Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Today is the anniversary of a formative event in my life. I recently found the archived copy of the Los Angeles Times front page that head-lined the event though a number of details were not yet known at the time of publication. I was later told by LAPD and LAFD members who had been on the scene that traffic was backed up from Woodland Hills to downtown Los Angeles. Hospital personnel told me that the woman driving the car which had been going the wrong way on the freeway had a blood alcohol level so elevated that she should not have been able to crawl much less drive a car. I had not been expected to live through the evening. The accident occurred on Good Friday.
Reading the Times article, I was reminded that a third car and driver had been involved. I began to wonder how he had survived and what effect the accident had had on his life. I determined to find out but a quick Internet search revealed he had passed away in 2009 from lung cancer. I found a phone number and decided to see if I could speak to his wife. I almost didn't make the call as I didn't want to bother her or bring back painful memories. I did make the call, however, and was able to speak to her. I am very glad I did. She is a delightful woman, now in her eighties, and she was very pleased to hear from me. When I introduced myself by saying I had been involved in an accident on the Ventura Freeway many years ago, her first words were, "Were you the young boy in the Cadillac?"
Allen G. Piersol survived with only a hand injury that quickly healed. He refused an insurance settlement and was well-known and respected as an engineering consultant in the field of mechanical shock, vibration, and aeroacoustics. His wife Teresia told me that he had gone to the store that evening but hours went by without his return. Finally, the doorbell rang and she opened her door to find two policemen who had escorted her husband home. He was pale and shaken. "Our lives were never the same after that," she told me. ""We gave thanks for every day that we had together from that evening on."
I was enjoying Teresia's sense of humor and philosophy on life and, at one point in our conversation, she remarked that. "You have a very calm voice. Are you happy or are you taking Valium?" I assured her I was not taking any medication and that life had dealt me some very good cards along with the bad.
We were only on the phone for about thirty minutes but I don't think I will ever forget her.