaming, blah, blah blah…the usual. Unfortunately, the side effect of those nightmares resulted in myself having some issues with the nighttime, specifically when I am alone.
Setting for the run: Non-lit paved pathway, howling wind, cloud covered night sky, with the red/orange glow from the metropolitan area to our south.
Other potential perceived setting: Hell.
In my head I had this great idea. If the dark was giving me problems, why not run in the dark without a headlamp turned on? With the glow of Dante’s Inferno to the south (see: Kansas City) I could see the flat, paved path in front of me. Easy.
I decided to run with my headlamp turned off. Unfortunately, for those weak in the mind and spirit, this is not the best idea for therapy. Two miles into the run, I swore up and down that I was rather certain the devil was chasing me…or at least an evil spirit…or a serial killer…or worse…a politician. I scared myself to the point to where I decided to keep running. I did not turn back at mile three. In fact; I sped up. Running through the woods on a paved trail, watching trees from the “Nightmare Before Christmas” spin around me, and people, I could not make my music any louder. While cruising through the trail, I told myself a very basic idea:
Get to the trail head. Six miles away from your start point. Call your wife to pick you up; you’re likely having an anxiety attack, but no one can reach you at the moment. You have to finish to the trailhead.-My inner thoughts-
I flew up the trail to the trailhead. Gasping for air, feeling the burn in my muscles, and thinking to myself, “I have to get out of here!” Lungs collapsing. skin freezing, and wind punishing my face, I glanced down at my Garmin…and to my horror…it read…
I nearly cried because I was having a mentally rough run. However, I also knew this; the road from the trailhead to my house was exactly one mile. If I could run back home, this nightmare would be over.
I turned on my headlamp. I TURNED ON MY HEADLAMP, and started down the road on the left side. This is a two lane road without a shoulder. There is a blind hill leading into my neighborhood. I hate this road. It is near the lake and the boat launch, which means idiots are out frequently driving around. .75 miles into the final mile of the run, I transitioned to the right side of the road (meaning I was running with traffic due to the blind hill and there not being a shoulder available). I stepped on the single track chat stripping alongside the asphalt and made my way, against the screaming northern wind, to the neighborhood.
I was not physically on the road.
That’s when the car passed me. They slowed down, pulled over to the far left, and went around me and carried on with their drive. I thought nothing of it, minus a little bit of gratitude for them slowing down (non-lit, back farm roads that are paved, are honestly pretty scary at night).
It was only after that car passed me, that through my AfterShokz, I heard the upcoming vehicle. Easily a truck; either a diesel or a truck with a modified exhaust. Again, I thought nothing of it because of the vehicle that was right in front of them that had passed me safely.
The exhaust had a very distinct noise…
(with a rolling “r”) *”Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr”*
…which came with another very distinct noise…
The next thing I knew there was part of the truck that was in the ditch in front of me. Pain was already beginning to radiate up my left arm, and for some reason, someone was screaming at the top of their lungs.
It took me a staggering three seconds to figure that I was the one screaming. At first it was just an animalistic growl, which slowly transitioned into more a backwoods animalistic phrasing along the lines of, “Get back here you M****** F******! I’ll F******* kill you!” (I’m so sorry mother). I should also confess that all of the years of public speaking went out the door, and the subtle southern drawl returned with a vengeance. Truly, I am ashamed.
Everything was happening very fast. As I walked into the ditch, I grabbed the ‘piece’ of truck, with my left hand, that had been flung off the vehicle. A side mirror. The story started to make sense; a truck driving too close had struck my left arm right above the elbow with their side mirror, the mirror was ripped off the truck and flung into the ditch.
The truck drove away.
The truck drove away?
The. Truck. Drove. Away.
At this point, I’m now stomping through a random persons yard while walking into my neighborhood. The profanity had not stopped, a barking dog may have been threatened, and while I was walking…I did the thing that I have had issues with in the past…
Calling my wife to tell her something happened to me.**
“Hey. I need you to pick me up.”
“Ok? Are you ok?”
“Well, I got hit by a car…”
“WHAT! OH MY GOSH! OK!”
“Yeah, I’m at the neighborhood entrance walking in…”
While my wife was getting herself together to come get me. I did two extremely important things:
“Heeeey, sorry to bother you at night. I thought you’d want to know if something happened to me. I got hit by a car; Darci is on her way to pick me up.”
“Um. Ok. Yeah, this would be something that we’d like to know.”
“So? Do I go to the hospital or something? This is new to me.”
“Uh. I’d suggest talking to your wife about that?”
“Ok. I’ll let you know what we find out.”
Darci rolled up in her Subaru (because…trail running, Colorado wannabes). We sat in the car for a minute. Kind of looked at each other, and I said, “So…what do we do?” After some discussion; I called the emergency room at North Kansas City Hospital. I felt really guilty because I was sure they were swamped with COVID-19 cases, so I did not want to go if I really did not have to.
“Hello, this is North Kansas City Hospital.”
“Yes, can I get transferred to the emergency room?”
“Yes, one moment.”
“Hi, this is the emergency room at North Kansas City Hospital.”
“Hi, my name is Shawn, and I’m not sure if I should come down to see you tonight. I was running and I got hit by a car, my arm hurts, so is that worth a trip to see you?”
“Oh. Yes. Yes, you definitely have had an experience that would suggest a trip to see us would be ideal.”
“Ok. I’ll be there in about twenty minutes. Thanks.”
