Last Thursday I travelled up to Barnett House, the ATA headquarters in Edmonton, for a political engagement meeting. The ATA was updating its members on an awareness campaign for public education issues in Alberta before the next provincial election.
The meeting was pretty interesting. It was eye-opening to hear how many school divisions are hoarding millions of budgeted dollars instead of spending it. I couldn’t help notice that a lot of the biggest offenders are from the separate (Catholic) school divisions. I also liked hearing from pollster Janet Brown about how the UCP are not polling well since their new leader was chosen — though most of what she said was in this article by the CBC and I had already read it.
At the end of the day, I found out that my plane was delayed and that I probably wouldn’t be able to catch my connecting flight from Calgary to Lethbridge. It turns out — very long story short, WestJet had some major computer schedule issues and after a not great two hour sleep in a hotel on Friday night I ended up driving a rental car from Edmonton to Calgary so I could catch that connecting flight on Saturday instead of waiting an extra, extra 24 hours.
Because I was driving, I now had some time to kill in Calgary. I called my sister up to see if we could meet while I waited for my flight. As luck would have it, (or as it turns out bad luck) she was bringing her oldest, Ryker, to Olds for a volleyball game. Ryker plays for the college in Lloydminster. We met up and because Ryker’s game wasn’t going to start until much later and he just wanted to hang with his team, we decided to drive to the airport in Calgary to spend some time together there.
The roads were pretty bad when we set out but we hoped with the direction of the wind, it might not be so bad when we were headed south on the highway. It was really bad, even heading south. I had my AirPods in and was chatting with Jackie while watching her taillights disappearing into the white out blizzard conditions. Suddenly she told me there were vehicles all over the highway and that I needed to stop. She told me she couldn’t stop and was going to have to pull into the ditch. She did so and never had any real issues but with the extra time to slow I was able to navigate through the gauntlet of five or six crashed vehicles both on and off the highway.
It was just last week that a cousin of mine actually died in a collision on a snowy highway and so it made this situation all the more tense.
Suddenly I saw a car in my rearview mirror approaching rapidly. I tried to speed up to get out of the way but he was coming way too fast and I told my sister I was about to get hit. I braced for impact and was surprised at just how hard the force compressed my body against the seat. I stopped the car in the ditch and after a moment got out to inspect the damage. I took this footage:
Cars continued to smash for a few minutes. A couple of semi trailers pulled off the road and crashed into the nearby barbed wire fence.
The car was still drivable and the RCMP showed up fairly quickly. They shut down the highway and since we weren’t hurt and the conditions were so cold, the officer asked if we would take some of the people that had crashed their vehicles with us. I ended up taking the very same guy that rear ended me. That was fine but also I felt annoyed that he couldn’t have avoided me and now I had to sit beside him for the drive when what I really wanted to do was call my wife and complain about how I think he had room to drive by me.
As a result of the accident I had neck spasms and a headache, so I went into the hospital to get things checked out. The doctor said it looks most likely that I have, “what they used to call whiplash,” and he added that I might have a concussion as well. His advice was to take some ibuprofen and Tylenol and if I start acting loopy come back to the hospital.
So I took the day off work — I’ve also got a cough and cold going so I wasn’t feeling that well anyway.
The lesson of the weekend is that I won’t be flying WestJet for a quick day trip to Edmonton again, and if I find myself in a huge pileup on icy roads, get as far off the road as fast and far as possible.