Driving is something we often consider to be a source of freedom. We can get out on the open road and drive wherever we feel like going. Though, it shouldn't be lost on people that a machine surrounds you and it's a machine capable of doing very serious damage if you're not careful. Here, we look at stories from people who saw gruesome accidents.
Comments have been edited for clarity.
"The worst thing I experienced was a car accident.
A friend and I were going down a back road and an erratic driver in a big Ford F450, who had been drinking, hit our sedan going about 55 mph. The driver of the truck proceeded to watch my best friend get ejected from our car, so he backed up and drove away. He turned himself in a few days later. He spent 15 months in prison for killing my best friend, who was only 18 at the time and just about to graduate high school and go to college on a full ride. My best friend had OnStar, which called the ambulance. I walked away with glass in my face and cuts and bruises. My best friend suffered from a plethora of broken bones and a bunch of ruptured organs. He died before the ambulance could get there.
I watched him die. He was awake and talked to me for what the paramedics estimated was three to four minutes."
"When my uncle was in his mid-to-late-teens, he and his friends desperately wanted motorcycles. He begged my grandfather for weeks and weeks to get one for his 18th birthday, but my grandfather never gave in. Several weeks before my uncle's 18th birthday, my grandfather, who was the sole police officer in a small town woke up my uncle, traveled to his friend's houses, woke them up, put them in the cop car, and took them out a back road.
When they arrived there was an ambulance, another cop car, and some bystanders already there. They got out of the car and wandered over to a paddock where there was the body of a young motorcyclist who had been traveling down a dirt track in the dark at over 150 mph, had come to a T-intersection, gone straight through it, and hit the fence. The piece of wire that hit him was straight across his neck and, well, you can imagine what happened to him. My grandfather took them over to the scene and told them that this is what can happen if you do not respect a motorcycle, and that is what he should be prepared for if he wants one.
None of them ever got a motorcycle."
"In India, I was in a car and we heard a crash. Ten seconds later, we drove by one of those tube-shaped trucks that carry gasoline, flipped on its side and leaking gasoline all over the road and down into the ditch. There were apparently people riding on top of the truck (villagers hitching a ride), and a few of them were laying in the pool of gas with their blood mixing in it.
Our driver sped out of there since it was a huge leaking tank of gas. We got about half a kilometer away when the road behind us burst into flame. It was more of a fireball than an explosion and the road behind us was all up in flame. We stopped and watched for about 10 minutes, with the weird knowledge that those people we passed were suffering.
I felt bad for the first few days every time I remembered it, but if we stayed and dragged them into the car we'd likely have been in the fireball as well."
"About seven years ago, I was driving home from having a coffee sometime later in the evening. There was a man riding his bike on a narrow sidewalk on a bridge.
The city bus in front of me, doing about 40 mph clipped the back of the guy's head with the extended mirrors that overhang the side of the bus by about two feet. The guy fell off his bike and was run over by the bus - and almost hit again by me.
I screeched to a stop, nearly getting rear-ended in the process, and blocked the lane where the guy was laying. Then, of course, a bunch of other people came and started to move the guy, etc. Knowing he had a possible neck injury, I pushed everyone away and waited for the ambulance to arrive.
His glasses were smashed into his eyes, and his breathing sounded like he was dying. I removed his glasses for him at least, and the EMTs took care of the rest upon their arrival.
Not sure how he ended up, but that's the only accident I've ever witnessed first hand. His laborious breaths and rattles are something I can never unsee, and had dreams about for some time after."
"I never personally saw or was involved in an accident, but I used to work at an auto body shop, so I saw my share of cars coming in post-accident. Everyone involved in the accident was fine, I guess the motorcyclist got a ticket and quite a few stitches.
There are two that I remember the most. The first was a car that came in with a smashed windshield. What had happened was a motorcyclist was cutting through parked cars in a parking lot and got blindsided by a car. He wasn't wearing a helmet so the windshield had bits of blood, hair, and skull in it.
The second one I remember was probably the worst thing I've ever seen in real life. A truck was driving, and like a scene out of 'Final Destination,' lost one of the beams they were carrying. The beam fell into the car behind it and hit the driver. There was a lot of blood and bone inside the car. I never found out what happened to the driver or whether or not he made it.
On a lighter note, another car we got involved a family going to a holiday dinner with a bowl of chili. They got into an accident, so before we could fix the truck I had to clean out the chili/blood combo. There were no serious injuries. I think the blood came from the guy's nose."
"I was on a bus traveling at about 60 mph when another guy in the opposing lane cut into our lane and started accelerating towards us.
We thought he was just passing the car in front of him, but soon it became apparent that he had no intention of moving back into his own lane. He continued to accelerate towards us and the bus driver slammed on the brake and swerved, but it was no good.
The impact of the car on the bus was substantial, but not enough to have a dangerous effect on anyone on the bus. Luckily for us, the weight of the bus against the weight of the car meant that the bus absorbed most of the impact. Unfortunately, the driver of the car wasn't so lucky. He was crushed and killed instantly as the front of the car wedged and crushed under the front of the bus, with the top of the car folded up in front of the bus's windshield.
