Today is the Anniversary of the day I almost died.
Eight years ago tonight, and around 7PM, I was hit head on by a drunk driver. Someone I knew. Someone who was friends with my parents, someone who also grew up in this community. Someone who in his drink and drug induced stupor, was stupid enough to pass slow traffic on the River Rd. on a blind corner at 6o mph.
My folks were on a trip to visit a sick friend when they got the news, that I had been in a serious car wreck. This day is also their Wedding Anniversary, they were married Sept 12, 1964. (Happy Anniversary!!!
This is a letter that my Dad wrote to a good Samaritan that helped them out that night.
Friends Have NO Boundaries
Mr. Willy Frisse,
Langley B.C. Canada
I The only way I know of thanking you again is to write you this short story of Sept 12th 2001. and hope you are doing well.
On Sept 11th 2001 we awoke with our two dogs, Nancy and I excited about going to the coast to celebrate our birthdays and on the 12th, our Anniversary. (our birthdays are both in Sept.)
Excited about getting away we awoke and turned on the television and set to ABC just in time to catch he second airliner strike the tower, we were like all Americans, devastated, so instead of packing the motorhome for our 37th Anniversary amongst tears and awe that this could happen we looked at each other and set off our trip for another time.
Story unfolding, much like everyone in the world we wen on with life for another year until the morning of the 12th of Sept. or 38th anniversary, we packed up the motorhome and left home for the 3 1/2 hour trip to the Quinalt Indian reservation Casino just north a Aberdeen Wa, on hwy 101.
Our plan was to stay in the lot at the casino and gamble and have dinner and enjoy ourselves. The next morning go north up 101 and visit my friend Bud, who had liver cancer. We were there probably 7 o'clock PM set down to our Anniversary dinner about 8 o'clock. then hand and hand we walked back to the casino, I started playing and h=we heard a lady on the microphone say would Cliff and Nacny P*&^%$# please come to the cashiers desk. Nancy was beside me watching so she went, when she returned my hear dropped, my youngest daughter knew we were going to see Bud do she went thru our home, found a key to our store, she checked my daily calender, found Bud's phone number. Bud was on the other end, said she had called and if he knew where we were would he please get ahold of us. Our older daughter Pam was hit head on, on a notorious river rd here in Washougal is just 20 miles east in the columbia gorge from Portland on the Wa. side of the river. He said she was still in the vehicle and would take a couple of hrs to get her out. Quoting my grandson John "Grandpa we had maybe 2 seconds, no only 1 and mom turned the bronco into the guard rail this truck hit us head on and I saw it fly right over us" John was fortunate, minor bruises and small laceration, but his mother was not so lucky. John stayed in that truck with his mother unconscious and did not leave until the life flight crew came to do their job. They are wonderful. as it turned out it took 1:45 min to cut her from the bronco driver side was squashed flat pinning her in.
Bud expressed his condolences and told us head straight for the hospital in Portland, so away we went. It was dark getting late about 10:00pm and hardly no one on the road dropping south thru Aberdeen we went as quickly as possible on the east side of Aberdeen Nancys cell phone rang and it was Rick, Pamelas husband, he had just left Washougal and was on the way to the hospital, so we knew nothing more. We rode along in silance east to I-5 where we would turn south to Portland Or.
We hardly spoke, my dog Ginger came up beside me knowing something wasnt right placing her head on my leg, she was warm. In troubled times I feel comfort in saying the Lords prayer so I spoke silently to myself not being too out spoken with prayer but I repeated it twice just to hear the words meanings.
We were about 12 miles from the I-5 freeway south to Portland and our fan belt broke! Knowing I could drive just on the battery, but not long with lights on, we reached I-5 pulled into a service station and asked about finding a fan belt, the attendant said either 30 miles north to Olympia or South to Chehalis WalMart, they are open 24 hrs.
So away we went it was about 11 miles and reaching their the lights were getting dim, we pulled into the lot and saw about a dozen cars and at the end of the lot were 3-4 motorhomes. I pulled down toward them just for security purposes and told Nancy stay by the phone and I will hook up the battery charger to the motorhome and start the generator before I go in. I didnt think they would have one or ever sell them. I was under the hood of the coach and I heard this voice "looks like you are having problems, can I help your?" this gentleman small in stature introduced himself as Willy with a combo English and Canadian accent, which I believe he said he was. I told Willy of our dilemma and putting the charger on, for I may have to drive to Portland like that. Away we strolled side by side into WalMart letting me know he had tools if I needed them. I thanked him and away I went and was right about no belts, talked to the locals and they all said Portland or Long View, Wa.
A bit depressed and tired I went back to the motorhome and looking past my coach I saw an older dodge motorhome and coming across the lot came Willy walking with him was his wife, Willy was carrying a tool box in one hand and a flashlight and fan belt in the other. Seeing he drove a dodge and mine a gmc and what I know about belts I had my doubts. Said he always carrys a spare fan belt, but didnt know if it would fit. I retrieved the broken one which I had the forthought to keep,, hand in hand we measured them side by side exactly and it was perfect!(Divine intervention?) or not it fit, with Willys help we were all set to go and by this time 12:00 midnight having heard nothing about Pamela were really worried. We said goodbye and Willy would not take a thing for the belt or help. he said "you just help someone else down the road as I have you" I assured him I would. He handed me this funny folding business card about retired no work no money to home no phone etc. I chuckled and left.
It was 2:20 AM when we pulled into Emanuel Legacy, found the emergency and first saw Pamela. She was severely injured, broken, bruised and some bleeding from bruising of the brain in three spots. they kept her sedated for 3 days due to the severity of some of the bones it was easier to just keep her out to avoid lots of pain. 7 more days in the trauma unit and she could go home, luckily she has three great kids and a good husband. and the outpouring of love and help from so many people that know her was unbelievable doing well now and back to work, Pamela is a jolly personality and is very well respected where she works in Washougal, and will always great you with a smile!
I am writing this long overdue letter to a Friend, Willy Frisse of Langly B.C. Canada who took time that dramatic night on our 38th Anniversary.
There is so much more to this story but not for the help of Mr. Willy Frisse I knew it would have been much more dramatic, to help out a complete stranger on surely is a FRIEND in deed.
Cliff and Nancy P.
P.S. No one knows where or when you will meet a friend, or how long it takes to become a friend? I say it could be one kind deed, and again after watching how the Canadians helped us with the air traffic on 9-11 rallying to the planes of people that couldnt land in the United States. Helping to feed and house them and in some instances even drive them home! I was pleased one took the time and effort to help us. Too many times people just dont want to get involved. The only thing Willy asked was that I help someone else, and that would be payment enough for him.
My friend Bud passed away three weeks later without seeing him again, I did call and let him know Pam would be ok and he was very pleased. Bud was a very well respected alcohol and drug abuse councilor, in Aberdeen Wa. and was a very kind friend.
Willy thank you again from the bottom of our hearts, and hope its all right to call you our friend.
This is in my Dads words, I have a copy of this letter put away.
On this day after the Anniversary of 9-11 and 8 years after my auto wreck, I dont call it an accident.
Take care to always appreciate what is around you, and that stranger who can become a friend so quickly in time of need. Tolerance of each other would go a long way in solving the worlds problems.
Love and Peace to all.
Thanks Dad, I love you.
(Unfortunately, my folks learned that Willy passed away a few years ago.)
11 hours ago