Christine and her son Jamie had left Las Vegas four hours earlier after spending a couple of days there seeing the sights. They were on their way to their new home in Hemet, California. She had just gotten a new teaching position at Loma Linda University Hospital. Her position was as the head of the pediatric residency program. She had jumped at the chance to work with kids and overseeing the residency program for pediatrics. When she got the call that said that she had been selected for the position she had flown out there from their home in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Where they had lived since Jamie was a baby, to interview for the position when she heard about it. It had taken the university a month to make the decision and when they did she quickly accepted it.
Her biggest worry about the move had been Jamie. He had grown up in Idaho Falls and had a few friends. He was thirteen now and she was sure that he would put up a fight about leaving his friends, but he went along with it pretty easily. She saw that he had been a little teary eyed when he said goodbye to his friends when they left town, even though he tried to hide it. But other that he seemed to be okay with the move to California.
They had been driving on the I-15 freeway for the last few days since they had left Idaho Falls. They had taken their time driving to their new home. They made a few stops along the way to see some of the sights. The longest was in Las Vegas, where they stayed at the Excalibur and took in a show and just had a good time together. They had been driving on the I-15 south freeway until they saw the spilt for the I-215 south freeway.
"Jamie, keep an eye out for the Mathews Road exit. We get off there and go east from there to Hemet."
They were going to be moving into a newer housing development in Hemet. The house was two stories with three bedrooms and it had a pool in the backyard. Jamie really liked the idea of the pool because they hadn't had one in Idaho. It wasn't a practical idea because of the winter weather. He was really looking forward to being able to go swimming any time he wanted to.
They continued driving south.
"Hey, there's the exit Jamie."
Christine took the exit and headed southeast on Mathews Road until they got to Highway 74. She dialed a number on her cell that was attached to the dashboard.
"Hi, this is Christine Carpenter…yeah…it wasn't bad. We're on Highway 74. We should be there in a little while…Oh good…You'll meet us at the house?...Okay good…We'll see you when we get there…Yes, thanks…Bye now."
She looked over at Jamie and smiled.
"The realtor said he'd meet us at the house. He said the moving truck got there yesterday and got everything moved into the house. We'll probably have to move some things around to get it the way we want it, but it will be home."
Jamie nodded and gave her an answering smile as she turned east and followed the highway until they reached Hemet. The highway became a street called Florida Avenue, which was the main street of town. At Cawston Avenue they turned north. They continued north for about a mile and half.
Before they turned off the road into one of the nearby housing developments, Kathy pointed to a school on their left. "That's where you'll be going to school in the fall, Rancho Viejo Middle School."
Jamie looked at it as they drove by. It looked like a fairly new school. He hoped it would be a good school as well. He was a little worried about being the new kid, but he hoped he wouldn't have too much trouble making some new friends. They turned into the housing development and in a few moments they pulled into the driveway of their new home.
There was a car parked in front of the house and a man got out of the car as they pulled in. He walked over to them as they got out of the car. "Good afternoon Mrs. Carpenter. Welcome to California."
"Hi, Mr. Nissen. Thanks, it's good to be here. Boy, it's kind of hot here."
"Yeah, during the summer it can get pretty hot out here. Lucky for you folks you've got a pool out back."
"Yeah, I think Jamie is really looking forward to that."
"Mr. Nissen, this is my son Jamie. Jamie, this is Mr. Nissen, the guy who helped us get the house."
They shook hands and he led them to the house. He took a set of keys out of his pocket and opened the door for them before waving them through.
"Welcome to your new home."
They went inside and started looking around. Christine had used a layout of the house to help the movers know where everything was supposed to go. The furniture was in the house, and the correct rooms, but not really arranged in the way that she wanted. There were still boxes everywhere that needed to be unpacked. Mr. Nissen showed them around the first floor before leading them upstairs to where the bedrooms were located. On the first floor there was the kitchen, living room and a separate den. A full dining room and another room that Christine planned to make into her home office. There was also a full bathroom downstairs. Upstairs there was a large master bedroom with its own connected bathroom. The other two bedrooms had a bathroom located between them. They saw that their bedroom furniture had been moved in, but the beds had not been set up yet and again there were boxes everywhere to unpack. After showing them the inside, he led them back downstairs and out back to look at the backyard. There was a grassy area to the left of the pool. The pool was sort of oblong shaped and had a spa at one end of it.
Mr. Nissen turned to them and held out the house keys. "Well, here you are. It's all yours."
"Thank you for everything. It's lovely. I think Jamie and I will be very happy here."
They walked back through the house and out the front door. They shook hands once more and he left. Christine and Jamie went out to the car to get their suitcases and the few personal things that they hadn't wanted to leave to the movers, such as their computers, and brought them inside.
