The Suburban sits 10 feet below me. It’s actually more akin to “lodged” 10 feet below me.
I plead with seven boys to stay out of the road. Because it’s dark and snowy. And because when the police officer actually shows up, it’s probably best if the junior-highers are confined to the road’s shoulder, and not playing leap-frog down the median. Nothing like a really bad first impression.
I have surveyed the damage. There doesn’t really appear to be any at this point, though I am sure that once the truck is extracted from the five bushes with which it has surrounded itself, the gaping holes in its body will magically appear.
I am not exactly sure how it all happened. Accidents are like that-heck, life is like that. Everything’s going fine and then you’re spinning out of control. In someone else’s Suburban. On a snowy road. With six adolescents in the back of it. Hurtling down a gully.
It’s bizarre, really. After making sure that everyone still had themselves in tact, I forced myself out of the truck and began walking around. I couldn’t see any damage, with the exception of a few scratches on the passenger side. Then I threw up. Adrenaline is a bane.
I am standing at he edge of the ravine, waiting for the police officer to come the 20 minutes from Walden. My youth group seems to be having a strangely marvelous time for a group of hungry kids. No one is in a coat. If I were a really good leader, they’d all be in coats. But I just drove them off the road, so that cuts into my credibility as a really good leader.
Police lights crest the hill, and the officer’s Jeep coasts past the two other cars in the caravan and parks on the side of the ditch. He looks down into the ditch and lets out a small whistle. I put on brave youth leader face.
I tell him that I am Sarah Laribee, the driver of the Suburban. That has become my new identity. I am not a teacher, a student, a woman, a Christian. I am the driver of the Suburban.
“Anybody hurt?” he asks.
“No. Shockingly.” I feel my words in my mouth as they are formed. They emerge from my lips as actually tangible masses of air.
He and I go down into the ditch and look around. He has a flashlight the size of a basset hound. The beam scans the blue truck for damage, and settles on the tire that is slowly leaking air. He tells me that he can’t see any damage.
I don’t understand that. I hurled a Suburban into a 10-foot ditch.
“What do you mean?” I ask stupidly.
He tells me there’s no damage.
We hike back up the ravine, and I fall a few times. Its’ not like I am graceful in real life, let alone at the scene of an accident. He looks back down into the ditch.
“I don’t understand how you didn’t flip,” he muses out loud. “Based on all of that, you should have flipped.”
I suddenly get warmer.
He and I walk to the police car, and I hand him my license and the registration for the Suburban. Officer Rich Castle, the nicest policeman ever, takes down my information as I sit there in quiet shock.
I ask him if he believes in Jesus. He cocks his head to the side a little, and says, “I am starting to after tonight.”
The snow comes down in relentless sheets. And I am thankful for this mountain sheriff and the warmth of his police car. And the constant hand that I know directs all.
Sarah Laribee is a student teacher at Rocky Mountain High School. While she realizes that she should be writing something about supporting the war, she is still in a little bit of shock. Thank you.