Help From On High
looked over at Mike, who had fallen silent as he concentrated on the road, both hands gripping the steering wheel.
As the Newmans swept past the exit for Windsor, Vt., Sue peered through the deluge at the overpass ahead; she could just make out a tow truck parked above the northbound lanes. "At the time," she recalls, "I wondered why it was sitting there, thinking maybe the driver was also playing it smart, choosing to wait out the squall." But looking back on the day now, she realizes that while much went "horribly wrong, . . . many of the elements to help us were already in place." The tow truck, as it happens, was one of those elements.
Before Sue had time for another thought, the blue pickup hit a surge of water flowing across the road; it grabbed at the tires and threw the truck off balance. Mike fought to regain control of the vehicle, but the back of the Colorado was already whipping around. "It was like a loud zipping noise," he recalls. The truck slid and smashed into the metal guardrail, ripping 12 feet of it out of the ground.
Then the truck pitched sideways and rolled. And rolled. Grass, mud, and rain tore through the cab. Sounds of crunching metal and shattering glass echoed in Sue's ears. The truck slammed repeatedly into the muddy earth before finally settling, driver's side down, in a ravine. "It seemed like it took forever for us to stop," Sue recalls. She was hanging sideways fromher seatbelt, her upper torso wedged behind Mike's seat. Suddenly she realized that her husband was no longer beside her.
"Before I had a chance to panic," she says, "I heard Mike groaning." Sue had no idea where he was, but knowing that he was alive—and that she wasn't seriously hurt—helped her stay calm.
An instant later, Sue saw a woman's face peering into her window. Karen Jacobi—a
Karen Jacobi—a part-time
and an ambulance driver
for the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advanced
Response Team (DHART)—identified herself to
Newman as an EMT.
part-time Hanover firefighter and an ambulance driver for the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advanced Response Team (DHART)—identified herself as an EMT. She, like the tow truck, was another of the day's fortuitous elements.
Jacobi had been on her way home to Hanover from Claremont, N.H., when she saw the accident unfold in front of her. "I had slowed down with most of the traffic," she says. "The next thing I saw was a truck suddenly veering backward off the road going airborne. I pulled over as quickly as I could."
Dressed just in casual slacks and flip-
flops, Jacobi slid down the muddy slope to the bottom of the ravine. She was relieved, as she peered in at Sue, to see that at least one of the truck's occupants was alert and able to say that she was okay. "At that moment, I heard a groan and looked down at a man pinned under the truck," Jacobi recalls. "He told me he was having trouble breathing, and seeing the wheel pressed against his chest, I immediately started digging out the mud underneath his back." Her efforts brought a little relief for Mike.
"Though I was the first person [on the scene]," Jacobi says later, "I was quickly joined by two other EMTs who also happened to be on the interstate—ironically, people I'd known and worked with in the past. When Windsor ambulance arrived and started working on the man, I placed a blanket on him so he wouldn't go into shock and stayed by his side, holding his hand. I wanted him to know someone was there just for him," she explains.