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The accident that shook my life

Courtesy of Nicky Pritchett

Courtesy of Nicky Pritchett

Pritchett's car was badly damaged after the crash.

Nicky Pritchett, Contributing Writer

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In an instant, everything I thought I knew was turned upside down. Late one Saturday night in early February, my outlook on life became as jumbled as my wrecked car.

Like pretty much all teenagers, I had a tendency to take many things for granted, driving included. I read stories in the paper and saw horrific segments on TV about teens and driving, but it came in one ear and left the other…until I slammed head on into a tree, while going 60 miles per hour.

Here’s how it went: I knew the weather was bad, but I didn’t know that there was a layer of black ice on a section of Utterback Store Road.  I was racing to beat my curfew, and my car suddenly skidded off the road. I hit a tree head-on, but I can’t tell you how thankful I am that a tree, not another vehicle, stopped my out-of-control car.

 As I rode in the ambulance and regained consciousness, I was amazed that I had even survived. I had no idea what the extent of my injuries were, but I knew that I’d become one of “those stories” you hear about on the news. I’m one of “those” people now, who know that the consequences of one mistake can last a lifetime and seriously wound the people around them.

I’m also thankful that none of my friends were in the car with me. It was awful to learn these lessons the hard way, from my mistakes, but it would have been worse to drag other people into it.  

Many teens think that nothing can happen to them behind the wheel, but my own thoughts about being invincible flew out that shattered windshield. I know without a doubt that I’m lucky to be alive.

Imagine having to hear the cries of your mother as she sits outside your hospital room. My mom wasn’t allowed in because I was screaming in pain, and hospital workers had to calm me down first. Imagine later having to hear the disappointment in your father’s voice when he found out what stupid mistakes you had made. That’s what happened to me. My dad was out of town. It was one of the worst phone calls I’ve ever had.

As I rolled around Langley in a wheelchair right after the wreck, I had to depend on everyone around me; it made me feel helpless.

I truly appreciate the people who have been there for me, helping me through these difficult times. I’m especially thankful for my parents, and I’m really sorry I put them through all of this.

I’m also a little afraid that my life won’t turn out the way I had planned. Doctors repeatedly tell me that I probably won’t play lacrosse this season, since I severed the tendons connecting my knee to my femur. It’s an injury that will likely cause life-long pains. I feel like I’ve let my team and coaches down, but I know my girls will pull together and be just as successful without me.

While I’ve gone through a lot of pain and disappointment, the accident has really opened my eyes. I hope it will open your eyes to the dangers of driving too. I’m not trying to get your sympathy. Rather, I want to share my story just so you know that this can happen to you too.

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The accident that shook my life