A few of you have replied to my emails and have asked me what exactly happened to my mom.  Well, truth be told, we don’t know exactly. The only witnesses were, unfortunately, my bother’s 4 and 6 year old kids who don’t quite command the vocabulary to explain it all.  Their view was also fortunately blocked by the driver and passenger seats that rise well above their back-of-the-car-kid-seat-buckled-in position. That said, this is what I KNOW and what we have CONCLUDED.

My mom was on her way to meet my brother and his wife for dinner. They were already at the restaurant with their littlest child and my mom was at my brother’s house getting ready to take the other two kids with her.  My brother lives in a suburb of Seattle in a nice little neighborhood where the houses are pleasantly nestled in with one another.  Their driveway has a definite slope, so it’s important to park cars with the e-brake on, especially when it’s cold out.  Since my mom was driving his kids to the restaurant, she borrowed his mini van that was already equipped with the childrens’ seats.

She buckled the kids in, started the car, and tried to back out of the driveway. She quickly realized that the e-brake was on as the car was not moving. Unable to find the brake (as she was unfamiliar with the car), she called my brother for help.  From the restaurant he helped her navigate the car and locate the brake which is somewhere on the left, down below the dashboard, oh wait not the lever for the hood, the other one . . . . . as he talked her through the steps the phone suddenly went dead. He called back several times only to get her voicemail.  Oddly, in between calls, they got a voicemail from someone from the fire department asking them to call back.  They were a little confused, but obeyed the message, called back and got someone on the line.  It was indeed the fire department.  A calm, stoic female voice simply said there had been an accident and they needed to come home right away.  This was only minutes after the phone had disconnected the call with my mom.

Fortunately, they were only minutes from their house.  They pulled into what my brother described as a surreal nightmare. The kind of dream that is so vivid, yet you feel convinced it’s not really happening. Police, fire trucks, and an ambulance were outside his home. Commotion, stress, and confusion accompanied.  My mom was on the sidewalk and his car was backed up onto his front lawn.  The kids stood beside their grandmother, Mimi, but were well protected by the emergency crew.  A neighbor had wanted to take the kids inside, but without consent from the parents, they had to remain at the scene.

My brother had the neighbor take the kids inside as he consoled my mom.  He describes a woman more brave than I can imagine.  He didn’t know what had happened to my mother, but clearly it was bad. The driveway was covered with feathers that lined my mom’s parka just moments earlier and she, laying on the ground, said her leg “didn’t work”.  She apologized profusely for not being able to get to the kids out of the car on her own and assured my brother she was fine.  As the doctors examined my mother the assessed right away that she had a chest injury and a broken leg, at least. The combination of the injuries they knew of justified immediate attention at the trauma center.  They  called for a medivac, but the helicopter had a mechanical problem, so off she went in an ambulance.

The kids were tight lipped about the accident for the first couple days and expressed their feelings only through slightly more wild behavior.  Eventually they started talking about it and that’s when we started to piece things together.  Lauren, the 6 year old said that Mimi (my mom’s nickname by the kids) was trying to fix the brake and had gotten out of the car. Suddenly the car started going backwards by itself.  Mark, the 4 year old, got scared and unbuckled his seat.  The car continued to roll, but was stopped after rolling up on to the grass and hitting the “for rent” sign on my brothers lawn (they are moving in a few weeks).  They could see from the car their grandma lying on the curb.

So, with these pieces of evidence, we’ve concluded that my mom put the car in reverse.  When the car wouldn’t move, she called my brother to get help finding the brake. She got out of the car to look for it, found it, and released it. We suspect that she forgot the car was already in reverse, so when the brake was off the car moved back and she was trapped between the drivers seat and the door.  The door pushed her to the ground and with the car moving back she was effectively trapped and run over by the car. Her injuries are all the left side of her body: a broker femur, 5-6 broken ribs, a bruised lung, a fractured left wrist, and fractures on the left cheek bone, sinus, and above the left eye.

I hate to say she’s a lucky woman because this is the kind of luck that only applies to something not been as catastrophic as it’s potential.   But, she is measurably a LUCKY woman. She is all of 4-inches-to-the-left a LUCKY woman.  The other upside is that Harborview medical center is the best trauma center in the region and she is receiving excellent care.