Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Close call on the highway

I was driving from my home in Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur late last night. It was just past 10pm when I left the Kempas toll plaza heading north on the NSE. About 1km from the Skudai interchange I heard a bang and saw that a car in front of me had stopped and smoke was coming from its engine. I managed to slow down in time and as I passed the stalled car, I realised it had run into an accident with a bus in front of it.

The bus slowed down and stopped by the shoulder and I did the same. I got out of my car and walked back towards the accident scene. The bus driver was already standing at the rear of his vehicle examining a huge dent on the right corner of his bus. I asked him what happened and he said that something hit the bus from behind. I looked back towards the accident spot and to my horror, the driver was still in the wrecked car that had stopped on the left lane of the highway. This stretch of the highway is unlit and the car’s lights were all dead. Anytime another vehicle would be speeding up the lane, spot the stationary car too late and crash into it.

I immediately made a dash to the car and saw that an elderly gentleman in his 60’s was in the driver’s seat. He appeared to be talking on his mobile phone and does not look injured. Fearing for his safety, I knocked on the window and shouted at him to get out of the car…. but he did not seem to hear me. Either he is to engrossed in his call or maybe he is trapped and could not get out.

I had to make a quick on-the-spot decision : do I help him out of his car or do I signal to oncoming traffic to avoid further collision? I decided to do the latter. I have a torchlight in my car but I fear that running back to get it may be too late. The only other available source of light is my mobile phone. I turned on the phone screen and started to frantically wave at the oncoming traffic. It was one of the most dangerous things I ever did. I wasn’t sure if the tiny light from the phone is visible enough to other drivers but I had to try something. I stood by the edge of the road trying my best to warn other drivers, jumping out of the way at the last minute if they do not spot me. A few times, there were cars driving too fast…. I had to jump out of the way, heard the tyres screeching and was expecting to hear the loud bang of cars smashing into each other… but somehow they manage to swerve and avoid hitting the stationary car.

I was already praying… Dear God, I really need your help right now. Please don’t let anybody die here tonight. As if in immediate reply, the next vehicle that came by was a lorry whose driver manage to spot my frantic waving in time and slowed to a stop. The lorry driver switched on his hazard lights and helped divert other oncoming traffic to change lanes. Under this cover, the bus driver helped the old man out of his mangled car to the side of the road. Unfortunately, the lorry driver did not stay for long. As soon as the old man was out, the lorry switched lanes and moved off, leaving the smashed car still on the path of oncoming traffic.

I walked about 30 metres further up the road, still waving the tiny light of my cellphone, hoping to at least give earlier warning and increase the stopping distance. In between, I managed to squeeze in a call to Plus helpline on their 1-800 number to report the accident. Being a regular customer of Plus Expressways, their helpline number is already stored in my phone. I told the person on duty the location of the accident and stressed the need to get help fast because the area is very dark and there’s a high chance of a secondary crash.

The next few minutes waiting for help to arrive were extremely nervy. I continued to warn the oncoming traffic as best as I can and there a few more occasions of near misses. The sound of screeching tyres of cars braking hard can be quite traumatic.

I heaved a huge sigh of relief when I spotted the flashing beacon of the Plus patrol truck. The Plus personnel quickly deployed road cones and arranged for the crash debris to be swept off the road.

I made my way back to old man and asked him, `Are you okay, Uncle?’ Yes, he said. I told him that I was worried when he did not get out of his car and my fear of another vehicle hitting him. He said he was in a bit of a shock then and his first reaction was to call his friend. It didn’t occur to him that he should’ve gotten out of the car first.

He then took my hand and shook it. `Thank you,’ he said. `Thank you very much.’

By that time the traffic police had arrived and wanted to ask him questions, so I slowly slipped out of the way but not without snatching a pic of the damaged car.

Luckily the old man was driving alone. I dread to think if there was someone with him in the front passenger seat.

 Close call for the driver of this car


Kama At-Tarawis said...

Ya Allah, that was a bad one! Syukur Alhamdulillah takder sesiapa yang injured, or worse, meninggal.

May Allah swt bestow all His blessings upon you, Oldstock, for helping someone in need.

HLiza said...

Phew that was scary! Glad things turned out okay..and we need more highway users like you.

Pak Zawi said...

You did a great deed. happy to note that there were no casualties as an accident along highways normally happen at high speed.

Zendra-Maria said...

You were a selfless samaritan, Oldstock. That old man was very lucky you were around but gosh, his car looks a write-off...

Oldstock said...

Kak Kama, Hliza, Pak Zawi and Kak Zen,

The decision to help out was instinctive. I was involved in an accident many years ago on the NSE somewhere near Seremban. Circumstances were similar, i.e at night and the highway was dark. A few good souls helped me out of my car in that incident.

Nin said...

A case of being in the right place, at the right time, to do the right thing. You did good =)

Andrea Wh@tever said...

Oh dear me! Praise and Thanks to The Almighty for the protection that He had bestowed on Mr Oldstock, the old driver and all the people who were on the highway at that particular point in time.

Pat said...

That was a brave thing you did, Oldstock. Even if it was instinctive as you say. For many others, their instincts would have said to simply drive on after rubber-necking the smashed car.

I am glad the old Uncle was all right. I am sure he was in shock after the crash, otherwise, he's have opened the door, for sure.

The highway was a safer place that night because of you. Way to go, old friend! :)

Oldstock said...


Yes, it happened in front of my eyes and not doing anything would have been wrong, for me at least.

Oldstock said...

Andrea and Pat,

The circumstances were such that it was within my ability to do something. Was more of a spur of the moment thing rather than bravery of any sort.

Looking back at the damage, I believe the car driver either mistimed his move to overtake the bus or he had a momentary lapse of concentration. But I reckon he must have been driving fast for the car engine to be ripped up like that.