Lifetime friends and the crazy stories that go along with it

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Mar 3, 2011
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California's Central Coast Wine Country
I have the tremendous good fortune to remain in regular contact with FIVE friends I met in first grade. We grew up in the same neighborhood, went to all the same schools, etc. Three of us still get together with each other on a regular basis. We first met in 1959. We're talking 63 year friendships. Think about that for a moment.

Anyway, the five of us were group texting this morning. One comment led to another, one subject after another, one car or motorcycle story after another. Which led to me recounting this story. This happened in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California on Hwy 84; half way between the summit on Skyline Blvd. and the coast on Hwy 1.

Sports car country; I had my heavily modified triple carb Austin Healey 3000 BT7, my friend had his Datsun 2000. The year was 1973. It was 2AM in the morning, but let me assure you we were 100% sober. Truth!

-------------

Mike drifted wide on a corner and hit a concrete drainage abutment with his left front, launching his car into the air. I was right behind him and still have a crystal clear image of his disintegrating car airborne 15 feet in the air, upside down and sideways in front of me with glittering bits of debris sparkling in my headlights. I swerved left into the same embankment he hit, trying to avoid hitting him, but not hitting the concrete abutment. It launched my car into the air and I vividly remember seeing the roadway surface through my right side window. I came crashing down, right side up, engine ripped off its mounts and into the radiator, my left front suspension and wheel assembly completely torn off the frame. I ground to a stop 50 or 60 feet down the roadway (Jeff C. was in my car).

Dave was by himself in a third car, far behind us. When Dave came upon the scene Jeff C. got into his car and immediately left to get help. They were gone in 30 seconds. I got out of my car and ran up to MIke’s car. He had no roll bar and his car was resting upside down, completely flat on its hood and trunk. I vividly remember running around Mike’s car in circles with my hands up to my head, screaming and gasping. Both of them were most certainly DEAD! I ran around in circles 3 or 4 times in total panic, not sure what to do. Except for my screams and gasps there was dead silence.

I decided to try and get Mike out. I opened what I thought was his door. I forced it open, grinding it against the pavement. I vividly remember that grinding sound. Bizarrely, the center console light came on. Another vivd memory. I could see I had opened the passenger door instead of Mike’s. Jeff H. was still in his seat, his head smashed forward into the dashboard, blood pouring out of his nose and mouth, gasping and making death sounds. I reached inside and undid his seat belt and dragged him off to the side of the road, propping him upright against the embankment. I vividly remember recoiling at the sight, standing back and looking at him, debating whether I should stay with him for his final moments or try and get Mike out. But he was probably dead already.

And then I heard “SCOTT! SCOTT! GET ME OUT OF HERE!”. Mike was alive! I ran over and opened his door and tried to pull him out, but his left foot had gotten crushed inside the footwell and was trapped behind the brake and clutch pedals. I crawled up inside the car the best I could but there was barely any room to work. I vividly remember fearing the car was going to burst into flames - which to this day the thought I Mike being trapped in his car and burning to death right before my eyes makes me shiver and wince.

I was grabbing and pulling on Mike’s left leg and crushed foot, Mike screaming in pain but knowing it had to be done. No matter how hard I yanked and pulled, no luck. I finally was able to work myself far enough up inside the footwell to get to the brake and clutch pedals. I literally bent them to get them out of the way so his foot was freed. I dragged him out and sat him next to Jeff, Jeff still making horrible noises and surely just minutes from death. Jeff lived but had several broken ribs which had punctured his lungs, as well as several other significant injuries; but he fully recovered.

At any rate, we needed help ASAP, and Dave and the other Jeff were gone. But dumb luck had it that there was a dirt road right at the point of MIke’s initial impact. I ran up there thinking there may be a house. Now consider just for a moment, pounding on the front door of a house out in the middle of nowhere in the blackness of night at 2AM. A person can get shot for that!

No sooner did I hit the door a few times, the door opened and in the blackness someone shoved a phone through it and said, “We heard the crash” (IIRC they never came down to the accident scene). I quickly called 911 and went back to Mike and Jeff. Jeff as still unconscious and making horrible drowning sounds and Mike was in obvious shock but was SKY HIGH with frantic energy. The three of us sat there for 30 or 45 minutes, me trying to calm down Mike and trying to comfort Jeff for what were surely his last breaths.

