We were travelling east in the United States on our last leg of the tour before driving in to Toronto. We were on a freeway that would lead in to New York. A wide highway, four lanes.
There was a load bang, I looked up to see a sign saying something about New York smash in to the windshield, which shattered. The bus driver jumped from the driver”s seat and steered the bus from a standing position. The bus swerved to the right and went down into one of those deep ditches that are on either side of the freeway.
From the wndow to my right I saw the ditch approaching until we hit the side of the ditch. The forward momentum continued with the bus sliding along the ditch on an its side.
We finally came to a halt.
The reaction from the passengers was mixed. Some screamed, a few passed out.
The driver asked the usual studid question, “is everyone okay?”
The front door was completely blocked by the ditch, so the rear emergency door was the only way out.
After what seemed an eternity, the back door was opened, and we could start our exit. One problem, the bus was unstable in its final position, it could have tipped back the other way.
The exit began carefully, one at a time, the driver being last out.
A blowout on the front right tire had been the cause of the accident.
As we stood there in disbelief, we became aware of how devastating the accident could have been. We were not far from a ravine. If we had slid a bit further, we would have gone into that ravine and that would have been the end of half of the National Ballet.
A few stunned moments and then the remarks began, “my purse, my bag, my musical instrument,” for we toured with musicians.
David volunteered to go back in to the bus and retrieve the belongings.
As I walked through the bus, it was tilting to the left and felt like to was going to roll over. Slowly and carefully all the valuables were removed.
It was quite a sight, a group of people who realized that they came very close to a sticky end, and the second bus who told us that it looked like we had exploded.
There was no possibilty of getting the luggage out of the bus, so we all climbed into the other bus and continued to the next town, siting on laps and the floor.
No memory of time or the next town, for we were all stunned.
We did know that another bus would have to be called for, so we would have to wait.
By the time the other bus arived, the accident bus had been towed to our location. It was a mess. The suspension was completely shot, the right side of the bus was torn apart, but we had our luggage.
Finally another bus, and we continued our journey to Toronto.
For the rest of the journey, and as a matter of fact, the next bus tour, each time the driver put on the brakes, those who had been in that accident, grasped the back of the seat in front of them. We were nervous.
There were times when we performed in one city, but stayed in another city. On one such occasion, we were returning to our Hotel city.
The bus came to a sudden stop. There was a man standing in the middle of the road, waving his arms. The driver opened the door and asked what the problem was. “there has been an accident!”
Lawrence and David got out of the bus to see what was going on. A car had smashed into one of those large posts on the side of the highway. The car was a mess. But the driver? where is he. Our bus stopper pointed to a tree beside the road. We could not see properly, so the spotlight on the drivers side was turned on.
We saw a body up in the fork of a tree, face down. The man had been thrown from the car and up about ten feet into the tree.
Lawrence and David began climbing the tree. Half way up, Lawrence paused and said “what if he’s dead?”
“Just keep going” said David.
We reached him and smelled the reason for the accident, he stank of alcohol. With much heaving a puffing, we managed to get him off the fork in the tree, and lowered down to the ground.
From being a deserted highway it had turned in to a parking lot. We had an audience.
There was not time to see him taken to a hospital, we left that in the hands of the onlookers.
I wonder what happened to him? We do know that he was so drunk that he felt no pain. Perhaps he was lucky?