Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Ultra Vivid Scene.

My alarm woke me at six thirty yesterday morning. A group of us from work were to visit the Sanger Institute just outside Cambridge. They'd come up to visit us earlier in the year and I had presented to them on that day and so had been invited onto the return leg. I was looking forward to it.

Do you ever have songs jump into your head not long after you've woken up? I do. As I showered and shaved I listened to 'Lust for Life - Iggy Pop' and 'Teenage Dirtbag - Wheatus'. The latter made me smile out loud as it describes every teenagers perfect switch-around.

I had a works car at home and set off at seven thirty, southbound on the M6.

Although there are works currently underway at the Catthorpe Interchange they are not part of the junction saftey improvement scheme. The government identified the safety improvements as a 'future scheme' in last October's spending review and these were postponed until some time after 2015.

I entered the average speed camera stretch slowing to fifty miles an hour. I moved into lane one as I was taking the A14. All three columns of traffic were moving at roughly the same speed.

I could see the traffic ahead of me slowing down and so braked gently. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a truck bearing down on me with a significant closing speed.

I remember saying out loud, "He's not going to stop".  The next five seconds are a fractured memory.

There were more trucks in front of me and so once my brain had worked out that a collision was imminent it became about not going under one of them.

I veered towards the hard shoulder to try and get out of the trucks path but it hit the rear of my car shattering the back window instantly.

I remember the force of the shunt, catapulting me off the road towards the verge. I remember branches lashing the windscreen and trying to steer the car out into the open. I remember hearing tearing noises from the underside of the car. I remember thinking "How is this going to end?". I remember the shuddering deafening impact with the trees, airbags deploying, expolding, filling the cabin with dust and smoke, body, arms and head lurching forwards with the deceleration.

The engine had died and in the muffled silence I sat still for a minute or two, the endless roar of rubber on tarmac in the background. My blood pressure felt low from the shock. Adrenalin continued to pump into my blood and after realising I was still in one piece I stepped out of the car and spoke to a witness who had pulled over.


Today my body feels like lead. My neck and shoulders are sore, my forearms are tight.

The grass however is greener than it was yesterday, and the sky is more blue. The hugs from my children last night were savoured. I was lucky.

Tread carefully.


  1. Holy shit Keith you are very very lucky to be around to talk about this. Your instincts and instant avoidance maneouvre probably saved your life. I've only been in one car crash in my life and never ever want another.

    I'd still get in a car with you though, anyday.

  2. Bloody hell! It's a good job you had the presence of mind to attempt some evasive action. Some people just freeze up in those circumstances and I dread to think where you might be now if you'd done that.

    I hope you start to move a bit more freely soon and that it doesn't keep you off your fishing too much. You have enough challenge points to take a decent rest though!

    All the best.

  3. Jesus h Christ Keith, that's one lucky escape! Hope your feeling ok. Carpe diem eh!

  4. A very lucky escape,a close friend of mine a few years ago was not so lucky,as Jeff rightly says, your fast reactions most likely saved you from what could have been a fatal outcome,a very nerve wracking and frightening experience.Get well soon.

  5. Bloody hell Keith. Only just caught up with your post. Glad you're OK. I used to travel the A14 regularly a few years ago and thought it the worst stretch of road in the whole country. Your remarks about seeing the big lorries coming up in the mirror rings so true. Particularly whith the speed cameras and then the Average Speed restrictions.
    They all seemed to be racing to catch the next ferry out of Harwich or racing up having just landed!