NO SECOND CHANCE
Where: Lynnwood (United States). When: on 19-10-1994.
Written at 19-07-2011 by Jenny McGaughey
Labels - Young Teen Death
I quickly finished drying my hair and put the finishing touches on my makeup and raced down the stairs. I had a few more minutes left that I could grab a quick piece of toast and a swallow of orange juice before I headed out the door to go to school. As I headed down the stairs I stopped when I saw my father standing at the bottom of the stairs. He was putting his coat on getting ready to go out the door to leave for work. He looked up at me and I looked at him with a bit of uneasiness. Neither of us said a word to each other. We were both feeling the after effects of an argument that had taken place between us the night before. One of the many things we had argued consecutively about was the fact that he noticed that I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt when I pulled into the driveway yesterday afternoon. I didn’t really blame him because when he and my mother had bought the car for me he lectured me for two straight hours about the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt. If I was caught without wearing it, he would take the car away, and I would not be allowed to drive it again until further notice from him.
My father was fire chief of his station, he had seen a lot of car accidents involving teenagers who were drinking and driving, driving recklessly, and not wearing their seatbelts. Day in and day out I had to sit through horror stories from the time I was twelve years old up to the present time about car accidents involving teenagers his station had responded to.
I was extremely tired when I got home from work last night, so when he brought the seatbelt issue up and started in on me, I wasn’t in the mood to hear his speech and it caused an argument. Now this morning I’m standing here looking at him straight in the face not knowing what to say to him. I knew I was in the wrong but I didn’t want to admit it to him. I decided to break the silence as we both stood there looking at one another still feeling angry towards each other. “Morning dad.” I casually said, as I tried to slide past him and make a mad dash around the corner for the kitchen, in the hopes that he would not mention anything about taking my car away from me.
I was surprised when he answered me back and said “Good morning.”
I cracked a smile hoping that he had forgot about the whole thing.
“We need to sit down and talk when you get home from work tonight.” He said zipping up his coat.
I smiled and pretended like I had forgotten everything, then casually said back to him. “Okay.”
He opened the door to leave and a rush of relief came over me, he stopped in the doorway and turned around and looked at me and said, “drive carefully today, and wear your seatbelt.”
“I will.” I answered back, “have a good day.” I said as the door slammed shut behind him.
“YES!” I said aloud. I smiled and thought to myself, “he did not say anything to me about taking my car away.” “Okay, okay, I got lucky this time and this will not happen again, from now on, I will wear my seatbelt and obey what he asks.”
I made sure that I buckled up when I got into my car that morning when I drove off to school, I was happy, it was going to be a great day.
I pulled into the parking lot of my high school and grabbed my usual parking place, all my friends were hanging out by their cars before the first bell rang. My best friend Sara spotted me from across the parking lot and came running over to me. I grabbed my books and got out of the car. “What’s up?” I asked.
“Party today over at Rob’s house after school, want to go?” She asked.
Sara and I had been best friends since grade school. We’d been through everything together. We were inseparable, I loved her like a sister.
“What time is the party?” I asked.
“Right after classes today, it’s half a day today and his parents are out of town, he’s having everybody over for a little bash this afternoon.” Sara answered.
“Count me in, I always love a good party.” I said.
We headed into the building and towards our locker.
“Can I get a ride with you?” She asked.
“No, I’m going to make you walk! Of course you can get a ride with me.” I kidded.
I reached into my locker and grabbed my history book.
“Shane needs a ride too. Can he ride with us?” Sara asked.
“No problem,” I said.
Shane was another one of my good friends that I had known since grade school, he was a part of our little click also.
“Meet me at my car after 4th period.” I said.
It was only a half a day of school, but for some reason it seemed like it took forever for it to end. As soon as the noon bell rang I ran for my locker to ditch my books.
I made a dash for the front door and to my car. It was pouring down rain and dark out.
When I got there Sara and Shane were already waiting at my car dancing around getting soaking wet.
“Hurry!” Sara yelled laughing.
I fumbled for my car keys and by the time we got into the car we were all soaking wet. I started up the car, pushed a CD into the player and pulled out of my parking space. “Let’s party!” I yelled.
The rain beat down on my windshield, even with the windshield wipers going at full speed I could barely see out. I reached for a towel that sat on the floor and attempted to dry off my head, it was soaked and I looked like a wet mop. I glanced down and noticed that I had forgotten to put my seatbelt on. I glanced at Sara and Shane and they both were not buckled up either.
“Oh well,” I thought, “we’re almost to Rob’s house anyway, and it will be okay.” My cell phone interrupted my train of thought. I answered it as I pulled up to a red stop light. It was my boyfriend Greg. He wanted to meet me at my parent’s house and visit me that afternoon before I went off to work. I had a quick conversation with him, then hung up the phone.
When we got to the party at Rob’s house the gang was all there. The music was blaring loudly and everybody was hanging out in the living room. Rob saw me come in the door and immediately ran up to me and gave me a huge hug. Before I could say anything he reached behind his back and handed me an ice-cold beer.
