Another Pre-Thanksgiving Fatal Car Accident, Witnessed By A Reader

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I tend to write about mostly fun things on this site, but sometimes the world of cars isn’t all that fun. Sometimes, people die. One of my most-read articles is about that… about the day I drove past the aftermath of a fatal accident. It was very difficult to write, which is why I waited until 3 months after the crash to even attempt it. I had driven up to an accident a couple minutes after it happened, and saw a family who had just lost their father/husband and son/brother in an instant. The man’s body was still sticking out of the windshield. It was the day before Thanksgiving.

fatal accident i 81 chambersburg

That article, as tough as it was to write, ended up touching a lot of people. One of those was Michelle Widick Wade.

I don’t know Michelle, but she reached out to me to share her own story. Like mine, it happened right before Thanksgiving. Unlike mine, she saw it happen right in front of her.  Here’s her story, in her own words:


“I saw a man die Tuesday. His was several cars in front of me going about 75 mph down the interstate. I watched his car veer off the road, into the grass median and bounce down a ditch. There was debris and dust flying everywhere. The car hit the concrete post of the next overpass. It exploded and wrapped around the post.

It was surreal, slow motion even. I never realized quite how many thoughts can go through your mind in mere seconds. The person in front of me, who turned out to be a Pastor, also saw what happened and pulled over. I called 911 while he checked on the man in the car. The pastor shook his head, held his hand over the man and began praying. He said there was no pulse. nothing. He told me I should pray for this man’s family this holiday season.

Two officers pulled up, they were very young. One was dispatching help on his radio while the other went to the car. He began performing CPR on the man and after awhile was able to get a pulse. I watched him look at the man at one point and tell him he can’t try to talk right now, and to hang in there. The other officer got my information so they could get a statement of what happened and told me I could go.

When I walked to my car I turned around and almost took a picture of the wreck. Then I thought, why would I want to have a picture of such a tragedy? But as I drove off I realized the picture would have shown something else entirely. It would have shown the young officer doing his best to revive and keep the man alive until help came. As much as my heart willed him to be ok, it didn’t happen. He was pronounced dead at the scene. But if he had lived, I know it would have been because the officer knew his job, jumped in, and did what none of the 5 bystanders, including myself, even thought to try. I’m sure the vision of that man passing away in his hands won’t go away anytime soon for the young officer.

The reason I’m posting this is I wanted to share a few of the things I took away from this experience. The first is – and I know there is so much controversy about things right now – but I sometimes forget that officers do more than just write tickets and arrest people. This young officer has my utmost respect. I’m humbled. The second is, me and that man both woke up Tuesday morning and got in our cars to go somewhere. He never made it. he was only in his 40’s. He isn’t at Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve been counting my blessings today. Last, I don’t know if the man had a heart attack, was texting or maybe even drinking. Regardless – I haven’t worried about missing a text message while I’m driving since. I saw what I’m sure that man thought could never happen to him. Think about it.”


When Michelle reached out to me, she said, “I wrote you because I was so thankful you shared how you felt, it helped to not have all those feelings alone and wonder if I was feeling too much, too little…. It really did help.  Maybe you putting mine out there will help someone too.”

That’s what I’m hoping for. I don’t have any special knowledge or insight on this. But if posting about it will help somebody out there, then I’ll be thrilled to at least make a little bit of difference in somebody’s life.

Stay safe out there.