When I hit a patch of ice — then the median on the highway — I was surprised. But I shouldn’t have been.
Everyone on the Sea to Sky was well aware of the blizzard conditions when I got behind the wheel a few weeks ago.
Many would tell me after that it could have been much worse. Friends, family, coworkers would all tell me I was lucky — and they were right. But what no one told me, although it was also true, was just how dumb it was.
Once the shock of the collision wore off, after I realized no one else was involved and I wasn’t hurt, the first thing I felt was embarrassment. I knew better, but drove through rough conditions anyway.
(My car did have snow tires on, for the record.)
Of course, I wasn’t the only one on the highway that morning. And mine wasn’t the only crash over the following days — Squamish RCMP responded to 25 collisions between Jan. 14 and 20. But despite the multiple weather warnings recommending to avoid non-essential travel, I was out there anyway. Blizzard conditions called for winds between 40 and 60 kilometres per hour on top of 15 centimetres of snow. It’s so easy to think we know best, that it couldn’t happen to me, but we don’t and it does.
Getting behind the wheel again wasn’t easy. I couldn’t help but think of the car crashes where people didn’t make it out unscathed. How life can change or end in an instant. Unsettling, if not distracting, to think about while controlling a half tonne of metal.
What did help though, was the help I received after the crash. When my car came to a stop pointed in the wrong direction on the divided highway, the woman driving behind me who saw it happen, pulled over to make sure I was OK. Then she got out and directed traffic so I could turn around.
Then, there were the lovely residents of Britannia Beach, gathered at the fire department when the community lost power (another sign of the terrible conditions). I’d pulled over to catch my breath. One woman waited outside my car until I stopped crying, then offered me coffee and a blanket, while others helped me check over my car. They shared their own accident stories with me, and we shared a laugh.
Once I got back to Squamish and pulled into the auto body shop, a close friend who works there greeted me. When he realized it wasn’t a social call, he gave me a much-needed hug and told me it was going to be OK.
These are just a few of the interactions I had with some of the people who make up our community. While I was still shaken up, it was comforting to know that even though I was alone in my car at the time of the accident, I’m not alone in Squamish. This small but growing town still takes time to check in on each other.
The highway, as dangerous as it can be, connects us together.