Without even a second thought I popped the top off and took a huge gulp. The beer tasted so good and I had one thing on my mind at the time, and that was to party with my friends. I sat and sipped my beer and thought to myself, “I can handle one beer, it’s no big deal, my dad will never find out what I’m doing, what he doesn’t know isn’t going to hurt him. I’ll just finish this one, and I won’t have any more. I’ll be fine.”
The afternoon flew by fast, before I knew it I was in Rob’s kitchen reaching into the refrigerator for what was my third beer. I happened to glance down at my watch and completely freaked out at the time. I was supposed to have been home 10 minutes ago to meet my boyfriend Greg, and he was probably sitting there waiting for me. I quickly pulled the top off of the beer and chugged it down quickly almost emptying the whole can. I shuffled through the crowd of people looking for my friend Sara to tell her that I had to leave right that second because I needed to get right home and Greg was waiting for me.
Sara and Shane were both sitting in another room drinking beer and hanging out with a few people. The music was blasting so loud, I yelled to the two of them that I had to leave right that instant and I was late meeting Greg. They both agreed it was time to leave, and I was going to quickly drop them off at Shane’s house before heading home.
Three of our other friends followed us out the door at the same time we left, they happened to be parked in back of me. Without thinking about how much beer I had consumed, and that I should not have even attempted to drive my car, I started up the car and pulled away. All three of us in the car not wearing our seatbelts once again. The rain had not let up a bit. I glanced in my rear view mirror and noticed that my friends were following directly behind me in their car. I could barely see two feet in front of my car as the rain blasted down on my windshield. I cranked the tunes in the car as we proceeded to drive to Shane’s house. I turned the music down to say something to Sara, and the friends that were in the car behind us were honking their horn at me in an attempt to get my attention. I took my eyes off the road and looked into my rear view mirror. I could see that they were laughing and screaming and sticking their heads out the window of the car. I played along with their little game and laughed as I tried to keep focusing on the road ahead of me. All of a sudden they surged forward and pulled up right next to me in the oncoming lane of traffic. For a moment it scared me, but I played along with it and there seemed to be no oncoming traffic on the road at the time. I laughed and slammed on my brakes while they surged forward and pulled back into our lane of traffic directly ahead of me. Now I was behind them and the game of car tag and cat and mouse was on. I laid on my horn and we all rolled down our windows and were screaming out the windows at them. They braked suddenly and this time I pulled into the oncoming lane of traffic right next to them. The next minute of my life went into a complete slow motion mode as if someone had punched a slow motion button on a remote control while watching a movie on a VCR or DVD player.
I looked over at them laughing as the two cars were side by side. I took my eyes completely off of the road in front of me. I failed to notice and the friends in the car next to me failed to notice that there was a car heading right for me head on in the on-coming lane of traffic that we were still in. I looked back at the road in front of me, and my laughter turned into a scream of terror and I could hear Sara and Shane screaming as well. Right at that split second there were two choices, I either had to hit the car head on, or swerve clear over to the left hand side of the road and hope and pray that we would make it safely and land on the shoulder of the road and wouldn’t go over the steep hillside that was there. I quickly swerved over to the left shoulder of the road and slammed on my brakes and just barely missed hitting the car head on. Gravel and mud and water flew all over the place, I could smell the smoke from the tires.
My car had landed on the shoulder and had come to a stop just inches from the hillside. It was all over and it appeared that we had made it, we were safe. I was terrified and I looked over at my friend Sara. Suddenly the soft dirt and mud gave way from the rain, my car tilted sideways, and began rolling down the steep slope. I could hear all three of us screaming in terror as our bodies were flying around in the car as the car turned over and over like an amusement park ride spinning out of complete control. Since the windows were open Sara and Shane were thrown out of the car. I remained trapped inside the car while it continued to roll down the hill. It seemed like it took forever for the car to come to a complete stop.
It finally came to rest, on its side in a creek at the bottom of the hill, I tried to get out but something had me pinned in on the driver’s side of the car. I lie there in complete shock and terror, my head hurt badly. My body hurt so badly I could barely feel the water from the ice-cold creek pouring into my car and running over my body. I let out a blood-curdling scream from shock and fright. I tried desperately to move, it was getting harder to breath, there seemed to be no air circulating at all. I saw a hand reach in through my open window and grab onto my hand and try to pull me out. Then I heard my friend Sara’s voice she was crying and shaking, “Are you okay?” She asked. “Hang on, Shane’s trying to climb back up to the road and get some help.”
I barely got the words out as I struggled to catch another breath, “I, I can’t feel anything, I can’t breathe,” I told her.
“Just hang onto my hand and don’t let go,” she pleaded and wept loudly. “Help is on the way.”
It had only been a few minutes but seemed like hours that I lie there feeling virtually nothing and gasping for breath. Sara hung onto my hand and I could hear her praying aloud she asked me to say the “Our Father” prayer” with her. The last thing I remember her saying was, “pray with me, please pray with me, say the “Our Father with me.” I barely got two words out of my mouth, my ears started ringing so bad I could no longer hear Sara’s voice. A quick thought went through my head, “my dad is going to be so pissed off at me, I’m in so much trouble.”