Once they had their personal things and suitcases in their respective rooms Jamie helped his mom get her bed put together and setup. Then she went with him to do the same for his room. After that, they continued working in their respective bedrooms getting them at least comfortably arranged so that they could at least sleep in them tonight. After that his mom moved to the kitchen and started putting things away while Jamie unpacked some of the bed linens and towels. He then joined his mom in the kitchen to finish up there. They looked at the living room and den areas. Christine worked in the living room while Jamie went to the den and started hooking up the TV and home theatre system. When he was finished he turned it on to check it out and saw that everything seemed to be working. He went to help his mom move some furniture around in the living room until she was mostly satisfied. They had been working most of the day. They dropped down on the couch feeling pretty tired. Christine looked over at Jamie.
"Well, I think we've done enough for today. We'll take the rest of the night off. I'm too tired to cook and besides we don't have anything in the fridge. We need to get some basic food and supplies and then we'll go get something to eat somewhere, depending on what we find."
"Sounds good, I'm beat too Mom."
"Well let's wash up and change clothes. We've been wearing these all day."
Jamie went to his room and rummaged through his suitcase to find some clothes to change into. He quickly cleaned up and went back downstairs to wait for his mom. While he was waiting he went out front to just look around a little. It had cooled down a little. It was still a bit warmer than what he was used to back in Idaho, but he thought he could like this. Besides, they had a pool and that was real cool. It was in the middle of the week so people were only just now getting home from work. Most of the families were getting ready for dinner so there weren't too many people outside at the moment. He saw some kids, most of them younger than him.
"Ah, there you are? So are you surveying your new domain?"
"Just looking around Mom."
"Well, let's go. I'm hungry."
"Yeah, me too."
She smiled and opened the car door to get in. Jamie was about to get in too, but something made him pause. Something made him turn around and look down the street. He saw a couple of boys riding on bikes towards him but across the street. He watched them as they drew even with him. He felt something, but couldn't explain it. The window lowered and his mom's voice got his attention.
"Hello, Earth to James. I thought you said you were hungry?"
"Oh, yeah…sorry Mom."
Jamie got in and his mom pulled out of the drive and drove south. As they drove off the two boys stopped to watch them drive away before continuing on their way to their homes. They talked as they rode home.
"How old do you think that guy is?"
"About our age, I guess."
"I wonder if he's cool."
"We could come by in a couple of days and see if he's around. Find out who he is."
"Yeah, I guess."
They continued on their way.
Christine headed back towards Florida Avenue and soon found a shopping center. There was a Vons market and right nearby they saw an In and Out burger, which sounded like a good choice. Christine pulled up and they went up to the window. Once they finished eating, they went to Vons to buy what they needed. They filled up two carts with everything they would need and headed home. Back home it took several trips to get everything in. They put everything away and Jamie went to the den to watch TV while his mom went to the room that was going to be her office.
After a little while, she came looking for him. "Jamie, could you come and help me get my desktop computer set up in the office?"
He got up and followed her into the office. While his mom put some things away Jamie worked on the computer, printer, and scanner. He soon had it set up and turned it on to see if everything was working. It all looked good. He set up the internet connection and the wireless router. The connection worked fine and he shut down the computer.
"Everything's good Mom. The internet's set up. I'm going up to my room, to make sure I can connect to the Wi Fi."
"Okay honey, thanks for the help."
Jamie headed upstairs to his room. He pulled his laptop out, placed it on his desk and booted it up. He was soon on the internet and everything looked good. He saw that there were a couple of emails from a couple of his friends from Idaho and he answered them to let them know he was in his new home and what it looked like. He shut it down a few minutes later and went back downstairs to watch some TV. Before he knew it, his mom was shaking him.
"Jamie. You should go up to bed, it's been a long day and we've got some more work to do tomorrow."
Jamie sat up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes as he looked around the den. He had apparently dozed off while watching TV.
"Cmon, get up and go to bed."
"Kay Mom. Good night."
She gave him a hug and kiss, "Night honey."
Jamie went upstairs and made his way to his bedroom. When he got there he realized that he had not made his bed yet. So he quickly made the bed before stripping to his skin and sliding under the covers. The window was open a little to let in some fresh air that had cooled down some by now. The day caught up with him and he was soon asleep.
For the next couple of days, the two of them worked throughout the house unpacking the boxes and putting things away. As they emptied a box, Jamie would collapse it and bring it out to the garage where they had a stack of the collapsed boxes. They also finished arranging and rearranging furniture, until Christine was satisfied that everything was where she wanted it. When it was time to start hanging pictures, shelving and other decorations on the walls, Christine found that she needed some nails and hooks.
"It's getting late and I'm hungry, let's leave this for tomorrow. We need some more things to finish this. I saw a Home Depot the other day when we went to dinner. Let's go there and then let's have a non fast food type dinner while we're out. Sound good?"