Dave and Jeff returned after making their 911 call at Alice’s Restaurant. The CHP finally arrived, then an ambulance, and finally a flat bed truck. They loaded Mike and Jeff into the ambulance and drove off. Seeing things were “okay”, Dave and Jeff C. left, which to this day I don’t understand. So there I was alone with multiple CHP officers, asking me a lot questions.

By now they had loaded MIke’s absolutely DEMOLISHED car onto the flat bed. My Healey 3000 sat there all by itself in the darkness, bleeding fluids everywhere. Two hours passed and then a car appeared in the darkness. Another driver passing through perhaps? No. It was my Dad and Mike's Dad (we lived across the street from each other). I’ll never forget hearing Mike's Dad gasp out loud and drop to a knee, nearly fainting at the sight of his son's absolutely DISINTEGRATED car; nothing more than a chunk of debris strapped onto a flat bed truck.

My Dad walked over to me and asked if Mike was still alive. He was but had serious foot injuries that took over a year to recover from. I told my Dad Jeff H. was probably dead. I remember seeing my Dad walk back to Mike's Dad and speak with him for a moment or two. Then my Dad walked back over to me, so angry he said (exact quote, I’ll never forget it), “I’ll leave it to you to find your own way home”. And with that, they drove off to the hospital in Redwood City.

Finally, another flat bed truck arrived, which loaded up my broken machine. The tow truck driver was nice enough to give me a ride home.

Quite a story, eh?

I have been told by "professionals" that my vivid memories are a classic sign of PTSD.

And to think we're all alive and well, and remain close friends. We are blessed. In many ways.

Scott
 
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Joined
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Everyone was fortunate that evening. Emergency response was not like it is today. Ambulances were called meat wagons for good reason.

I’ll bet the ambulance was a big Cadillac station wagon or similar with the rotating red light on the roof.

Good to hear all survived. I’ll bet that one guys foot bothers him when the rains come.
 
Joined
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Wow, that was stressful to read, never mind to recount having been there. So glad that you are all alive and well, you are all so fortunate.
 

BlueOvalFitter

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Cajun Country, La.
That's a great story. I'm glad no one was seriously injured.
My Army buddies remind me of the time they were to relieve me (it was their shift) from guard duty by them one night. I was so sleepy I just fell asleep on the catwalk of my Howitzer. When I awoke, I had catwalk grid impressions embedded into the side of my face.
:rolleyes: 🤷‍♂️
 

slo town

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Mar 3, 2011
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California's Central Coast Wine Country
I’ll bet that one guys foot bothers him when the rains come.
I spoke with Mike last night and asked him. Other than his left ankle being larger and stiffer than his right one, he has no lingering effects. With all of us at age 69, other things are more bothersome; stiffness and whole body aches and pains leading the pack.

I don't think the guys will mind me posting this picture. None of us are on the witness protection program!

The only ones we've lost track of are the two guys on picture left and the guy with the glasses (their families moved out of the neighborhood while we were in grade school). Other than those three, all of us remain in close contact. Mike is the one lower right, smiling and looking sideways. I'm the one in the back row, second from left, looking at the camera.

Also, a picture of my Healey before its demise (it's BRG, not black). I have an old Polaroid picture of Mike's demolished Datsun 2000 but can't find it right now.

All of us feel blessed having these lifetime long friendships. It's one of life's jackpots.

Scott

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Joined
May 19, 2004
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I have three friends from elementary school that I'm still close with, and 10 guys from college. I'm 45. Agree it's quite a blessing to have life long friends. (y)

No stories like yours though! Ours are mostly memories of good times, stupid fun, shared experiences, losing parents, etc. It's a cool thing to grow up, go to college, get the girls, start careers, have kids, etc with a bunch of great friends at your side. We're all busy and not in the same areas anymore but we still get together at least yearly, have those ongoing group texts, etc. Just went to Florence to visit one of the guys a few weeks ago.

jeff
 
Joined
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Lost touch with a couple of college friends, but a few years ago I decided to look them up. Now I stop by their house and hang out for a couple of hours every summer when I go to the beach. Reliving the old days is the best fun you can have with your clothes on.
 
Joined
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What a coincidence. I had a Datsun 2000 in 1973. 2 in fact for part of the year. Never wrecked them, but it was not for lack of trying.
Really glad your friends recovered.
 
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