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Safety Technology in Automobiles Hits Home

Before becoming a parent I never really thought much about safety features when buying a car.  The salesperson would mention airbags or anti-lock breaks, but I was always more concerned with the size of the engine, or what kind of gadgets I can add as extras.  Once I became a parent I started to take a little more notice of things like latch restraints and side curtain airbags, but they still were not that important to me.  Thankfully my wife would always take notice of the safety features as I tried to determine what kind of options I should add to the interior.  Well, something happened last week that changed my life and outlook on automobile safety forever.

Last Tuesday started like any normal day.  It was going to be my second day back from winter break, and I was looking forward to preparing the Carlson High School Library for the new calendar year.  I was just about to leave for work and my mother-in-law asked if I would take her car and she could keep mine (her car only has one car seat, while mine has two).  I was in a hurry, so I did not put up much of a fight.  Looking back I am so thankful I switched cars.

After returning from lunch I received one of those phone calls no parent ever wants to receive.  My mother-in-law left a message on my office phone that she had been in an automobile accident.  My son, Nate was in the car at the time and they were being transported to a local hospital.  I ran to my boss to inform him that I had to leave and get to the hospital.  He was very understanding and I made my way to the emergency room.  I actually drove near the scene of the accident to arrive at the hospital.  I was in agony waiting to hear if everyone was safe.  The staff of the hospital informed me that nobody was allowed in the trauma center, and since this was a high-speed accident everyone had to be checked out by the trauma team.  A Brownstown Township fireman came and re-assured me that everyone was fine and I would be able to see my son and mother-in-law shortly.  My dad and wife arrived to join me in the waiting room.  Thankfully, after what seemed like a hour, we were allowed back.  My son was fine, just scared.  My mother-in-law was a little banged up, but nothing serious.  I was so thankful.

My car was hit by another vehicle traveling at nearly sixty miles per hour.  I was not able to see the damage until Friday when I went to the impound lot since the car was being "totaled" by the insurance company.

My son was sitting on that side of the back seating area
 When I saw the damage I could not believe there were not more serious injuries.  The insurance adjuster commented that if it were an older car, someone could have died (note, my mother-in-law's car is about ten years older than mine, so you can see why I am glad we traded that morning).  The front, side-curtain, and seat airbags kept everyone safe.  My son did not even have a scratch.  It turns out my wife knew what she was doing when she selected a Mercury Mariner back in 2008 when we leased this car (and when selecting car seats).  The Mariner is one of the safest sports utility vehicles on the road.  Let me just say, car safety has come a very long way in the past ten years!  Now that the car is totaled I am new car shopping, and you can guarantee that safety/collision ratings are very high on my list of features.  When you have little ones, a sweet sound system or exotic color just do not seem so important anymore.

A final note, the Brownstown Township Fire Department was wonderful during this traumatic time.  They took excellent care of my son, who was very scared after the accident.  When Nate was wheeled out of the trauma unit, a group of five to six firemen where all waiting to ask how he was doing.  In this area of "tax payer angst" I can say I am happy my tax dollars are paying the salaries of these outstanding civil servants.  Just remember when complaining about your tax bill, you do get what you pay for.  Thank you too all of the Brownstown Fireman that responded to the accident, you treated my son like he was your own!


  1. That's quite a story, Mike. Glad to see everything worked out to the best that this situation could. Hopefully everyone recovers real quick.

  2. Make sure to replace the car seats (Insurance will reimburse you) if they didn't already tell you.

    I am so glad all are OK!

    You are so right at how amazing those EMT's, FF's and Paramedics are. I had an experience on a visit to MI in 2008 with them. We were in Dundee at Cabellas and Ryan (then 4 1/2, severely autistic) fell out of my arms and hit a concrete floor in the aquarium area head first. It sounded like an egg hitting the floor and he went out immediately. I am still shocked sometimes to look back and recall how business like I was at first, start the assessment, check responsiveness, directing people to Call 911, page my husband, call my mother. The former Navy Corpsman in me popped tall for duty. I managed to check my emotions and focus on keeping him clear, immobile and as stable as I could without a lick of equipment while awaiting help. After the 911 call, 2 volunteer FF's from Dundee showed up probably seriously within 3 minutes of the call...they were working their day jobs nearby. Once they took over, I could lose it like any Mom would. They were unbelievably amazing until the paramedics arrived with gear and equipment. They basically held me together while my husband had to tend to our daughter, Call my Mom and of course get anything that might help Ryan from the car. Then he had to manage to follow an ambulance in territory completely unfamiliar to him. That ambulance ride to Motts childrens/U of M was probably the longest vehicle ride of my life. Ryan was on top of me in the stretcher, limp and seemingly lifeless, unconscious most of the ride. I had to lay there holding him, praying he didn't have a brain bleed, praying that the light wasn't going out that made his eyes shine, praying that he would be able to do all the tings we had worked SO hard to get him to do again. All the while they poked, prodded, tried to start IV's in a speeding ambulance, all on a nearly unconscious (but still fighting when he did come to) 4 1/2 year old autistic child. They were freaking amazing! All in all, Ryan had a terrible concussion and a skull fracture, but no bleeds Thank God. He spent 2 nights in the hospital before he was with it enough to allow us to travel back to WI, which we did over two days since the car ride was tough on him.

    Those people were all SO amazing! I can tear up just thinking about how Ryan was treated like their own children would be. It took the whole summer to get him to cognitively recover, but he ultimately did.

    Again, So glad everyone is OK!

  3. Thanks, @ Michelle, wow what a story. Glad to hear everything was ok with Ryan as well. We just take people for granted sometimes, I just wanted those guys to know how thankful I was for their help.

  4. Thanks for sharing Mike, great story and very glad everyone is ok...


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