Wreck!!! June 11, 2007

My wife and I and my son and daughter-in-law traveled to Pennsylvania to attended my mother-in-law's funeral in Lancaster County. We decided to convoy up in two cars with my son and daughter-in-law on Saturday. We spent eleven hours making our way up (an eight hour trip), largely because of rotten traffic between Tidewater and Richmond. A lady swerved and bumped my son's car west of New Kent county at about 60mph and then fled the scene. Another nice gal from the outer banks got her license number and stopped. It took an hour to get a state policeman and file the report. We were all amazed that there was virtually no damage to the car. The lady left some paint which I was able to rub off with my palm.

The Funeral went well Sunday afternoon, with many people coming from up and down the east coast to remember mom. Believe it or not, I was persuaded to purchase and wear a suit for the first time in years. At the funeral, my wife recalled some fond memories of her mom and actually got a few giggles from her stories. I was really proud of her for speaking in public at such an emotionally charged time.

After we got Dad settled, we loaded up the two cars and began the trip back at 5pm. The stretch from D.C. to Richmond had a stretch where the three lanes were squeezed down to one, bring the traffic to a halt and forming a rolling parking lot. By about 1:30am we were finally making the transition from the I-295 beltway to I-64E just east of Richmond. The DOT was doing paving work and had turned the merge point into a cone forest right past a rise in the road, narrowing I-64 to one lane and extending the entrance ramp. The actual yield point was extremely short and unmarked save a Yield sign right at foreshortened corner. We rounded the corner with I-64 clear and then a semi-rig blasted over the rise doing better than 80 (in a work zone) and almost hit us. We were able to stop by aiming for the cones and stomping the brakes. Thanks, MINI, for a car that brakes as well as it accelerates. My daughter-in-law behind us wasn't able to stop and whacked into our backside with a tremendous thump at somewhere around 25 mph.

No-one was hurt too much but the cars were banged up and lying half-in and half-out of the cones. The coffee in our two covered cups in the front cup holders found its way to the back seat(!) The MINI's accident kill sustem had been triggered by the rear-end impact so the car was hors d' combat. We pushed the cars out of traffic and got to safety. The police were there within about three minutes, took the report, issued the requisate ticket, and called a tow for the MINI. Initially my son's Honda sounded pretty bad, but we figured out that a plastic shroud around one of the radiator fans was rputured and was making contact. We transfered all our goods from the MINI, piled into my son's car, and followed the wrecker to Crown MINI of Richmond to leave it for repairs, all the while wondering if the hood would pop up and go through the windshield. It took until about 3:30 am to get my car settled at Crown MINI, which is on the opposite side of Richmond. The nice tow truck driver helped us bungee down the Honda's hood. We then made our way home and bed at about 5am.

We spent the next day, a little sore from the impact, dealing with the insurance and arranging for the MINI to get sorted. The insurance company has been very good to us. Here's the damage to the MINI:

The rear bumper is not only deformed but sprung from the frame and torn from its mountings from what I can tell. The rear hatch still works.

The exhausts look to be deformed and the heat shield is ruptured. The the backup lamp is gone. Here's what the Honda got. Notice the bungee cord given to us by the nice tow truck driver:

I can honestly say that it never occurred to me to be all that worried about my MINI - when my loved ones are involved in a wreck, their safety is SO much more important than that of my car that any damage is totally secondary. We were already pretty emotionally drained by Mom's passing and the funeral so it was just a bump in the road. Still, knowing that I love my MINI, my lovely daughter-in-law felt really bad about running into it. Frankly, I was more concerned with getting her and the family home and safe, and was saddened that her car was damaged while she supported the family at the funeral. And frankly, two wrecks in two days was a little much.

Soooo... The Red Rocket is up at Crown and I'm driving this:

A Grand Am from Enterprise. Not bad, for American. We'll see how the whole thing plays out.

Update 06-19-07: A week later and we are all still a little tired. I suppose a certain amount of back and forth between the shop and the insurance company must be expected in today's financial world. There has been a little of this. For the first time in my life, I kept my nose out of it and simply let things develop. In the end, the two were able to come to an agreement that provides that all the work is done properly. The work is actually be performed at this point.

Update 06-22-07:I travelled up to Richmond to pick up the car and some "details" weren't right. We traded in the Pontiac for an '07 MINI loaner which I'm evaluating while I wait for my car to be finished.

The new edition is a vastly different car. I'd love to comment on the differences between it and my '03 but don't want to raise any hackles.

Update 06-27-07: We travelled to Richmond and picked up the car yesterday and the back end is looking great:

I can't tell you how glad I am to have my own MINI back. What a solid car!

My New MINI Homepage: CLICK HERE