May 17, 1977
(Note: Once again, this is my recollection interjected with eye witness reports. I do to this day remember everything as if it happened yesterday. I was conscious the entire time until 11:30 the next morning when I was taken into surgery.)
It had been an uneventful week at the station in Macon. I had moved to Macon in October of the previous year and was working for a radio station that had just been bought by a friend. I had just received the ratings and was not only number one in the market but had posted a listener ship that was unequaled up to that time!
I was also doing a lot of outside work for Playboy Records, Capricorn and performing in nightclubs. It was after working with country star Razzy Bailey (I was his announcer for nearly 2 years) at a nightclub that once again my world was turned upside down.
It was around 2:30 in the morning and I was giving a ride home to one of the waitresses. We were traveling on I75 south near the Forsyth/Hardeman exit when all of a sudden the car (a Datsun 510 station wagon that I had just had the interior redone...sigh) filled with light. The next thing I know I was scrambling.
The sounds of the impact and my car rolling were deafening I am reminded of them every time I watch a race and cars spin out of control. It is the car bouncing on the highway, though, that still remains horrifying! I had been rear ended by a drunk driver. He was doing 120 and I was doing 55.
I remember being thrown back and the feeling of weightlessness. The car flipped 3 times end over end. It hit the guardrail, then begin to roll. It was on that first roll that I was thrown from the vehicle nearly 70 feet into the air! I can still see the roadway coming at me as I came down (thank goodness it was really blurry as my glasses had been ripped from my face.) I tucked into a ball as best I could and hit head first. It took the back of my scalp from top to neck off and shattered my elbow.
It is so vivid as I looked up and saw the car come down on top of me. It bounced once on my head and took the entire right side of my face. I will say, that hurt and I do remember that! I was not going to let that happen again! I managed to keep away be kicking off the roof every time it came near until we were both just skidding down the highway. Me on my back and the car on it's side with my feet on it's roof. I was so relieved when we slowed to a stop and I could not believe I had survived. Whew.....unfortunately, the car took one final lean and fell over on it's roof with me under it. Just my luck...
I could not breathe from the weight of the car and I struggled frantically to free myself. Fortunately, the roof had caved in and there was just enough room for me to crawl in. I got the car to rock just enough to free myself a little at a time so I could inch my way to the space.. I was still on my back and every time I could get it to move, Once I was wedged into the caved in part, I managed to free my right leg. But I ran out of strength and my left leg remained pinned. That is where I remained for another 35 minutes.
Lots of thoughts go through your head. I knew I was wounded, but I was alive. I had no idea for how long. Thoughts of family and things that had gone well comforted me. Thoughts of things that did not and left undone, saddened me. I finally just put my trust in the Good Lord and said if it was my time, take me. If not, let me know what you want done. An overwhelming calm took over and I just relaxed. There was no pain, no sorrow, no troubles....
As I lay there trapped under the roof of the car, I could hear a flurry of activity. Little did I know they were looking for me in the ditches! I could smell the gas and was soaked in it. I managed to put what was left of my shirt over my face and did my best to survive. It was when the firemen that had arrived started spraying foam that things got scary! The foam was coming in and I could not see or breathe! Talk about panic! It was stinging my eyes and I started to as best I could pounding on the roof. I was also shouting a few things in language that I am not real proud of (ok, there are times when jeepers and golly just don't get the point across). I remember reciting the 23rd Psalm and I started to sing a song I had learned. "He Touched Me". What solace that brought!
I heard someone shout for everyone to be quiet and all engines and talk ceased. Someone shouted, "Is anyone there?" "Hell Yeah!", was my reply. We talked for several minutes and I remember asking about the waitress riding with me. I was told she was fine and not to worry. They tried to rock the car off of me, but it was too painful for me as the car would roll across my chest. So it was decided they would have to lift if off.
I don't know how they did it, but the police and firemen managed to lift that vehicle and move it off of me, but they did! Imagine their surprise when I stood up! I was immediately taken to the ground by a nurse and told to just lay down. I had no idea how bad I looked. I must have been a sight covered with the only remnants of my shirt, soaked with blood and gasoline. I could see my shoulder blades and when I put my hand to the right side of my face, what was left of my ear came off in my hand.
.I again asked about the waitress. I was told she was fine and safely home in bed. In bed? Wait a minute, no way! I immediately tried to get up. There was a nurse who happened to be behind me when the accident happened and stopped to help sitting on my back to keep me still and she went flying. I did my best to convince these folks that she was not fine and somewhere. It took nearly 10 minutes to convince them and they went looking. She was found within a few minutes and thank goodness, she had been thrown into the back seat where she was pinned between the seats and the back hatch of the car. She suffered a few scratches and bruises.
They took me by ambulance to the hospital where I was examined. I had suffered some pretty hefty head injuries so they would not give me any pain medication or let me sleep for fear I would not wake up. I had broken both shoulders, broken my elbow and had a concussion. On the ride, I was giving the EMT's all the information I could - phone numbers, addresses, etc. as I had no idea how long I was going to be awake (or alive).
At 11 that morning, I was finally wheeled into surgery for what was to be the first of many over the next 11 years. They did their best and later that afternoon, I was taken back to my room after waking up in recovery.
Imagine my surprise as I was headed back to my room that the halls were lined with people. They told me that about 2 hundred had showed up at the hospital when word got out that I was injured. There were people in and out for 4 days when they sent me home so I could get rest (actually, I think that my being there was such a disruption!). Phones were always busy and there were always folks in and out as there was little or no security. It was heartwarming and without their help and support, I probably would not be here.
I have many funny stories and wonderful memories of both my "mishaps". Maybe one day I will sit down and write about it. When folks ask how I got through it all, I don't really know what to say. I guess it was a sense of humor and the help and understanding of those around me. Most of all, my spirituality. Thank the Good Lord for all of His help!
There is no way to thank the countless numbers of friends, family and even strangers who over the years of recovery had a kind or encouraging word when I needed it. THANKS!