Please note; while all this is going on, that side mirror is sitting in my lap. I took that mirror from the ditch because I did not want that driver coming back, looking for the mirror, and escaping with evidence (Political Science degree at work!). Next, I called my mother…
“Hey Jim, is mom awake? Yeah, I need you to wake her up. This is important.”
“Hey mom, mom, mom I need you to wake up.”
“No, not the ‘old person awake’, I need you to be alert.”
“Ok, well, I got hit by a car. I’m fine, but we’re heading down to the ER.”
“Do you want us to meet you there.”
“No. You’re a high risk person due to your age with COVID. Darci is with me, so I have a babysitter. We’ll let you know what’s going on.”
“Make sure you file a police report.”
On the way down to the hospital, I started going through scenarios with my arm. Was it broken? Was it shattered? Was it…fine? I wasn’t sure because I knew I was in shock, but physiologically I was able to bend down, bend my arm, and pick up the mirror off the ground. At the same time….my arm hurt and it was swelling. I sent a text to my administrator at school, saying that my eLearning classes may be a bit off the next day because I was hit by a car. You could imagine what that response looked like. I didn’t have a doctor’s note, so I sent him a picture of me with a mask and the broken mirror.
Upon entry to North Kansas City Hospital, we got our masks (Which, by the way, people; use mouthwash! Those N95 masks are a never-ending reminder of how badly your breath stinks.), Darci had her temperature taken, and I filled out some paperwork. The kind nurses asked me, “What’s going on?” I said I was hit while I was running, here’s the mirror if they’d like to see it. Each nurse responded with, “Ok, you were jogging and got hit by a vehicle.” It wasn’t worth the battle at the moment. When checking me in, they went ahead and checked my blood pressure (hehe…), I prompted them early that it would be high*. They were kind enough to not tell me the numbers, seriously that was a request by me. When the nurse came in to the room, she asked what had happened. I responded with, “I was hit by a car while I was running. There’s the mirror if you want to see it.” Her response was, “Ok, so you were jogging and a vehicle struck you.” Again, not worth the battle.
The x-ray machine came, some radiation was leaked on my skin, you know, the usuals. There were no breaks. No fractures. Nothing.
There was nothing.
At the same time I could hear Darci on the phone with the police,
“Yes, he was running and he was hit by a truck.”
“What? Is he ok?”
“We’re at the ER right now, but it looks pretty good.”
“Ok, so your husband was jogging and was struck by a truck. The truck left the scene?”
“Yes, but my husband has their side mirror.”
“He broke the truck?”
“It broke off at impact.”
“Ok, one moment [gets on radio; “all active officers please meet me at Grace Church on F, we’ll be canvassing for a truck with a missing right mirror”]. Please let us know when you’re back in town.”
Doctor comes into the room, while I’m taking selfies and chatting with students at midnight because they found out via Twitter that there had been an accident. One of them, in a very dramatically typed tone, “You can’t die yet.” <–Good to know. Thanks for the permission. They had been watching Grey’s Anatomy…again.
A new conversation starts:
“So, you were jogging along a road and you were hit by a truck?”
“Yes, there’s the mirror if you’d like to see it.”
“You kept the mirror?”
“Were you wearing reflective material?”
“I had reflective material on my gloves, shoes, and headband attached to a LIT headlamp. I was not wearing a black jacket or coat.”
“Alright. Well, you have no breaks or fractures. Probably a bone bruise. We’ll give you a muscle relaxer prescription, and you’ll be good to go home.”
Heading home we called the police and met them at the station. We supplied them with the broken mirror. Upon returning home, I realized how severe the damage had actually been on my body.
Between the fear, adrenaline, and lack of Squirrels Nut Butter, my legs were bleeding from the chaffing from the run!
My arm hurt too.
After a shower with relaxing Mountain Time Soap, everything started to wear off and I started to notice that I was very tired. To bed I went…and the phone rang. It was the police at 1:45 AM.
“Just letting you know, we found the truck and individual that hit you, the mirror matched. We’ll be following up with an investigation.”
In the end; this is what we wound up with: I was struck by a truck traveling between 35-45mph on Sunday evening in the dark. Their right side mirror struck my left arm, causing the mirror to snap off and fly into the ditch. The driver of the truck kept driving and fled the scene. The emergency room visit resulted in no breaks or fractures, but a likely bone bruise. The police located the vehicle 4 hours after the incident had taken place.
Plus…my mother bought me a light up vest for my night runs now…so there’s that.
*This is a flex: Hard run, plus trauma from an accident, plus the anxiety of being in a hospital…my blood pressure was a smooth 130/80! Some of you know how big of a deal this is for me.
**Prior to this event, when I busted my head open on our sidewalk outside our house, I told my wife about it by sending her a selfie of myself covered in blood sitting in the back of the ambulance. She was not impressed with my sense of humor.
TL;DR The more time I’ve had to actually process the entire event, the scarier it actually became. My wife and I discussed how 99.9% of vehicle accidents involving a pedestrian result in some sort of potential critical injury or death. Somehow, by inches, literally, I pulled the .1%. That reality is quite frightening when looking closer at it.
I also think this is a good time to highlight the fact that, that specific trailhead has zero access points for pedestrians, and only access through vehicle. For it to be a trailhead into a state park; I find this disheartening and frustrating. While, obviously, the lack of pedestrian safe ways doesn’t necessarily constitute blame towards the city or park systems, it does highlight an increasing danger for all those who are choosing not to travel by automotive vehicle.