The bridge on SC-20 heading toward Piedmont was icy, and the Jeep ahead of me braked and swerved. I had shifted down into third gear because I expected this, but my car started to swerve as well. I pumped my brakes and steered into the swerve and was able to regain enough control to stop about two feet from the Jeep’s bumper.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough reaction time to shift my manual transmission into neutral, so the engine stalled out on me, and it wouldn’t turn over right away. After 5 seconds or so (it seemed like an eternity) I got the engine started as two other cars started swerving behind me, and I heard a crash as one of them hit the guard rail. I needed to get off the bridge, so I carefully drove my car off the bridge and into the parking lot of an old antiques store far enough away from the road. I turned on my hazard flashers and walked back to see if anyone needed help, making sure to stay on the outside of the guard railing just in case.
Two cars had hit the railing–one of them had two younger (late-teens early 20s) girls. The younger girl was the driver, and she was shaking with nerves and not terribly responsive. The passenger had the window down. I yelled at her “are you ladies okay? Is the car drivable?” The car was drivable but the driver wasn’t in any condition to move the car off the icy bridge. I told the passenger to switch places and get the car off the bridge while I watched out for oncoming traffic. I stopped the traffic coming in both directions (thankfully there wasn’t much) until the passenger could drive their car over near where mine was parked. I got back on the safe side of the guard railing and walked back to check on them. Two other cars had pulled over as well.
The girls were okay. The younger driver was still shaking, but it was adrenaline; I was pretty sure she wasn’t in actual medical shock. The older girl (her sister) was on the phone trying to get in touch with the police. As you can imagine, the Greenville County Police Department was probably getting a lot of similar calls from all over the county. One of the other cars was the other one who hit the guard rail. He lived less than a mile from the site of the accident and called his wife–hers was the last car pulled over.
I spent around ten minutes with them making sure everyone was okay and that the police were on the way. I asked if they wanted me to stay with them until the police got there and was told that wouldn’t be necessary, so I drove the rest of the way home slowly and nervously. I’m now sitting comfortably in my bedroom about to have a cup of tea. I was only wobbly once I got out of my car at home for about five minutes.
Be careful out there people!