I lived in San Jose when I was growing up and My grandparents lived in Redding about a six hour drive north. Shortly after I got my driver’s license my mom decided it would be good for me to drive the family up to grandmas house for a holiday. I was happy to accept the assignment so we all loaded up in the sedan and off I drove. There was My Mom, my three sisters and myself.
Since we left about as the sun was setting planning to arrive at Grandmas about midnight the girls were in the back seat and they settled down to get some rest as I drove. My mother was riding shot gun and was getting pretty relaxed as well. I thought nothing about it and just keep driving, enjoying the experience of my first long distance drive.
As we passed Walnut creek I heard my mother snoring next to me and I just figured she was tired from her day at work. I continued our drive until we approached the bridge at Benicia. Nothing seemed to be a problem so I continued to drive and as we entered the bridge I felt a major jerk to the left and it was all I could do to keep the car heading straight forward scraping the center divider until I could bring it to a safe stop in the middle of the bridge.
Needless to say everyone was immediately awakened as we hit the center divider the first time. My mom after the initial start of being awakened suddenly. Snapped into gear and cautioned me to slow down slowly and not to worry about the car scrapping if it needed to be done.
After we finally came to a stop we couldn’t get out on the driver side because we were flush to the center Divider and there were cars rushing by on the right side so we were stuck in the car for the moment. I quickly turn the emergency flashers on so that oncoming cars would hopefully realize that there was a problem and not crash into us.
As we sat there wondering what would happen next we heard a vehicle pull up behind us and stop. It had a massive set of flashing lights so I figured it was either a cop or some other emergency vehicle. Seeing our situation, he announced on his speaker for us to stay in the car for a few minutes longer and he could make it safe for us to get out.
The tow truck driver set some emergency flashers behind us blocking the lane we were in and the next lane over as well. Then he pulled around front of us so he could hook us up to the trunk so he could tow us away. He then came and stood beside the car on the right and asked us to make our way out of the car and up to his tow truck. He then talked with my mom about where she wanted the car taken to. They agreed to tow it to the station on the other side of the bridge and drop us off there.
The tow truck driver worked for the towing service run by the bridge company to keep it clear of accidents and keep stalled cars out of the way of danger. He was authorized to tow off of the bridge only and then help them contact another service to finish the job. He then loaded us up and towed us off of the bridge.
While he was unloading us at the station he commented that we were lucky to have survived the accident as the left front upper ball joint had broken and the wheel had collapsed under the car. If we had not been against the center divider we would have most likely flipped over, at the speed we were driving.
My mother was able to get a hold of dad and he set off to rescue us and see what he could do about the car. When he arrived about an hour and a half later we were relaxing nicely and having a good story time about our adventure. MY first drive to grandmas house would have to wait for another time. Tonight we were headed back home again. After looking at the car, we left it behind until dad could get the right equipment to get it home and put it back together again. It would live to run again, at least until I totaled it out a couple of years later.