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For Eslam

Organized by: Ahmed Gamal

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THE STORY:

My Crash. My name is Eslam, and I am 18 years old. On November 19, 2010, I was in my first car accident. I had only recieved my license a month before. I was driving my father's 1994 Toyota Camry in West Babylon, NY at around 3:30 in the afternoon. To be specific, I was going northbound on Great Neck Rd., and I went to make a left on CR 12, or Railroad Avenue. I'll describe the Intersection: It's at an angle, with CR 12 going West-East, and Great Neck Rd. going Southwest-Northeast. There are elevated railroad tracks along the north side of CR 12, the tracks being supported by an embankment with concrete walls along the sides, with about a 1-ft. wide curb between it and the road. The left turn I was making involved a 135 degree turn, instead of the normal 90 degrees. Unlike most busy intersections, this one does not have a left-turn traffic signal, so drivers have to go when they have a chance. There was a lot of traffic when I was there, and it was my first time at that intersection. I was waiting for a chance to turn, and I thought I saw a gap in traffic, so I turned. However, as soon as I had started, I saw that I had been mistaken, and a car was heading right at me with no sign of stopping. I was already in his way, so I couldn't just stop. I felt that I had no choice but to quickly accelerate to get out of his way. However, I hadn't realized how sharp of a turn it was, and I saw that I was headed straight for the concrete wall. My front-right tire jumped the curb, and I quickly swerved left to avoid hitting the wall. But I turned too hard, and I slammed into the side of a bus that was stopped at the light, waiting to turn left. Now, all this occured in less than 4 seconds. After hitting the bus, my car rolled back, blocking traffic going west on CR 12. The front end of my car was crumbled, and the bus had a massive gash in its side. I had puncutured its gas tank, and diesel fuel was leaking all over the road. Thankfully, I never blacked out. But I was in shock, just staring out my windshield, gripping the steering wheel. I could hear the bus driver on the radio, calling in the accident. Luckily, the bus was empty. After about a minute, a woman came to investigate. She came over to me, and spoke to me through the open window. She told me her name was Jill, and she was a nurse. She told me to put the car in park, and to turn off the ignition, which I did. She asked me my name, and if I had any pain. At that point, I noticed I my neck was getting stiff. She told me not to move my head. I could only see straight ahead, and I was unable to see the damage, because my hood had crumpled upwards. But it really hit me when I saw a passerby who had stopped to help pick up my front license plate from five feet away. I managed to call my house to let them know what had happened. The police then arrived, and blocked off traffic. Firefighters showed up to deal with the spilled fuel. The whole time, I was holding Jill's hand with my left hand, and the steering wheel with my right, unwilling to let go. My mom showed up pretty quickly, which made the whole thing easier to deal with. The paramedics showed up after about 10 minutes. At least, I think it was 10 minutes. By this point, I had lost all sense of time. They weren't sure if I had any neck damage, so they put me in a neck brace, and ambulanced me out to the nearest hospital. Thank God I didn't. All I had was a case of whiplash, and I was out of the hospital after an hour. The car was totaled beyond repair, and my father turned it over to a body shop. My parents were just relieved that I wasn't hurt. I may be physically fine, but not mentally. Depsite my parents' reassurances, I feel massive guilt over this. I made choices I shouldn't have made. I should have waited to make that turn. Hell, I shouldn't have even been at that intersection. In fact, I was going to take a different route home, but by that time of day, the sun was setting, and I didn't want to be traveling west on the road I usually take. Now, because of my foolishness, I destroyed a perfectly good car. This is not my only problem. I have mentally regressed. Everything I learned before I crashed, I feel is gone. All the confidence I had carefully gained when learning to drive has been wiped out. As I am writing this, it hasn't even been 48 hours, and I feel terrified to be in a car, let alone drive one. We have another car, and my parents want me to get right back in the driver's seat. But I can't do it. I just can't. I am going to have to relearn how to drive. I can't go anywhere until I have rebuilt my confidence. It took me months to get over my fear of driving when I first started out, and that was before I knew was it was like to crash. Now I feel it take much longer, for now I am no longer just afraid, but terrified. Before yesterday, I was excited to go on the expressway. Now, I am deathly afraid to go down the block. Something I noticed about being in a crash: when you get back in a car for the first time, even if you're just a passenger, you are more alert than you have ever been. I saw every car, every light, every sign, every pedestrian. I thought I had a heart attack every time I saw a car that looked like it was about to cut in front of us. The crash replays itself nonstop in my mind. I have had nightmares, where I get into easily avoidable accidents. I can't go on like this. I am going to have to get behind the wheel sooner or later. But I have no idea how.

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Ahmed Gamal

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