Remember That Life-Changing Truck? Well, It's Totaled Now (Plus Disneyland!)

You know those billboards on the side of the highway that warn against drunk driving, saying it's more than just a couple blocks - it's a family torn apart? Well, my family had the devastating occasion to be present for one of these horrific tragedies. Here are the facts:

Last Monday night, around 9:00pm, a man and his buddies were driving over half the speed limit towards the corner that we live on. A woman and her grown son and daughter were stopped at a stop sign, and presumably the woman decided she had enough time to cross the street before the truck got there. Unfortunately, the truck that was driving over 50 mph and appeared to be half a block down actually made up that distance much faster than the woman anticipated, and the truck broadsided her car in the middle of the intersection.

The impact threw the son from the back seat of the little car and caused it (the little car) to smash right into Josh's truck parked in front of our house. It smashed the back axle to pieces. It then skidded into our neighbor's front tree, and the truck spun after impact and rolled into a tree halfway down our block, a little under a block away from the initial impact site. The investigators measured the skid marks and confirmed the truck was traveling over double the speed limit AFTER the impact. The officers also confirmed that alcohol was a factor in the accident. The two passengers of the truck ran off after the crash and weren't caught until hours later. The son that was thrown across the street on impact died a few minutes after the crash. You can read more here, here, and here.

 
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We heard the crash that night as we were watching tv. It happened about twenty feet away from where we were sitting, and let me tell you: it sounded horrible. We ran outside (stepping over a bumper and spare tire cover from the little car on our front porch) and all we saw was the smoke coming from the flipped truck and the little car smashed into the tree. Josh called 911, and we called out to the other people coming out of houses to make sure no one was in the flipped truck. We couldn't see a safe way to get the women out of the smaller car, so we told them to just stay put. The driver looked dazed, and her daughter was unconscious and wedged between the front two seats. The ambulances came so fast, and proceeded to take both women to the hospital and began CPR on the son across the street who we then noticed for the first time. We watched them try to save his life and ultimately load him into an ambulance that didn't leave for a while, and we realized the worst.

We stayed around for a couple hours and answered questions, Josh wrote a statement, and our front lawn and porch got roped off with crime scene tape. We took pictures of our car the next morning, stayed up-to-date with the news outlets, and talked to several insurance companies and police officers over the next few days. The drunk driver was driving on a suspended license and without insurance. Our truck came back with an estimated repair cost of over $10,000, and was declared totaled by our insurance company. We're lucky we had any uninsured motorist coverage at all, so we'll be getting about $3K to replace the truck, but it can never replace THAT truck, Josh's dream truck.

As we mourn the loss of Josh's beloved truck, we can't even begin to process the combination of emotions as a result of this devastating event. We feel terribly sad to lose a secondary mode of transportation, and a great one at that. That truck was one of Josh's most treasured things, and he's pretty hurt over the loss. We barely had it for a month, and the title finally arrived in the mail just the day after the accident. We also feel horribly guilty to even be mourning a truck when another family lost a son, and our family stayed safe. We also feel grateful to Josh's truck for blocking the path of the little car which surely would have jumped the curb and run straight into our house due to the force with which it was hit. We also feel angry at the man responsible for not only our loss, but the suffering this family (and his) will feel in years to come. We're angry at whoever let him borrow their truck without a license or insurance and at his friends for letting him drive impaired. We're confused in our emotions thinking of the man's children who are about to live a life so different from the one they thought they'd be living as a result of their father's poor choices, and the family and friends of the man that died who didn't get to say goodbye. We feel wary on the road and in our neighborhood and when taking the dog out each night (usually around 9:00pm, the same time as the accident).

Another thing I'm feeling is an immense gratitude to the universe/my Heavenly Father for not only keeping us safe, but giving us a chance to step away from all this. Several months ago, we booked a trip for this past weekend to Disneyland. You can read more about that decision (and our acquisition of the previously mentioned truck) in this post. I'm 100% positive that this trip was meant to be, and it was a huge blessing for us. Can you imagine if we'd gone a week earlier and been out of town when this happened? Or if we just hadn't had this chance to get away? After such a stressful week dealing with agencies and mechanics and officers and finally learning that we were just out a car, it was so wonderful to get out of town.

Of course, I'm just telling our perspective of these events. We recognize that in the grand scheme of things we barely play a part. I got a chance to step away and spend a few glorious days soaking in the sun with my favorite people and making wonderful memories with my kids, but on the way back, as reality set in again, I realized that I needed a moment to write all my thoughts and feelings down so that I could continue processing what happened and move on. So thanks for letting me do that and keep reading to hear all about our trip.


