The Garden City Skyway Bridge Carrying The QEW Highway Across The Welland Canal At St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
August 25, 2006, 7:34 a.m.
Statistics say that most fatal accidents happen close to home. Thirty minutes into a twelve hour drive, we were cruising across the Skyway Bridge in St. Catharine’s, Ontario, in the left lane of three. After cresting the peak of the bridge, the car in front of us hit the median sending it into a death dance across all three lanes. It tipped back and forth on two wheels at a time, spun 360 degrees, continued to cavort and spin until it hit the concrete median again bringing the car to a stop facing us. I prayed aloud for protection and continued to pray silently throughout the ordeal. The other cars behind and around us fled on their way out of danger, while my husband stopped behind the stricken car and turned on our flashers. I exclaimed, “Get out of here!”
He replied, “We have to provide protection for that car.”
The driver emerged thrusting his fists into the air and stomping his feet on the pavement. He looked as if doing a ritual dance. I insisted, “We are going to be killed sitting here.”
“He is going to be killed if we don’t stay.”
I pulled out my phone to call 911, but, so shaken by the situation, I had difficulty punching in those three numbers in the right sequence. After three tries, I finally dialed successfully. Calling 911 in an emergency situation usually proves frustrating as they ask useless questions such as, “How did it happen?” as well as important questions which, in my nervous state, I neglected to relate – “Which direction?” I wanted to scream when she asked, “What kind of car?” What does it matter? As I asked my husband for the make, she questioned, “Is it maroon?” At first, we thought they must have a camera on the bridge, but later we realized someone apparently called before we did.
The victim came to my husband’s window in obvious shock and distress. My husband assured him, “You’re OK, buddy; you’re OK.”
The traffic continued to fly across the bridge with a couple of cars coming upon us so quickly that they had to slam on their brakes and my husband inched forwards to avoid being backended. I wanted to get out and flag traffic, but my husband thought it too dangerous. The victim handed us his CAA card to call for assistance. I was so frantic that I could not dial the number and told my husband to do it. Two more cars came up behind us, fishtailing to stop in time as we moved farther forward with me shrieking while watching the scene in my visor makeup mirror. I remembered information I have heard: Never stay in a stopped vehicle, even if you are on the shoulder! Sitting cars are often hit and the occupants killed. Get out of the car! We had no shoulder to be on! I jumped out of the car. I did not intend to die sitting there with my back to my killers.
Garden City Skyway, St. Catharines ON
The inner shoulder did not measure more than eighteen inches from the roadway to the concrete barrier separating the two sides of the road, but it afforded enough room to stand and swing my extended arm in half circles pointing to the right lanes. Cheerleading provided good preparation, but I wasn’t smiling in this hurrah. It was easy, and the cars responded appropriately. Then a semi truck came over the ridge in the middle lane. Because the roadway makes a turn to the right on the downside of the bridge, the truck blocked the view of our sedan with flashing lights from the faster cars in the left lane. To make sure they could see me, I moved a few more feet up the shoulder gesturing frantically. If I had not been signaling, no doubt we would have been killed.
A tow truck arrived first and parked in front of the damaged vehicle giving me no break from my duty, although his flashing yellow lights helped. At least fifteen minutes passed from the moment of impact before a police car arrived. As he stopped in front of me, I uttered with emotion, “I am so glad you are here! I was sure we would be killed.”
He replied, “This is a good place to die.”
Both the policeman and the victim thanked my husband for stopping. We thanked God for our lives.