Column: Jesus, take the wheel


The Maroon



When I was driving back home from a night with friends on Friday, Sept. 20, the thought of a drunk driver totaling my car was never even a possibility in my mind.

It was around 11:30 p.m. when I found myself driving my car across the Crescent City Connection in the middle lane toward my home on the Westbank.

I had just crossed the river when I noticed the car in front of me suddenly swerve to the right side of the bridge. The car hit the wall, causing sparks to fly into the air, and swerved back to the center of the bridge and into my car.

I think it is a touch ironic that a drunk driver hit a reporter who covers New Orleans crime.

I know it’s bit cliché to say, but it all happened really fast. I hit my brakes and tried to veer away from the car, but it hit the driver’s side.

When it happened, my mind blanked out for a couple of seconds. I remember bouncing from the impact, being hit by the airbag and seeing glass shatter inside my car.

As soon as I got out of my car, I could hear the other driver yelling at me. She was saying that the accident was my fault.

I think my adrenaline was already flowing through me, because I was fairly calm while trying to explain to the woman that it was not my fault. But she would not hear any of it and kept screaming, even as I was talking to a police dispatcher.

I could tell the woman was drunk, because when she asked to use my cell phone to call “her girl” about her truck, she dialed numbers and deleted them immediately, like she had trouble remembering what the number was. That fact that she was stumbling on her words did not help either.

When the police got there, my adrenaline was slowly replaced with fear. I had never been in this kind of situation before, so I soon turned into an emotional wreck.

I had lost my first car, and I thought that I could have easily died if the accident was worse than it was. I was very thankful that an ambulance worker was there to help calm me down.

I called my mother to come get me off the bridge, and we went to the Crescent City Connection Administration building to fill out the police report together. While we were there, we saw an officer give the woman a field sobriety test. From what I could see, it looked like the invisible line she was walking on was moving all over the ground.

It was about 2 a.m. when my mother and I headed back home. I got out of the accident with nothing more than a few bruises and some chest pain from the air bag.

I am truly thankful that nothing worse happened that night. My only hope is that people who are enjoying the city’s reputation of drinking and relaxed attitudes take others into consideration.

On our way home, my mother jokingly asked me if I would take the song “Jesus, Take The Wheel” more seriously to cheer me up.

After that experience, I think I very well might.

Burke Bischoff is a mass communications junior and a staff writer for The Maroon. He can be reached at [email protected]