We left on Saturday and came back today. Saturday night we checked into the most ADORABLE hotel called The Anaheim Hotel right across from the entrances to Disneyland. I was so lucky (slash blessed, obviously) to get us a room so close at such a huge discount. We had the perfect set-up: we were literally a six minute walk to the security checkpoints and we had like twenty restaurants within a block of us. Oh yeah, and our hotel!!! WAS!!! PERFECTION!!! It had this totally retro mid-century vibe with jewel tones and angled furniture and big lampshades and abstract artwork and fun signage in Brady Bunch-esque fonts. I was drooling. There was an attached restaurant called The Pizza Press with really yummy garlic bread and the waiters were called "editors". Heart eyes, all around. There was also an olympic-sized heated pool and a back terrace with beautiful fountains and seating and shaped hedges. Our room was super deep cleaned every day by the time we came back from the day's outing and I felt like we definitely got more of a value than what we paid.

After checking in last Saturday, we stopped at a grocery story per our friend Calli's genius recommendation and bought stuff for sandwiches, snacks, grapes, bananas, and bagels and cream cheese. We bathed the boys and let them watch a Disney movie in bed with us until they fell asleep, and that ended up being our nightly tradition (partly because I love snuggling them and partly because that's the only way we could get them to fall asleep away from home this trip).

On Sunday, we walked only 15 minutes through the promenade between Disneyland and California Adventure to get to the Disneyland Hotel where we'd made a reservation for breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen. TOTALLY ONE OF THE BEST THINGS OF THE TRIP. Actually, everything about this trip was great, but this was an awesome way to start it off. The boys loved the pb&j pizza and seeing all the characters. After breakfast, we drove to Laguna Beach and spent the day playing in the sand, having a picnic at a playground, meeting up with some friends who drove out to join us on our trip, and successfully avoiding sunburns. That night, we ate dinner at Downtown Disney and the boys got to stay up a good three hours past their bedtime.

On Monday, we got up early and ate our bagels and then walked to Disneyland. Everything about this day was perfect! Our boys ended up miraculously falling asleep around lunch time for about an hour, so we didn't even leave the park to let them take a nap in the middle of the day, which is what we'd originally planned. We really just played it by ear and let the boys dictate the pace.

That's the main thing that made this trip so special: we didn't let a schedule or list of to-dos dictate our success. We really didn't ride that many rides, and I didn't ride a single ride that the boys couldn't go on (not Indiana Jones, not Space Mountain, not Splash Mountain, nothing), but I don't regret a thing. I don't feel like I didn't get my value out of the trip at all. Experiencing Disneyland with your kids is a whole new can of worms, and I was pretty good at mentally prepping myself ahead of time so that when we got there, I really was just fully content with whatever we got to do. That made all the difference, and I really hope I can continue this feeling of complete contentment in all things in my life because I am positive that the universe will continue to send back the good vibes in return.

We ended the evening with the Pixar Play Parade (totally all that it's cracked up to be - and more) which the boys loved and then finished with one more ride. I think the boys loved Winnie the Pooh the most and getting to wave to everyone on the boat and train whenever it passed by.

On Tuesday, we walked up to Panera for breakfast since I love me some St. Louis Bread Company pastries. As we were standing in line for security to go onto the Disney promenade, I realized that at some point between the hotel this morning and the security line, I had inexplicably lost our tickets. I was horrified! But we got it all figured out because Disney is amazingly accommodating and a nice 105+ year old man named Cap reprinted the tickets for us at the front gate so that we could get in.

We did even less at California Adventure since we were so exhausted, but again, we still enjoyed every minute of it. The boys loved the Monster's Inc. ride and Toy Story Mania, and I loved walking through the Pixar Pier preview display at the Blue Sky Cellar (I love miniature models and color schemes and computer graphic renderings of buildings, so basically I was in heaven). We were also blessed in this trip with the assistance of the aforementioned friends Brad and Erin. They were so nice and continually offered to watch our kids so we could do other things, and while we were totally content to just hang with the boys, we did take them up on their offer so we could do Soarin' Around the World at California Adventure while the boys took a mid-day nap again.

We ended that day with a Treasure Island Brownie Sundae and a relaxing evening in the hotel, back early for the night so we could pack up and let the boys run around and play with their new Puppy Dog Pals souvenirs. We got back into Salt Lake this morning and the boys slept more today since getting home than they have for naps the past four days.

I'm so so so grateful for my beautiful children and amazing husband who let me plan trips and make them so much more fun than I ever could imagine! Here's to a summer filled with more family vacations and fun memories and snuggles with the ones I love.

 

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Rachel Cottrell | @rachelacottrell

mama to twins • drinker of the Dew

Rachel is a huge fan of TJ Maxx and chocolate chip cookies. She is currently working on updating her 1940s home with her husband.


 

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