That bus driver was visibly upset about it. He was shell-shocked after, talking to the cops he was clearly shaken. But to his credit, he was on top of the ball the whole time. The second after the crash, he undid his seatbelt and instructed everyone to get out the emergency exit at the back. He then grabbed a fire extinguisher and hopped out the normal bus door waiting in case it caught fire. After about a minute, he got back on the bus to make sure everyone was getting off.
That's the kind of thing that would live with you, and I'm sure it's still living with the bus driver. I hope he knows that it wasn't his fault. I was watching the entire thing unfold from before the point that the car pulled out into our lane, and his reaction times were perfect, and the safety of the passengers was paramount.
I'm glad that I didn't see the victim's body. I had read later that he worked in a local supermarket and he had a girlfriend with a 9-month-old son. I guess things were tough for him and he couldn't see any other way out of a life that he didn't want to live. There's no way to know, but it appeared to be too intentional to be anything but suicide."
"About seven months ago, a wasted driver hit me head on at midnight Friday the 13th.
He got a mild concussion. I got a broken left ankle, a broken right heel, which they could only use 20 percent of the bone to reconstruct, a shattered right kneecap, a snapped right femur, a broken right elbow, and a broken right-hand middle finger knuckle. I was in the ICU for two days, the hospital for two weeks, and on bed rest for two months. I'm now at FSU, walking around.
The other guy failed to tell his commanding officer and boarded a plane to Afghanistan. Our police refused to try and pull him back, stating that they would just get him later. But, my dad, ex-Air Force, called and they brought him back right away. He's on trial now, and he'll get mandatory prison time because a year ago he was arrested for disorderly conduct while under the influence and assault with great bodily harm.
He's only 24, I'm 18.
I almost missed my graduation, but I was wheeled across as the first person in line; I couldn't stay out of bed for longer than a couple hours because I was too tired and in pain. I'll have to get a full knee replacement inside of 20 years, and I may not be able to walk on uneven ground enough to get married on a beach like I've always wanted. Seriously, it may suck to call a cab or deal with the DD, but don't drink and drive. It ruins lives. I was lucky. Others are not."
"The worst accident I ever saw was when I was on a school bus going home and all of the sudden the bus stopped in the middle of the road. We looked outside and there was a car on fire. People were trying to get inside for some reason until we realized that there was a man pinned between the steering wheel and his seat. The bus couldn't move or back up because we were stuck in traffic. A bus full of middle school children watched a man perish."
"When I was maybe 8 or 9 years old, I saw something horrific.
My mother had picked me up from school and we were heading home on our bikes. Close to where I live, the road would go up a hill while turning slightly, making it hard to look and see if anyone was coming to you. That made it fatal when a young guy on a motorbike swerved and drove into the other lane and did a frontal collision with a bus. I remember him calling for his mother, while the bus driver tried to tend to the indescribable wounds and my mother holding her hands in front of my eyes, dragging me away.
I remember standing maybe 30 meters from it. I think I was a bit too young to comprehend the horror."
"One time I was riding my bike home from elementary school and saw an accident that haunts me to this day.
I was probably in the fourth or fifth grade. I was waiting to cross an intersection when a jacked-up Jeep took the turn too fast and rolled, pinning one of the occupants under the roll bar. I remember after it stopped it was silent for a few seconds and then the pinned lady began to scream. I rode away at that point, but to this day I can still hear her screams in my head."
"I saw a horrific accident four years ago.
Some friends and I were trick-or-treating near a friend's house, as we were sleeping over. As we were walking down one road towards a more major road, we heard a huge bang and screeching tires. We ran towards it, and there was a teenage guy laying in the road. He had gotten hit by a car, and the huge bang we heard was his head shattering the windshield of the car. Luckily there were a lot of people around, and the ambulance got there within a few minutes, but my friend told us later (she knew him from school) that he had sustained brain damage and couldn't go back to school. It was sad."
"I was once one of the first on the scene at a fatal accident.
A guy on prescription medication and other narcotics crossed the center line and smashed into two cars. The guy in the first car died at the scene and the girl in the second car was trapped in her car because the engine compartment had been crushed into her legs. The guy who caused the accident was standing against his van talking to bystanders. He only injured his wrist.
I found out the next day that the guy who had died was one of my best friend's girlfriend's dad and the guy who caused the accident had killed someone in an auto accident years before while driving under the influence."
"I almost got into an accident myself when I was driving down a hill in the rain.
The hill was nice and straight, not even that steep. Some idiot pulls up to a T-junction halfway down the hill, on my left (UK). I see he's indicating, so that means he's going to pull across my lane to go on the opposite side of the road, heading up the hill. I see him stop at the junction, look the other way (clear), look my way - look at me, eye contact and everything.
So I carry on, and he floors it and pulls out anyway.
I hammered on the brakes, skidded halfway down the hill while he sat there in my lane of traffic, blocking the entire road, wheel-spinning in his little car like an idiot. He gave it too much and just sat there making smoke.
