I went out for a ride around Lake Washington today. Somewhere around the southeast side of the Lake, the bike trail runs down along the west side of Highway 405. The highway is about twenty or thirty feet above the trail, and a grassy hill slopes down from the highway wall to the trail. To the other side of the trail is a chain link fence.
Both ends of the trail are blocked by short cement pillars that let walkers and cyclists through and keep cars out. So it was with some surprise that as I turned a corner, an old red sports car was sitting in the path, sideways, blocking the route. I stopped and stared like an idiot, my brain still on screen saver from the thirty odd miles it had ridden as a passenger.
Only after a few seconds did I realize that the car had crashed through the barrier to the side of the highway, rolled down the grassy hill, and crashed into the chain link fence. The car looked surprisingly good; the hood was just slightly ajar, as if the car was trying to whisper something in its stupor.
And a few seconds later, I heard a voice from the other side of the car (I was facing the passenger door of the car). I went around the trunk of the car through the grass and saw a man kneeling over a woman who was lying on the path, her face bloody. She had hit her face on the steering wheel and was bleeding from a cut in her upper lip. After the crash, she had crawled out of the car and collapsed on the ground.
Someone had already called 911 and was standing up above on the highway to mark the spot of the accident for the paramedics. Bikers riding the trail began accumulating at the site of the accident. The driver lay very still, in a bit of shock, and she kept asking how bad her face looked. Everyone reassured the woman that she was fine. Someone grabbed a fleece from her car and folded it to place under her head as a cushion. Her car, an old Nissan, didn't have airbags or she probably would have gotten off scratch-free. As it was, fortunately the grass slowed her car's descent, and the give in the chain link fence cushioned the blow.
I left after the paramedics arrived, so I have no idea what caused her to fly off the highway. I have no idea how they got the car off the path, either, if they have at all. If I had arrived at that point in the trail just a few minutes earlier, I might have seen a car come flying down from the sky to crash into the fence in front of me, or even worse, been driven into the fence by a three thousand pound car. It was one of the few times this season I've been glad to be so out of shape and slow on the bike.