IT HAPPENED TO ME: When I was 9 Years Old, I Got Hit By a Car That Just Kept Going

I was never able to thank the man who took me home after I was hit by a car and abandoned on the side of the road.
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Vivian Maguire
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I was never able to thank the man who took me home after I was hit by a car and abandoned on the side of the road.
Vivian Maguire

In the classroom where I teach. 

When I was nine years old, I was the victim of a hit and run. I had been playing with a group of girls at a friend's house when she suggested that we ride our bikes. I didn't have mine, so she loaned me her older brother's. I remember that the bike was too large for me to ride properly; my feet didn't touch the ground once I was on the seat. I could barely make the pedals move with the tips of my shoes, but once I was moving, I could keep up with my friends.

We rode out to the sidewalk, and I pushed hard with my toes to stay with the group. They crossed the street, and I followed. It was once I was on the street that I saw a white car, coming towards me, fast. There were no brakes on the handle bars, though, I wouldn't have thought to use them anyway as my own bicycle didn't have them. I instinctively put my legs down to stop myself, as it occurred to me simultaneously that my legs were not going to reach the pavement. I coasted onto the street, and the car slammed into me. 

My only fortune in that moment was that the bike was so large that the car hit that only, causing me to roll over its hood, before I hit the ground. The car ran over the bicycle, and sped down the street, it's tires keening.

I was too stunned to cry. I stood up tremblingly and put my hand to the side of head. When I pulled it away, I saw it was covered in blood. This startled me as I thought I had landed on my side. It was then that I cried, as my vision became skewed with dark speckles. My knees gave, and I was ready to fall again. But, before I could, I felt someone's hands grasp me just under my arms, and before I knew it, I was being pulled into a strange man's blue car.

He must have heard the accident from his house, or perhaps he saw it. I will never know. I only know he was there to stop me from hitting the ground again, and hurting myself further. When he buckled me in, I realized that my friends were nowhere in sight and I was all alone. Only he was with me.

The road where I was hit.

The road where I was hit.

I can't remember if I knew my address or not, but I recall giving him instructions—telling him to turn here or to cross there, in-between my soft sobs and bleeding all over his car seat. We found my house. He helped me to the front door and rang the door bell; my mother answered. She ushered me into a chair as the man detailed for her what he had seen. He left, and my mom drove me to the hospital. I would never see him again.

I spent the night under close observation after a brain scan and a series of other tests. I was diagnosed with a severe concussion. Between the bouts of vomiting, the chills caused by trauma and from the various cold fluids from my IV, I was also kept awake that entire night by nurses who were doing hourly checks on me in my hospital room.  

The following morning, I was starving, but it took several requests from me and my mother for me to finally be served some jello; the nurses were reluctant to break my fast. They brought me the green kind, my least favorite. I distinctly remember prodding it with a fork and thinking that I knew exactly how it felt—I didn't feel solid either.

Many times since that night, I have thought about my accident. I have spent so much time wondering how anyone could hit a child with their car and just keep going. I even thought at one point that I might write an essay to them, perhaps to describe just how callous, how inhuman their actions were. But, I just can't. I won't waste my words on them; they are below my notice. They are below anyone's notice.

Instead, I want to thank the man who came to my aid, when there was no one else to help me. I think some people might dismiss what you did, as something that any decent human being would do. They would be forgetting of course, that moments before you arrived, a person had just hit me with his or her car and then left me—possibly to die.

Anyone who might minimize your actions, should know that my "friends" also left, and then stopped speaking to me afterward. Their parents warned them to steer clear of me after the accident because my father was a lawyer, and they were afraid that he would press charges.

I think some people might even go so far as to criticize you for driving me home, instead of calling an ambulance. To them, I would say that unlike the driver that was possibly afraid of being arrested, or like my so-called friends whose parents were afraid of being sued, you were thinking only of how to help the small child that had just been thrown by a car. I was so vulnerable at that moment, that anyone could have taken me, but luckily for me, you were there to catch me before I could fall.

Because of you I got safely home, I got better, I grew up, I finished school, I got married, and I had children. Because of you, I hold their hands extra tight when we cross the street, and they never ride their bikes without a helmet. 

 It's true, I won't always be able to follow them everywhere they go. But, I sincerely hope that if they are ever hurt, there will be someone like you nearby that will think of nothing but how to bring them safely home.