So, a split second after I lose traction and my front wheel starts to skid (almost slow motion) out from under me, I see the side of the car coming towards me. I tried to turn myself shoulder first as the bike was sliding out from underneath me. Then I was skidding down the road. He'd pulled out of the way MILLISECONDS before I would've slammed into him side-on and probably head first.
You have probably never seen a 19-year-old screaming at a 40-year-old man twice his size, but it happened.
The bike was a write-off, not a major accident, but some people are just stupid. He even admitted that he'd seen me, but 'thought that he could make it.' In the rain, on a steep hill, pulling out in front of a motorcyclist! Ridiculous."
"I didn't see this particular accident, but I heard it.
I heard a motorcycle accelerating rapidly. My guess is that he was going 100 mph, give or take. All of a sudden, I heard a screech that lasted for mere milliseconds followed by a loud crash. An older person had been trying to get across the highway, and I guess they didn't see the motorcycle. The motorcyclist was thrown at least 50 feet away, probably more. The car did a 180. It was turned completely the opposite direction it had been going. The motorcyclist's helmet dug into his chest. I think we all know he did not survive."
"I have seen two, and they both involved motorcycles.
The first one witnessed was with my mother. We were driving down a major highway and a man on his bike was in the lane adjacent to ours. He was a good couple of feet in front of us and as far as I could tell, wasn't speeding. The particular highway we were on is notorious for being one of the most dangerous in my city because of its poor paving and construction. Anyway, the driver hits a rough patch in the road, loses control of his bike, and was thrown off while going 60 mph. He rolled across the highway, skidding against the bare pavement, and was then hit by a car who could not stop in time to avoid him or move without endangering others. He wasn't wearing a helmet so you can imagine the outcome.
The second one involved the biker being thrown over an overpass. My dad was in a terrible motorcycle accident three years ago. He survived but any positive thoughts I had towards motorcycles did not."
"My brother's teacher had a motorcycle story that ruined bikes for me.
Her husband was driving on the highway when this idiot on a motorcycle came by swerving around people and flipping off all the drivers. It is the typical jerk motorcycle that pops wheelies while going 75 or so. So, he flips off her husband, speeds by and pops a wheelie in front of a tractor-trailer. Just then a huge gust of wind lifts up his motorcycle.
Now that truck driver has to live with a body smashing into his grill at 75 mph."
"Back in 1979, I was in high school, hanging out in a parking lot talking to friends. I heard tires squeal and looked in time to see a BIG Oldsmobile T-bone a Jeep. All three occupants of the Jeep were thrown from the vehicle. Paramedics attending to one of the victims walked into the field and retrieved a leg severed at the knee. It still had a tube sock and tennis shoe on it. The paramedic casually tossed the leg into the ambulance with the victim. I found out later that this guy had lost a leg to cancer years earlier. It was a prosthetic."
"A few days before I graduated high school, I rolled my Bronco off the highway and into an irrigation ditch at 2 a.m. I came to a stop on the roof of my car.
After maneuvering to get out of my seat belt, I tried to open the door, but since the roof was smashed down into the dirt the door wouldn't open. The ignition (which had always been a bit tricky) was jammed and wouldn't turn off. I had just watched the film 'Crash' about a week prior, and I thought for sure my car was about to catch fire, and there wouldn't be a racist cop to save me. The electric controls for the windows weren't working. I kicked the door, got it open a few inches, squeezed out, and started running away from the car, which I genuinely thought was about to blow up. I managed to run right into a good samaritan who scared me. She then grabbed me by the shoulders and started shaking me and asking if I had been drinking (I hadn't).
Then I was crying, and so was she, and I called my dad to come get me. Surreal night. I loved that car."
"I had a bike accident when I was about 10 years old.
I was going down a steep busy street and they had just finished putting some type of pipes down the hill, so I was biking on rough gravel. The last thing I remembered was the handlebars shaking back and forth. I woke up in the hospital strapped down on a stretcher, couldn't move anything, and was freaking out. Apparently, I hit the front brake and flipped over the handlebars, smashing my face into the ground. I was lucky to be was wearing a helmet and the guy driving behind me in his truck stopped.
I ended up with a broken wrist, needed stitches on my chin, and had road rash all over my body. It was pretty scary to be completely strapped to a board and unable to move. It took a while to recognize my family."
"The worst accident I ever saw was when I was driving with my mom to her work so I could help her with some stuff.
When I looked over, the car driving next to us started to swerve. I noticed that the driver was on his cell phone, and I told my mum to switch to next lane over to be farther away from him. It proved to be a good idea because the driver suddenly swerved violently, and started spinning around knocking into a few cars, and then eventually spun into the ditch. The guy looked like he was laughing hysterically while he was spinning around.
Anyway, all the cars that he hit were either in the ditch or upside down on the road. I told my mom to stop the car. We looked back and noticed that the guy was being helped out the car. As soon as he was out, he stood up, straightened his shirt, and promptly punched the guy who helped him out of the car."