In Reno, Nevada, during the first week of August, we have an event called Hot August Nights. It is a week long event where many places showcase old cars. There are parades, car shows, auctions and so many parties that go along with it. The cars are beautiful. the sun is shining and it brings so many people to town. It is also my birthday week which means it is extra special.
Back in 2002, I was just about to start my sophomore year of college. April, one of my best friends, and I were moving into an apartment together in Reno and were all set for the school year to come. But first, we were finishing out our first summer after our freshman year of college. We had just celebrated my birthday earlier in the week and my friends wanted to go to Hot August Nights in Reno. I was living at home during the summer since I had just moved out of my college dorm room and was waiting for my lease to start. April lived in Carson as well.
She and her boyfriend wanted to go to Hot August Nights and her boyfriend was going to drive us. I was going to go, but then decided against it as something told me to just stay home. Stay home and hang out with my mom since I didn't get to do that very often.
April and her boyfriend headed to Reno in his Chevy S10 pickup (small truck). While driving to Reno, a bigger work truck tried to turn from the highway to a small side street. He thought he could make it before traffic caught up to him, but he was wrong. He t-boned April boyfriends truck. The work truck rolled, but the driver had minor injuries because he was drunk. There was open beer cans in his truck at the time of the accident.
The S10 took a beating so to speak. The driver's side was the side that was struck. April's boyfriend sustained minor-ish injuries. The steering wheel dropped on his legs and the airbag deployed. He had to use his elbow to break the window since he could not get his door open. He sustained cuts and bruises through that. April was far worse. While her airbag deployed, her seat belt failed. She sustained injuries from the seat belt crushing her body (the seat belt left a bruise across her body). She also hit her face on the dashboard which shattered it. She also had cuts and bruises all over her body.
I got a phone call that night from April's dad telling me what had happened and when I could come up to the hospital. April's injuries were so bad that she was in the ICU for over 2 weeks. Then she was in the general care area for another week. She had a tracheotomy (tube in her throat), her mouth was wired shut from breaking her jaw, she had reconstructive surgery on her cheekbones, nose and forehead. She has had several plastic surgeries to reconstruct her face. And the first time I saw her in the hospital (hours after it happened), I was devastated. She could not talk for weeks and could only write on a notepad for everything. I visited her everyday that she was in the hospital. I was on the family list and brought her movies, books and just kept her company.
I was lucky to not be in that car. I would have been in the backseat of his S10. The backseat is tiny. A woman can barely fit back there. If I had been back there, I would have broken my legs, hit the backseat and who knows what other injuries my body would have sustained. The police told me I would have been badly hurt. Probably not as bad as April, but bad. And it would have derailed my college career as well. It derailed April's life. We did not move in together as the school year started as she was in the hospital. We were able to get out of lease without penalty and I lived at home until I found a house to live at near campus. But that is besides the point.
April is doing amazing today. She has healed from all her wounds and while the day still haunts her, she has lived her life to the fullest. I admire that about her. She had to live through it for a long time during court proceedings and living with a new face. But she is gorgeous and her plastic surgeon is the best.
I feel extremely lucky to not have been in that truck that day. I don't know what told me not to go, but something did. I just wish April had not gone.
But I learned a lot from the situation and so thankful that the drunk driver did not kill my best friend.
April is on the far right
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