She won’t drive again


To the Editor:

I have just recovered from my first and last automobile accident that was my fault, while driving at 90 and a half years old with perfect eyesight, after driving thousands of miles in four states (Florida, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey) and since 1995 full-time on Martha’s Vineyard. I’ve driven friends and family and myself everywhere in the daytime up here, and I have never received a ticket or citation since I passed my driving test in Pittsburgh, at age 17. So, I never want to drive again, because I can see the tree where I left a piece of my bumper permanently embedded on Monday, Jan. 4. It was right here on Woodside Road near the curve of our road by the Community Services driveway, when I saw a large VTA bus going over the white line toward me, because it was too wide for its lane.

I had to clean snow off my two windows on the non-driver’s side before I could back out of my parking spot in front of my building (F3). My snow boots (fake fur-lined, suede, rubber-soled) were wet on the soles and slipped from the brake pedal to the gas pedal.

I could not feel the slipping and was pressing down on the pedal to go slowly around the bus, and when it passed, I was adjusting in my lane going to Vineyard Haven, to the Tisbury Senior Center to do my volunteer job as telephone operator for Joyce Stiles-Tucker and Sandy Whitworth.

I can still see me driving into a big oak tree and saying, “No! No!” to myself and pressing harder on what I thought was the brake to slow down but instead was speeding into the tree. My Chevy was totaled.

I was conscious that my right leg was injured, so I screamed, “Help! I’m injured!” I heard a young woman (Sabrina Luening) saying, “Can you put your good foot down on the ground?” I said yes, and she lifted me out of the smoke of the air bag ( I had my seat belt on, or I would be dead), and she put me into her car seat and called (or the bus driver called) 911. An ambulance drove me to the MV Hospital.

I want everyone who reads this letter to know I received excellent care in the emergency room by doctors and nurses and x-ray technicians and two great ambulance drivers. When Dr. Cater and Dr. Monto, orthopedic surgeons, saw my x-rays, they both said, “We can’t do this leg here, she has to go to Mass General in another ambulance!” Both bones were broken, and I have two plates and 20 titanium screws in there now.

But, after two days of excellent care at Mass General, I came back to our fine hospital where I received wonderful care by Dr. Cater, his assistant, radiologists, VNA nurses, physical therapists, volunteers, technicians, food services, and maintenance for three weeks and then back home for three months of excellent care.

Jane Searle

Vineyard Haven