I am back from a fantastic but rather rollercoaster weekend in Reykjavik with my friend Louisa – lots of crafting news and delicious yarn purchases to follow, but first I thought I would let you know about our Friday 13th mishap.
We were driving at 85kmh, just under the speed limit, on Route 1 near Vestamannaey on the South coast of the island, when we hit some gravel, swerved and lost control of the car. The little Chevrolet skidded left and right, before spinning 180 degrees, launching itself off the road and into the greenery, where it rolled onto its roof, then wheels, then roof again, before finally coming to a welcome stop on its wheels again. The whole accident probably lasted less than 20 seconds, but it’s certainly the most memorable of the trip!
When we came to a stop, I looked at Louisa, who had been driving. Her eyes were closed, and the first thing I thought was ‘oh my God, she’s unconscious!’. A nanosecond later, she opens her eyes, looks over at me, sees me covered top to toe in gravel and soil, and thinks ‘oh my God, that’s blood!’. It took us a little while to realise we were both ok and had survived a pretty frightening crash, before we were able to start trying to get out of the car.
I don’t think I realised how dramatic the accident had been until we looked back into the rear seats of the car to find that a)the interior and ceiling were covered in soil, gravel, bits of plants and various debris, and b) that there were no windows left. In fact, the only two windows that survived were the driver’s door and passenger’s door – I can only guess that the outcome would have been far worse if this had not been the case.
A lovely Glaswegian couple called William and Andrea Paton saw the accident and came to our aid, opening the doors for us as they had wedged shut. Miraculously, there was hardly a scratch on either Louisa or me, which I still can’t quite believe. We were both shaking like leaves, adrenaline sure is a powerful thing! I just couldn’t stop thinking, wow, that seatbelt just saved my life. Seatbelts are AWESOME!
Quick-thinking Louisa asked William and Andrea to start taking pictures of the car for evidence, at which time it became quite apparent that the car we had been travelling in wasn’t roadworthy – 3 of the 4 tyres were almost bald, and despite the force of the accident, none of the airbags had deployed. I was still sat in the car at this point, as I was so shocked, that I couldn’t really move – in my adrenaline-saturated state, I thought I would tidy up the inside of the car. You can imagine how ridiculous I looked, meticulously folding away the sat nav and audio cables, retrieving my sunglasses from the rubble, and neatly packing everything away with care into the rucksacks. Maybe it was just my way of staying calm.
The emergency services were fantastic – the ambulance was there in minutes and whisked us off to the hospital 90 minutes away in Selfoss, where we were given a full check up by (may I say an extremely dishy) doctor, and discharged to return to the hostel.
We’ve escaped with minimal injuries – I was on the side of the car that rolled first, so I have a small bump on my right temple, cuts on the right side of my neck where the seatbelt held me in place, and a big bump on my left leg from the cup holder in the middle. Louisa was on the other side, so has big bruises and abrasions on the tops of her legs from the seatbelt, and bumped her head on the roof as we flipped over. Both of us remember instinctively putting our hands up over our heads on the second roll, which probably did us some good.
I phoned my mum and she sounded really upset – you can say to your mum ‘I’m fine, honestly!’ as much as you like, but they still would rather you were safe and within view! Mum texted later on to remind us that it was Friday 13th, but the locals we met said that the date is considered lucky in Iceland, and I think we have been pretty lucky to walk away from the accident.
The road was just about as straight as you could imagine, so we just kept thinking, ‘how can a car skid on a straight road?’ This is a question we are still asking ourselves! Iceland is a pretty unpredictable country, with all sorts of weird weather and terrain, and I can only guess that we were pretty unlucky to hit just enough gravel to totally derail the car, and the bald tyres didn’t help matters.
The very next day,our friends from the hostel were caught in a freak sandstorm which was powerful enough to smash car windows – the emergency rescue team picked them up and they ended up taking refuge with other drivers in a school overnight – never underestimate the crazy Icelandic weather!
What’s most important is that we have both walked away from a serious accident, we have been so lucky. We are speaking with the hire firm, Sixt, as they leased us an obviously unsafe car, and it’s not through any care of theirs that we weren’t more seriously injured. It’s a week since the accident and I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck – my lovely UK doctor (not quite as dishy but just as wonderful) said that shock really affects the body, and that I’m likely to ache for quite a while. I’ve had a headache since around 8 hours after the crash that still hasn’t gone, and I’m absolutely shattered. But I’m very, very glad to be in one piece :)
The three important morals of this story are:
ALWAYS wear a seatbelt. Always. No excuse.
When you hire a car, don’t assume they’ve taken the time to check it is roadworthy – check the tyres and brakes, and remember to adjust the head restraints.
And just in case you weren’t listening the first time. Clunk click every trip!
I promise the next post will be business as usual – lots of crafty adventures :)