help with a smashed windshield

The Close Call That Could Have Been Closer

After a near miss, one driver helps another who had an even closer call

A preschool teacher in Marin County, California, just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, Kerstin Nash was driving to an appointment one morning when she was startled to find herself on the edge of a disaster.

“I was going northbound on 101 at about 10 in the morning, and I’m looking three to four car lengths in front of me and scanning the horizon, like you’re supposed to,” she says, “and there’s a cement truck ahead of me and all of a sudden I see this thing fly straight up in the air and it’s a shovel, one of the kind with the square head.”

A sight like that would startle anyone. But Nash managed to keep her wits about her. “It spins in the air three times, and comes hurtling toward me like a javelin. Well, there are no cars in front of me, so I speed up,” Nash recalls. The shovel missed her car, but that wasn’t the end of the story. In fact, it was only the beginning.

“I watched in the rear view mirror as the shovel goes through the windshield of the Acura behind me, pops back out, and then flips over that car,” she told Good Turns recently. “I’m thinking, ‘She’s dead.’ I wanted to get away, so I pulled into the next lane, because when people die they hit the accelerator, I figured, I don’t know why. But she pulls up next to me and she’s probably in her 60s, and she’s just shaking. She’s covered in glass. So I motioned to her to get in front of me.”

“I think it’s just the way I was raised. I want to pay it forward. You never know.”

The woman pulled off the freeway, and Nash followed, calling 911 to let them know there was a shovel on the freeway and potentially an injured woman behind the wheel of the car she was following. “I’m expecting her to pull over, but she got back on the freeway heading south, and she went to the Acura dealer where she had bought the car,” Nash says.

“She got out of the car and she was shaking. She ran over to me and hugged me and wouldn’t let go,” Nash says. “She said, ‘Thank you so much.’ I didn’t know whether or not she knew that I was following her. But we got her inside and got her cleaned up, and then I waited for the highway patrol to come and they took it from there.”

“Then I went on my way,” Nash says. “Later on, she called me and thanked me. The cops called me. It turns out the shovel handle hit the windshield in the exact place where the rear view mirror was attached, which was the only reason it bounced out. It would have impaled her. She was lucky.”

She was lucky to have Nash on the road when the accident happened. “I’m one of those people who, if I see a little three-year-old running down the street crying, I pull over. I tend to help people in parking lots, older people with their shopping carts or people with crying children. Maybe it’s because of what I do for a living, but I really think it’s just the way I was raised. I want to pay it forward,” Nash says. “You never know.”

“My son is like, ‘Don’t pull over, mom.’ And I tell him, ‘Oh, you know we’re pulling over.'” One day, he’ll be glad they did.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Thom Conlon

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