"Yeah, I'm starved."
"Good, go clean up."
Jamie headed upstairs to clean up. Fifteen minutes later, they were both downstairs and ready to go out. As they pulled out and drove away, the two boys from the other day slowed down as they got near the house.
"We missed him. Let's come back tomorrow."
They turned around and headed back the way they came.
Jamie and his mom found the Home Depot that she had seen the other day. They spent almost an hour in the store as they went through the aisles and filled a cart with several items that Christine thought that they would need as they finished getting the house ready. After they put everything in the car, they saw a Coco's restaurant nearby and went there for dinner. They weren't looking for anything fancy, so a family type restaurant sounded just right to them.
By the time they got out of the restaurant the sun was going down. They decided to drive around a little bit, to see some of the town before they headed home. It was fully dark when they finally headed home. Things looked different at night, and so they got a little turned around. After driving around a little bit to get her bearings back she finally found her way back to Florida Ave.
"Finally, I thought we'd be driving around all night. Sorry about that."
"S'okay Mom. At least we got to see most of the town….and the next town, and the town after that, and…"
They were both laughing as they got to the corner at Florida and Cawston and turned right. At the next major street the light turned green as they neared it and they continued through it. Jamie turned to say something to his mom and he saw headlights coming towards them real fast. At the last moment his mom saw the lights from the oncoming car and tried to get out of the way, but it was too late. Jamie threw his arms up as if to ward off the car. There was the sound of crashing metal, squealing tires and breaking glass as the car that had run the red light hit them at nearly full speed on Christine's side of the car, right near the driver's side door. The other car was going well above the speed limit when it hit them and their car rolled a couple of times until it hit a light pole, which stopped their roll, otherwise they would probably have continued to tumble a little more. They ended up with the top of the car leaning against the pole, the bottom of the car facing the road. The car of the driver who hit them had spun a few times before coming to a rest pointing back the direction he had come from. His front grill was pushed halfway back to the windshield.
Calls to 911 went out from other drivers who saw the whole thing. People pulled their cars to the side of the road and ran to help. Some of the people went to each car to see what they could do. When they checked the driver of the car that hit Jamie and his mom, they saw that the driver had the steering wheel pushed into his chest, pinning him against the seat. He was unconscious and groaning faintly. They tried to open his door but it was jammed and they could not budge it.
Over at Christine's car, the onlookers were trying to get to the two of them, but the position of the car and the damage it had sustained made it difficult. They could see into the car, but couldn't get to them very easy. There were some shopping bags from Home Depot scattered around outside the car. They tried to see if either of them was moving but neither of them moved at all. The onlookers could see that it appeared to be a woman and a young teenage boy. They figured he was probably her son. They all felt helpless but they could hear the sirens coming now and they knew that help would be there soon.
Within a minute the police, fire department and paramedics pulled up. They surveyed the scene. There was gas and other fluids dripping from both cars. Steam from the busted radiators rose into the sky. There was also another smell, the coppery smell of blood mixed in with the gas, oil, radiator and transmission fluids. Once the fire truck stopped, the firemen got out and some of them went to each car. The police officers started moving the onlookers and witnesses back a bit to give the firemen room to work.
The firemen started spraying foam around the cars to keep the chance of a fire breaking out to a lower level.
On the drunken driver's car, using the Halligan Bar and the hydraulic spreaders, known as the Jaws of Life, they popped the door open. At the same time another fireman was cutting the roof off, to make it easier to get to the driver. On the other side of the car, they worked on popping the door as well so that they could position a ram to push the dashboard back away from the driver once they had the steering wheel cut away from his chest. Once the car was peeled back the paramedics moved in. They put a C-collar on him and started checking him over. They paid particular attention to his chest. One of the paramedics felt the driver's chest gently before turning to his partner.
"We've got a flail chest here. We need to get this guy out of here quick, or he's not going to make it."
His partner nodded and reported that information to the hospital over the radio, followed quickly by his vitals. They called to the fireman to help them get the guy out and onto a gurney, because he had to get to the hospital now. It took the two paramedics and three firemen to get him on the backboard and onto the gurney so that they could load him in the ambulance.
At the other car, the firemen quickly used some stabilization struts to support the car. Once they were sure it was stabilized, they broke out the back window and the paramedics crawled inside. They took in the scene. The woman was hanging limply in the seatbelt. The younger boy was lying against the passenger window, still held in place by the seatbelt. Both were unconscious, and bloody. Christine was much worse since she had been on the side of the car that was hit. The paramedics put a blanket over both of them and they signaled for the firemen to break the front windshield in so that they could work at them from both sides. The fireman pulled the remains of the windshield toward them to get it out of the way. They next used cutters to cut the steering wheel and parts of the dashboard away to get to the woman.
