Last Saturday night, we received a frantic call from DD Erica at about 9:40 pm, saying she had just been in an accident on the highway a few miles from home. She was unhurt, as were her three passengers, but she was very upset about her car being wrecked. She said she had hit a tree and that a bunch of other cars were also involved in the accident. She was so upset that it was hard to get exactly what happened. Grant and I jumped in my car and approached the site of the accident on Highway 126. There were about a mile of flares set up and multiple Highway Patrol cars. We were lucky to get through, as they closed the highway at the offramp behind us about five minutes after we passed it. We slowly inched up to a long, wide curve in the highway. Our headlights hit the tree--it was an enormous eucalyptus, probably 60-80 feet tall, that had fallen from the park on the side of the highway, across a drainage ditch, the shoulder, and both lanes of the highway. You could not see it at all until your lights hit it as it is very dark there. We were funneled off to the inside shoulder to go around all the branches. The debris field was huge. We passed several severely damaged vehicles and were directed by the patrolman to park on the shoulder in front of all the other cars. There were at least 6 cars we saw, including an ambulance with a smashed windhield and front end damage that was in front of Erica's car. Her windshield was almost completely smashed, there were dents in the fender and side panel, and both front blinkers were gone. Her passengers all told us that they were unhurt. Erica told us that she was driving in the right lane behind someone, as her offramp was coming up. That driver slowed down for an unknown reason and she changed lanes to go around him, while on the large curve on the dark highway. Suddenly her lights hit the huge tree but it was far too late to stop, especially as the other driver was now behind her. She hit through the tree and as she came out the other side, there were two vehicles on either side of her that had also driven through the tree; she had to negotiate through them, making her own lane, with inches to spare. She did not hit any of the vehicles and pulled to the side of the road. Only then did she lose her composure!
Erica gave her statement to the Highway Patrolman and a tow truck loaded her car onto the bed and took it away. As we exited the highway, we saw yet another vehicle parked and covered with tree debris. We contacted our insurance company immediately and a rental car was approved. The body shop did an estimate on the car repair which totaled more than $3800, which was also approved by the insurance company. Yesterday, we got a letter from the insurance company about the accident. It said that after initial investigation, "the driver of our car was 100% at fault for striking a stationary object". WHAT THE H*LL!
Stationary object? Well, yeah, I guess, AFTER it fell across the highway!