February 17, 2006. I loved the pace out there for starters–everything about it…the highways, the office buildings, and the flow of everyday life. I drive fast to begin with so the learning curve of becoming a “Jersey driver” came quite easy to me. My days as a sales manager were typically action packed. Combine that with an entrepreneur charged, fly-by-the-seat-of your-pants sales mentality, I was all over the state at all different times of the day.
This particular day was no different. I had appointments booked with sales reps which, from a timing standpoint, were extremely close together with long distances to cover from point A to B. So sure enough, I quickly recapped my meeting with my sales rep with keys in hand and shot up on to the Interstate towards the next exit ramp in route to New Brunswick.
In the world of outside sales, you learn all the short cuts, all the traffic routes and the times of day that certain roads become parking lots in metropolitan areas. All while listening to your favorite alternative music station that gives an updated traffic report every ten minutes or so (In this case that is WPRB, Princeton). In typical fashion, I had my side roads mapped out in my head to cut five minutes off my destination. I was just minutes from the intended office park and making fabulous time as I looked to my left and saw Rutgers stadium and my intended exit onto Route 18 to my right. I hit my turn signal and sped onto the highway heading southbound.
I positioned myself in the left lane and cruised the typical daily sights of the brackish waters of the Raritan River, Rutgers University, Johnson and Johnson Corporate headquarters to my right, and through the underpass. A train coming from New York City slowed above me passing over the culvert as I traveled underneath. That is the moment I lost consciousness…
Confusion…I am awake, my black Beemer is slammed up against a concrete median on the far side of an intersection approaching downtown New Brunswick. I looked down to find shards of glass everywhere–on the dashboard, in my lap, on the floor, and all over my passenger seat.
In a dazed state, I heard nervous voices all around the outside of my car. A police officer was trying to talk to me. I saw an SUV in front of me that was dented from the back bumper to the left rear door. A woman and another police officer were having a conversation. I looked in my rearview mirror and saw several emergency vehicles and traffic backed up for as far as my rearview mirror would permit me to see.
What happened? Where am I? Did I cause this accident? Was I the one they were discussing on the “up to the minute” traffic report just before the lunchtime rush that day?
A few points to make….
o I had taken a seizure for the first time in my life, which caused me to blackout behind the wheel.
o The shards of glass were not from the accident itself, but rather a police officer blasted open the passenger side window to get to me.
o I was taken by ambulance to Robert Wood Johnson hospital in New Brunswick for evaluation and treatment.
o The woman who was talking to the officer in front of me apparently saw me taking a seizure as I was going through the underpass. She accelerated, pulled over in front of my vehicle and let my car collide with hers to stop me as we were approaching a major intersection.
o Several attempts were made to reach out to this heroic woman. To this day, her identity remains unknown…