Once they had everything out of the way, they checked both of them. Jamie's pulse was strong. Christine's pulse was weak, so they concentrated on getting her out first. They called for a backboard while they put a cervical collar on her to support her neck and head. The backboard was brought in through the front and positioned under her. Once they were ready, they cut the seatbelt and lowered her onto the backboard. They made their way carefully out of the car and laid the board on the gurney. While they got her situated on the gurney and started assessing her, one of the paramedics saw to Jamie. He positioned a cervical collar on him and called for another backboard. He cut the seatbelt that was holding Jamie in the seat and they carefully moved him onto the board and out the front of the car. They placed the board on the ground and the paramedic got to work. The paramedic started by cutting Jamie's clothes off so that he could check him out more easily. The others were loading Kathy into the ambulance, since she was in critical condition and getting her on the way to the hospital was urgent. The ambulance with the other driver had already left. The paramedic got an IV started and checked Jamie over. He saw that other than some minor cuts and scrapes he looked okay, except for him being unconscious. A few minutes later another ambulance pulled up. The EMT's brought the gurney over quickly and they loaded Jamie's backboard onto it and got him loaded into the ambulance.
As they neared the hospital, Jamie started groaning and moving around a little. His eyes fluttered and then opened. He opened and closed his eyes a few times before he could focus. He looked around trying to get his bearings and figure out where he was.
"Hey buddy, how're you feeling?
"You were in a car accident. Now, what's your name?"
The paramedic wrote that down on his clipboard.
"How old are you Jamie?"
He made some more notes before taking his vitals and making some more notations on the form on his clipboard. He looked up when Jamie asked him a question.
"Where's my mom?"
He looked up.
"She's in another ambulance ahead of us. She's probably at the hospital by now."
"Will she be okay?"
"I'm sorry, I don't know. We got to the scene just as the other ambulance was leaving. So I don't know the condition of anyone else that was involved in the accident. How are you feeling? Does it hurt anywhere?"
"I'm kinda sore all over."
"Sore. Any place sorer than others?"
"No, not really, just sore all over."
Jamie turned his head and silently looked at the roof of the ambulance. He was very worried about his mom. He ached all over, but he didn't really hurt anywhere. He figured his mom probably was about the same as him. If he wasn't too badly hurt, then maybe she wasn't either.
They soon pulled up to the emergency entrance to Hemet Valley Medical Center. The EMT's got Jamie out of the ambulance and wheeled him inside. As they entered a nurse met them and the EMT relayed his information to her which she wrote down on a clipboard she was holding.
"Where do we go?'
"Take him to four."
They wheeled him into a curtained off area and transferred him from the gurney to the bed.
The doctor came in and started giving some orders. "Let's get a chest x-ray, pelvis, and a c-spine, also a CBC and a Chem 7."
While he gave the orders he shined a light in Jamie's eyes and listened to his heartbeat and breathing. Another nurse took his blood pressure and pulse. As each check was done, the person doing it called out the readings. Jamie was hooked up to other pieces of equipment as well.
"Pulse 78, BP 110 over 70, respirations 20, Sat's are normal, Temp's normal."
Right after those readings were done an x-ray technologist came in the room with his portable x-ray machine. He started doing his job taking the images that the doctor ordered. The others moved back each time he took an x-ray. Once he was done the others moved back in and continued to work on Jamie. He was overwhelmed by everything that was going on around him. A few minutes later one of the nurses came over and took the cervical collar off of him and they got the hard board out from under him as well. After half an hour, things started to calm down and the doctor came over to him.
"Well young man, it looks like other than some minor cuts, bumps, bruises and scrapes, you're going to be okay. Do you have a headache, doubled or blurry vision?"
"Good. You're going to be just fine."
"Sir, how's my mom?"
Jamie nodded his head.
"I don't know. Do you want me to find out for you?"
"Yes, sir, if you would."
The doctor patted him on the arm and walked over to the nursing station. He talked to the nurse for a minute or so before he went back to Jamie's side.
"Your mom was airlifted to Riverside County Regional Hospital. They say that she was hurt worse than you, but don't worry, they'll take good care of her over there. If I hear anything I'll let you know. Until then, we're going to keep you here overnight, to make sure everything is okay before we let you go home."
Jamie nodded and the doctor walked away. He was there for another hour before they took him to a room. There was another bed in the room, but it was empty. A nurse came in the room.
"Hi, I'm Brenda, your nurse. If you need anything, just press the button here and I'll come and help you, okay?"
"Have you heard anything about my mom?"
"No, is she here with you?"
"No, they said she was taken to a different hospital."
"Well, I'll try to find out anything that I can, but for now, I'd like you to try to get some rest now."
She left the room. Jamie moved carefully onto his side, because it felt like every muscle in his body was sore. It was some time before he finally was able to fall into a fitful sleep.