my family and i are visiting san francisco for a couple days this week. the kids are enjoying ‘mid-winter break’ and minhee and i are attempting to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. i love this city. i grew up in san francisco; we got engaged in this city; our parents still live here; and we very much enjoy visiting one of the most incredible cities in the world.
but i realized on our way down that it’s been nearly 3 years since we’ve visited san francisco. by far, this is the longest stretch that i’ve been away from SF. it helped that our parents have instead, flown up to visit us in Seattle but i shared with my wife that honestly, there’s a part of me that’s been reticent to visit the city. why?
well, three summers ago, i endured through my most terrifying ‘near-death experience.’ i know that others have their stories but believe me on this one: i thought it was over. as i rolled around on the concrete streets in one of the busier intersections, my last visual memory was seeing minhee and the three kids screaming and crying.
the crazy story:
- after visiting twin peaks in SF, we’re at a red light and proceed on our green light into a busy intersection.
- a honda civic on our right begin to slowly (while picking up speed) enters into the intersection and heads toward our car.
- we can’t back up as cars are behind us. we honk our horn and i probably say a few choice words. the civic’s side scrapes the front of our car but continues to go into the intersection and heads towards opposite traffic.
- as the civic goes by, we notice the female driver’s head and neck flailing. it’s a scary image. minhee screams. i scream louder. we both scream. we realize she’s having a seizure.
- minhee screams, “help her!” (i was intending to help. honestly, i was…)
- i get out of car and begin to run after her car as it’s picking up speed.
- i catch up and grab her door handle and ‘luckily’ the door is open. i open the door. if i could do this all over again, i would have gone for the hand brake but in the moment, i chose to dive into the car and with my hands, i go for the foot brake. i slam the brakes with my hand (as 1/2 my body is sticking out of the civic) and stop the car! for a split second, i’m honestly feeling pretty proud of myself. i’m a pseudo hero.
- the dream turns into a nightmare. the young lady (according to doctors later) wakes up from her seizure or has another episode and her whole body stiffens up and as a result, one of legs slams on the accelerator.
- i’m hanging on to the brake pedal as we’re going from 0-60. at some point, i can no longer hang on. as i let go, one of the rear tires of the civic run over my left leg and over my left ankle.
- fortunately for this gal, she goes through traffic without hitting any other cars or pedestrians. she’s stopped as she runs smack middle into a tree.
i honestly thought i had died at this point. all of the above probably happened within 10 seconds. firetrucks, police, and ambulances all came to the scene. after i realized i was still alive, the pain in my left leg/ankle was pretty excruciating but after being taken to the emergency room, the doctors were all pretty amazed that nothing was broken. the young lady, amazingly, walked away from this with one bruise on her left shoulder. i later found out (at the hospital since we were taken to the same place) that she was six months pregnant. i occasionally still hear from her family.
this near death accident forced minhee and i to really re-examine our lives – our marriage, our children, our values, our goals, our faith, and our purpose in life. i guess near death incidents have the tendency to do that. as we’ve driven around san francisco the past couple days, we’ve taken some time to reflect on the incident. even in the midst of some fear i still harbor, we realize god’s favor, protection, and blessings over our lives.
when the medics came to the scene, they pretty much ripped through my pants to see the damage on my leg and ankle. it was pretty embarrassing (and cold) to be in the middle of the intersection in my underwear. they later covered me up but i managed to find this picture of my pants from that day… be safe everyone!