From the archives: Fredman bruised and battered, peeled and scraped

July 1, 2022

I survived a rollover accident July 5, 1999. A day later, I wrote the following column with purple fingertips, embedded glass fragments, bone bruises, scratches and an ugly bear claw injury on my right flank. I was telling runners Karen Eller and Jack Noel about the accident at the Jungle Jim’s 5K last weekend like it was a comedy. They both looked at me and jointly said, “We don’t see anything funny about it.” This is the original version. The updated ones got funnier; I guess it’s a coping mechanism. 

Glad to be anywhere - I am lucky and grateful to be alive after an early morning collision south of Odessa July 5 at 1 a.m. that sent my Forerunner sliding down the road on the passenger’s side, flipped to the driver's side and then come back upright.

My Philly friend, Joe McCann, was sober and driving when a young girl, who was lost, drove through a red light and sent Joe and me off for the ride of our lives. Joe was buckled in, but I was not! I felt the hit on the driver's side of the car and instinctively grabbed the plastic hand strap above the door on my side. Then we went over.

The noise inside the Forerunner was deafening and glass was shattering everywhere.

I was relaxed like a cowboy riding a Brahma bull. I felt sharp pain, but the action was too fast for reflection.

Suddenly, we were not moving and somehow the car ended back in an upright position. I looked at the door latch, kicked the door open, ran to the grass and slid head-first to safety. I rolled up on my left side because my right side was burning.

Joe, a friend since high school, is the toughest 55-year-old God ever created. We were looking at each other. Joe was bloody, but his head looked OK. Joe was angry and talking a mile a minute. I sank into a depressed relaxation.

"Talk to me David. Keep talking to me! Don't you leave me! Keep talking!"

I responded, "Joe, shut up! I ain't one to lie around the roadside after getting hurt."

But I literally did not move a muscle or hear a thing. Two paramedics strapped me to a backboard and did that neck collar thing and oxygen mask. I heard one of them say. "Be careful, he's a big one!”

Inside the ambulance I tried to relax, but my keen sense of surroundings processed every word. “Heart rate is speeding up!”

I thought, take deep breaths and relax.

"Do you know what day it is?" they asked.

The day I could not do, but I did manage July 4.

"Actually it's the fifth, but that's close enough," they said. Next I was in an emergency room cubicle and being looked over by a doctor and two nurses.

"Looks like his left leg may be broken," the nurse said. "Maybe just a hematoma," the doctor said.

They pulled back the sheet to look at my left side. My clothes had been cut away inside the ambulance. The two nurses both responded, "ahh gross!" Then the three of them talked about what my side looked like until I told them to shut up about it.

"Does this hurt?" the doctor asked, pressing on my swollen leg. He repeated the process in several places and I just stared at him and kept saying, "No!"

"Some of this has got to hurt," the doctor said.

"I don't care what hurts," I said. "I am alive and that sure feels good!"

I went to x-ray for the leg and the results were negative. Then I waited for my CAT scan to make sure none of my internal organs were damaged. I called Susan to give her the news. It was 4 a.m. "You're a nice husband to want to make this phone call," the nurse said. I gave the news calmly, but then I was overcome by emotion and started to cry. "I'm OK - just glad to be alive. Please don't worry about me.”

I asked for a pillow because I could not get comfortable. In fact, I could barely move. After the CAT scan I was wheeled into a recovery room and given morphine.

"Where's my pillow?" I asked the technician. "I'Il go back and get it," she said. "We don't usually get emergency cases with pillows.” "Well, it's about time you started," I said.

The paramedics and state cops at the scene were just great. I could instinctively tell that they like stories with happy endings and took a genuine interest in my well-being.

Sometime in the middle of the hospital confusion a state cop came and went over the accident report with me.

"How's my friend Joe?" I asked. "There's nothing wrong with his head," the officer said.

"Is he barking at everybody?" I asked. The cop just smiled.

I talked the doctor into releasing me the next morning so I could go home and lay under my own ceiling fan.

"I have no trouble recommending you stay here a couple of days," he said. "I know you took more of a beating than you're willing to admit.”

"Do you know what rhymes with admit?" I asked. "Go on now, git!"

Insurance will pay for my lost wages, so I didn't need to write this column. But I figure God wanted the reporter Fredman inside that Forerunner experiencing first-hand what it feels like to have lost control of one's life - to be placed in the hands of destiny and to know that life can end in an instant!

I already knew that, but not like I know it now. Please be careful and wear a seat belt.


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