A week or two ago I wrote a post titled "Adventures in Public Transportation," thinking that I would occasionally post funny observations from people-watching on the subway. Little did I know that it is actually private transportation that yields the real drama.
(All photos in this post were taken by intrepid reporter--and former Waltonianite--Shannon Whiting.)
As is clear from the most recent posts, my sister Andrea and her friend Shannon visited Philly last week. The trip was mainly to attend a friend's wedding, but Andrea was also planning to get her stuff out of our storage unit. After lots of deliberation over the best way to accomplish this, Andrea and Shannon decided to fly out to Philly from Indianapolis (to which Shannon had driven from Wisconsin) and rent an SUV to drive back with Andrea's stuff. The complicating factor was the fact that Andrea was picking up her rental at 9am on the Sunday she and Shannon planned to drive back--Andrea to Indianapolis (a 10 hour drive) and Shannon continuing to Wisconsin (another 5-6 hours).
In order to facilitate their departure, Greg and I got up at 7 that Sunday and took his pickup to our storage unit, located in New Jersey, loading up Andrea's stuff. Andrea and Shannon set off in my Dodge Neon from Mercy Street around 8, planning to meet us in King of Prussia, site of the car rental agency, right before 9. Considering all the driving they had to do, they wanted to get off as quickly after 9 as possible.
Things began smoothly. Greg and I got Andrea's stuff into his truck easily, and they left Mercy Street with plenty of time. As Greg and I were approaching King of Prussia, my phone rang. It was Andrea. The conversation went like this:
Me: Hey, did you guys get up in time?
Andrea: Something bad happened.
Me: What do you mean?
Andrea: Well, we were driving along the Schuylkill and we had an accident.
[Just so that I don't sound completely heartless, it was clear from Andrea's tone of voice that no bodily injury had occurred.]
Me: What happened to my car?
Greg, from the driver's seat: Are they OK?
Me: What happened to my car????
This is what happened to my car:
As I understand it, a grate from the road somehow got airborne and cartwheeled toward the Neon, ultimately mauling the driver's side tire. Andrea and Shannon pulled over to the side of the Schuylkill (a local highway commonly known as the Surekill Expressway), assessed the damage, and realized they couldn't drive the car in that state. They called me, and Greg and I turned around to go help them out. As we were driving toward them (we were about 10 miles up the road), a cop pulled up beside them and informed them that the grate had caused two other flat tires, and told them they could fill out a police report. He told them to wait where they were, attempt to change the tire, and promised he would return once he closed down that section of the road to prevent any further accidents.
Greg and I arrived. A friendly man whose car had also been attacked by the grate had helped them change the tire (not that Shannon wasn't completely capable). He and they were waiting for the cops to return in order to make a report.
So we all waited. And waited. Considering that the girls still had a combined 16 hours of driving ahead of them, we finally called 911 to try and figure out how long we would have to wait.
They sent along a member of the Philadelphia Parking Authority, whose contribution pretty much consisted of letting us know that "that road is f-ed up," and "that s--- is crazy!" We ended up driving the Neon to a nearby dealership and leaving it there, then all piled in Greg's pickup truck and made our way to King of Prussia. The girls got off just after noon. They made it to Indiana without any problems, but when they got back to Andrea's apartment, Shannon's car had been towed. After getting it out of the impound lot around midnight, Shannon decided to stay in Indy instead of making the rest of the trip to Wisconson.
Here's a closeup of the damage to my tire. Doesn't it look like a bear attacked it or something? The whole ordeal was actually lightened by the fact that Greg and I had already been planning on getting rid of one of our cars, and the Neon is worth a lot less than the truck.
Most importantly, considering the fact that metal was flying through the air toward a car going 60 mph, no one was hurt. That is something we are truly happy about.