The darkness lifted and I woke up, my pain was completely gone and I felt as good as new. I was laying on some kind of board, I sat up and thought to myself “wow, I made it out of this and I’m okay.” I quickly stood to my feet and looked at the wreckage of the car. It was a complete mess, it was destroyed and covered in thick mud. There was broken glass and debris from the car lying all over. A large crowd of people were gathered around my car and the whole accident scene.
None of them seemed to notice or pay any attention at all that I was standing in the middle of it all. I glanced over and saw my two friends Sara and Shane standing there together with blankets across their shoulders and deep cuts on their faces weeping loudly and shaking. Sara was holding her arm. A paramedic came over to her and was bandaging up her arm.
There were police, paramedics and firefighters all over the accident scene. Many of them I recognized from my father’s fire station, they were his friends. I glanced past them and saw more firefighters standing around in a circle, they seemed to be talking and surrounding somebody in the middle of their small circle. They quickly disbursed, and one firefighter had his back turned to me, he stood there motionless just staring at the car and the whole accident scene. He turned around and I stared right into the face of my father. He did not look like himself, he was pale white, shaking profusely, and was weeping silently. I had completely forgotten that he was working that day at the station. He had been called to my accident.
I looked up at the top of the hill and the road where my car had rolled off and there was a huge crowd of people gathered looking down at the whole accident scene. The bright lights from the emergency vehicles flashing in the darkness of the day and the rain. “Why is everybody staring down here?” I thought to myself, “it’s just a small accident I’m fine, I wish they would just go away.” I looked again back over at my father who was now leaning over and had his head in his hands and was weeping loudly. I slowly walked over to him to let him know that I was okay. I put my arm around him while he wept. I spoke to him softly and tried to tell him I was sorry. “Dad?” “It’s okay, I’m okay.” He wouldn’t even look at me, and then I knew that he was very angry with me. I spoke to him again, “Dad?” “Dad, please let me explain, I know that you’re mad at me, I just want to say that I’m sorry.”
I was hoping that he would turn to me and give me a big hug but he still would not answer me back or look at me.
I pleaded with him, “I’m so sorry, I promise that I will never do it again or put you and mom through anything ever again.” He turned and walked away from me. I thought he was leaving the scene and was heading back up the hill to go to his car. He met two more of his firefighter friends that had made their way down to the bottom of the hill. I looked over again, and the two firefighters had my mother with them. My father ran over to my mother and they embraced, I could hear both of them sobbing. I couldn’t take it, and I looked away angry with myself for putting them through all of this.
I looked across the creek back over at my two best friends Sara and Shane, they were both standing there crying and hugging one another.
Then I saw my other friends that I had been playing car tag with. A police officer was talking to them taking down a report of the accident.
My focus fell immediately back on my mom and my dad. I stood and watched as a firefighter took them over to a little clearing past the car debris that lay on the ground, the area was all taped up so nobody could enter. I moved closer and followed out of curiosity to see what they were going to look at. I heard my mother let out a scream as the firefighter bent down to the ground and pulled a yellow sheet back that was covering something on the ground. I moved in closer to see what it was that was underneath the sheet laying on the board. A cold shiver shot through my body like a bullet, I stared in disbelief and shock as I looked down at my own lifeless body laying on the board.
I screamed at the sight of myself and yelled to the top of my lungs up at the sky hoping somebody would hear me, “NO! I’M STANDING RIGHT HERE! SOMEBODY PLEASE HEAR ME! I screamed once again, this time pleading to God himself that he would hear what I had to say, “GOD? PLEASE HEAR ME! I’M SORRY! PLEASE JUST GIVE ME A SECOND CHANCE AND I PROMISE I’LL NEVER DO THIS AGAIN, I CAN’T BE DEAD! PLEASE GIVE ME MY LIFE BACK! I’M BEGGING YOU!”
I stood there waiting for an answer, waiting for something to happen. Then I could hear nothing at all. I looked down and noticed a strange fog that was starting to surround me. I watched a leaf float gently down from the trees that towered above me, it landed and came to rest on the ground right in front of my feet. I stood there motionless, looking down at it. I felt a strong warm presence standing behind me. I turned around and looked into a familiar face, she smiled sweetly to me then put her arms around me and embraced me. It was my great grandmother that had passed away four years ago. Then another person appeared along side of her. It was my 21-year-old cousin that I had been very close to that had died of cancer recently. I felt an overwhelming joy to see both of them.
My great grandmother grabbed my hand and my cousin grabbed my other hand, the three of us walked away, they led me away from the accident scene. I kept turning my head looking back at the scene, until everything and everyone faded completely out of my sight.
October 23rd, 1996 was a day that I’ll never forget, it was a day that my family and friends will never forget. It was the day that my life ended.
In Memory Of Brie Lynn McGaughey
October 23rd, 1996 was one of the most tragic days of my life. I lost my 17-year-old niece in a car accident. This is a true story. My brother who was fire chief of his fire station at the time was called to his own daughter’s accident. I dedicate this story to my brother and sister-in-law who suffer every day without their daughter.