Posts Tagged road

The Accidental Hero

The Accidental Hero

I was having a late lunch, as usual. There are several reasons for that, first, it seems everyone in Addis Ababa have lunch at the same time, so the restaurants are always packed to the brim. The second reason is because, you can eat a 30 mins lunch, but it can take you 1 hour to commute to and fro. Plus another 30 mins waiting for your lunch. So I normally eat my lunch late.

This day, I was driving to a restaurant about 10 mins by road from my office, I usually use these driving times to think about the project we are deploying for the client in Addis Ababa. They are fine with the functionalities and the User Interface, but they are really hagging us about the overall user experience, so these 10 to 15 mins drive are usually think sessions for me.

There was a taxi in front of me, who was driving very slow, barely about 30 KPH, I didn’t mind, so I was just slowly driving behind him, thinking. The driver behind me wasn’t that patient, he was hooting as loud as possible. When I got the chance, I pulled a bit to the side and he passed, but the taxi driver wasn’t that considerate. The car was a Toyota Vito, and he was pushing his horn as loud as possible. It was comical at first, but then it became annoying, and after a while, I gave up my thinking session, concentrating on the drama going on in front of me.

What I am going to describe next is my opinion of what actually happened. The Vito got a chance, probably because it was a small car, he floored the accelerator and he started overtaking the taxi. Halfway through, when he was side by side with the taxi, he slowed down and started saying something to the taxi driver in Amaric. The taxi driver didn’t keep quiet either, this exchange of words went on for about 30 seconds; then I saw it. Both drivers couldn’t see it because they weren’t concentrating on the road. The was a stationary lorry on the road, right in front of the Vito.

What happened next was pure magic. If the Vito had not accelerated more than the 25 KPH it was going, it would have been fine. But the Vito driver decided he’s had enough and floored the pedal again. Just seconds before reaching the lorry. All the while I had my hand on my horn, at the same time flashing my light, trying to get the attention of the angry drivers, but it didn’t work. The Vito driver floored the acceleration, his eyes still on the taxi driver and in a split second there was a big bang, a big noise, metals flying everywhere, the taxi driver braked. I braked, people scrambling everywhere and it was all chaos for a moment. The Vito had ran straight into the lorry. And then silence.

Then I started hearing a faint hooting from the distance. The hooting started growing louder and louder and louder until I realise it was from me. I still had my hands on my horn. I removed my hand and then once again silence. I looked at the taxi driver, he was gripping his steering as if his whole life depended on it. His mouth wide open. I looked back at the Vito, now barely recognisable. I saw a faint smoke coming from the car, and something moved at the passenger seat.

Then it hit me, if there’s smoke, then there’s fire, or there will be fire. The driver was still in the car, and that something or someone beside him in the passenger seat. I couldn’t remember him having a passenger. I started pushing my horn again. This time the taxi driver was jolted back to life, he moved his taxi. I drove a bit away from the accident scene, parked my car, took off my shoes and my jacket and in a split second I was running bare footed with only my socks on towards the scene of the accident.

At first people were trying to rescue the Vito driver, but by the time I got back to the scene, the smoke from the car was beginning to get thick and people started moving back in case there was an explosion (or so I thought).

I tried the driver door, but it wouldn’t budge. I knocked on the window and the driver moved. Good. This time, my brain must have been in overdrive. I took off my shirt, rolled up my jeans and climbed into the lorry, looking for something, anything to open the doors with. I found something like a wrench, but it was heavy enough. I climbed back down quickly. This time the smoke has filled the car, so I couldn’t see properly. I smashed the rear windscreen several times with the wrench like tool, and finally it gave way. Hot smoke blew in my face and for a moment I was stunned. I quickly regained my composure and I found that smoke was clearing from the car.

At that point, I was afraid to go into the car. But then I remembered I have a fire extinguisher in the car. I ran back to the car, found the doors ajar and wondered if I lock them or not. My brain told me I couldn’t care about that now. I took my fire extinguisher and ran back to the scene. I unhooked the fire extinguisher, and tried it to see if it works, it did. I placed the extinguisher at a safe distance, hoping that if a fire started while I am inside, someone wil be brave enough to use it. I climbed into the car, and found that the thing that moved was a Dog. I later learnt that the driver was rushing the Dog to the veterinary. I looked at the driver, he has his seat belt on, and the air bag didn’t deploy. I tried the door from the inside, it gave way a little. I gingerly took the Dog and place it on the back seat. I didn’t know how injured it was, but it was in a bad shape. I sat on the passenger seat and started kicking the driver door as had as I could. My feet was hurting because I was barefooted, but I didn’t care.

Two of the braver onlookers must have summoned up enough courage. The came to the car and started pulling the door while i kicked. It helped. The door came off. One of them unhooked the seat belt and two of them carried the driver out. I took the Dog and came out.

They were speaking Amaric, so I started shouting “Who Speaks English”, “Who Speaks English”, one of them came to me and I told him, tell them to take him to my car. He told them and they did. We place the man on the back seat. He was bleeding, but we don’t know from where, I placed the Dog on the floor behind the driver seat and then I couldn’t find my car keys.

By now I was getting physically tired, but I ran back to the scene, one of the guys was putting out a small fire from the engines with my extinguisher, i looked in the car, no keys, I looked on the ground no keys. I quickly climbed back into the lorry and I found the key on the floor. At that point, I heard a very familiar but sooting sound, the sirens. The emergency services are on their way. Apparently someone had called them.

I didn’t know how far they are, so I went to the car, started the engine, and told the guy that could speak to climb in the passenger seat. I told him to direct me towards the sound of the siren. I must have been driving like mad, Or so the guy told me later (His name is Yohannes). We met the sirens after about 2 mins of driving. I waved them down, they slowed down and the guy spoke amaric to them. They stopped, took the man from the back seat, put him on a stretcher, put him in the back of their bus and started driving off. Instinctively, I drove after them.

When we got to the hospital, they didn’t allow me in, two policemen came to me and started asking me questions. I was too tired to speak. I looked at myself, the blood on me, on my backseat and all I could say to them was, will he be ok? They told me, he will be ok, thanks to me, they told me their was a big fire now at the scene and the fire service are on their way there. They said they would like me to come with them, they want to take my statement etc etc etc. I just sat there, thought about the whole incidence and tears started streaming down my face. I cried like that for about 5 mins before I got in the police car and they drove me to their station.

It’s now been a week, I am still in shock. The police men recommended I should see a therapist, but I know I will be fine. I still couldn’t bring myself to drive past the scene though. I later learnt from Yohannes that the man is OK, but his Dog didn’t make it. I am planning to visit him at the hospital before he gets discharged.

 

DISCLAIMER: This story is purely fictional. Thanks for reading this far.

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