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The Death of an Audi

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 | Posted by John ONeill

audi_a4I usually reserve the Black Gate blog strictly for topics related to the genre.  I hope you can forgive a brief trespass on that tradition today, as I celebrate being alive.

This morning I was on IL-47, a single-lane country highway, heading south to Champaign, where I work as a software salesman. At approximately 10:32 a.m. I watched as a fully-loaded 18 wheeler in the northbound lane went into a lock-up to prevent a crash with a stopped car. The truck lost control and twisted across the center meridian until it fully occupied both his lane and mine, still coming very fast and leaving me without a lot of options.

I hit him doing slightly over 60 mph. I’d already gone off-road on the right shoulder, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a collision. The impact triggered four of my Audi’s airbags, including three I didn’t even know I had.  Seriously — there were airbags everywhere.

I took the hit on the driver side. It drove the chassis down into my left rear tire, immobilizing it and sending me into a 60-mph uncontrolled spin — past the truck and back onto the road, then deep into the shoulder on the right. Fortunately the road and the shoulder were both clear. I leveled about 120 feet of grass in a dead line.

I got out of the car without a scratch, for which I thank God, and German engineering.

I can’t say the same about my loyal car, which took a critical hit.  It took ten minutes with a chain and a tow truck just to get it back on the road, and I can’t say for sure if it will ever move under its own power again.

But today, I have absolutely no complaints. I’m just glad to be alive.  Alice and our three kids showed up in her van three hours later, and drove me home to St. Charles, where we went out to dinner and celebrated. I consider myself a very lucky man.

But tomorrow, I will miss my car.

58 Comments »

  1. Holy crap, John! Very glad you’re okay!

    Comment by marthawells - July 20, 2011 8:02 am

  2. Don’t know what to say. Wow. I am glad to know that you are okay.

    Comment by Jason T - July 20, 2011 8:12 am

  3. Scary, scary, scary.

    Glad you’re okay!

    Comment by pmcnamee67 - July 20, 2011 8:59 am

  4. As they say in SoCal: “Daaaaaammmmnnnn!”

    Glad you’re unscathed, John!

    Comment by John R. Fultz - July 20, 2011 9:26 am

  5. Wow. Scary stuff. Glad you’re okay, but I’ll turn down an empty hub-cap today for your heroic Audi.

    Comment by James Enge - July 20, 2011 9:34 am

  6. Frightening. But I’m happy to hear you’re all right!

    Comment by Matthew David Surridge - July 20, 2011 10:29 am

  7. I’m glad you’re okay. I said “thank God and the engineers” after seeing my unhurt wife’s totaled car, so I know where you’re coming from.

    Comment by Jeff Stehman - July 20, 2011 10:59 am

  8. Glad to hear you’ve unscathed John. I’m sorry the car didn’t fare as well.

    Comment by westkeith - July 20, 2011 11:05 am

  9. Wow, must be something in the water, my car was hit yesterday as well, although only the back bumper was destroyed. Glad you are ok, John, that one sounds scary!

    Comment by Scott Taylor - July 20, 2011 11:23 am

  10. Holy frijoles!

    That’s the thing about luxury cars: the best luxury you buy is survival. I hope you march the insurance check straight down to your Audi dealer.

    Comment by Jackson Kuhl - July 20, 2011 11:23 am

  11. Will go through the day with slightly sick feeling in stomach. Could be the heat. We’ll call it the heat. Jeez, John. What you gotta be RAMMIN’ into 18-wheelers for? We already KNOW you’re Superman.

    Probably we won’t see you tomorrow for the open mic. And you know what? That’s okay! Because at LEAST we won’t think, “Where’s John? I hope he’s not dead!”

    “Not dead,” I will tell them, with utmost solemnity. “Only in St. Charles.”

    Hope that effin (as Patty would say) truck had insurance.

    Comment by C.S.E. Cooney - July 20, 2011 11:44 am

  12. Glad you’re OK John. Make your next car a Mad Max special.

    Comment by Bill Ward - July 20, 2011 1:07 pm

  13. That’s scary stuff! Glad to hear you’re all right.

    Comment by Laurie Tom - July 20, 2011 1:24 pm

  14. And thus began the canonization of St. Audi of Chicago.

    Why on earth would you think this story doesn’t fit on a blog about Adventures in Fantasy? I’d say it was right in the wheelhouse.

    Comment by xdpaul - July 20, 2011 1:50 pm

  15. Your car’s earned its place in Valhalla. (But sure glad you didn’t have to go with it!)

    Comment by Chris Willrich - July 20, 2011 2:00 pm

  16. At the risk of sounding like I don’t care if you lived or died, I can’t help but wonder what BG would be like without you O’Neill…and the impact that would have on the mini-revival of Sword + Sorcery.

    Glad you survived with the ability and willingness to continue BG, I like your sense of direction.

    ( I hate Vampires more than you ).

    The realisation of your mortality ( don’t get that wrong, I just don’t think about you much as a person, not really ‘sorry’, just a cold fact ) makes me want to start writing again ( I did when I was growing up ), and get published in BG, so I can say ‘I’m an O’Neill era alumnus.’

    Anyways…I think I’ll have a coffee royale and one more than my usual 3 boxes of black russians to celebrate you and that teamster not getting reaped.

    Comment by RadiantAbyss - July 20, 2011 2:31 pm

  17. SHEESH!! So glad you’re ok Boss! It would have really sucked for me if dead people suddenly became a politically incorrect topic around here.

    Next time, take the Zepplin. I’ll make sure the boys get the beer cans and whip cream cleaned up. And a couple of days with the windows open should take care of that smell no problem.

    At least you’ll never find it getting clotheslined by an 18-wheeler.

    Glad all is well.

    Goth Chick

    PS: You DID pick up the check at dinner that night didn’t you?

    Comment by Sue Granquist - July 20, 2011 2:50 pm

  18. Thanks Martha!

    As I’ve been telling people all day, the accident has brought those things that really matter to me into crystal clear focus.

    Like my family. And my pulp collection. And my mint condition Bone action figures.

    And my loyal car. I still hope it pulls through!

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 3:13 pm

  19. Thanks Jason!

    I saw you called… I was at the Doctor’s this morning, and will try and call you later.

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 3:13 pm

  20. Much appreciated, pmcnamee67. Scary indeed!

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 3:15 pm

  21. Thank You, Mr. Fultz. I’m looking forward to seeing you again at WFC in November. I’ll have much to celebrate. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 3:17 pm

  22. >I’ll turn down an empty hub-cap today for your heroic Audi.

    LOL! Only James Enge could have written a line like that.

    Thanks, James.

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 3:18 pm

  23. Appreciate your comments, Matthew. You and me both. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 3:18 pm

  24. Jeff,

    > I said “thank God and the engineers” after seeing my unhurt wife’s totaled car, so I know where you’re coming from.

    I know what you mean! And wow – what happened to your poor wife?

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 3:19 pm

  25. Merci, westkeith. I still hope the insurance company won’t total the car. It’s only five years old, and I can’t afford to buy a new one. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 3:21 pm

  26. > Wow, must be something in the water, my car was hit yesterday as well, although only the
    > back bumper was destroyed.

    Holy cow — what happened, Scott?? Glad you’re okay!

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 3:22 pm

  27. > I hope you march the insurance check straight down to your Audi dealer.

    Hi Jackson,

    I’d love to. If that car didn’t save my life, it at least kept me out of a wheelchair. I have no idea what the book value of a 2006 Audi is, and I hope I don’t have to find out.

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 3:26 pm

  28. Hi C.S.E!

    Sorry I missed your call. You know, I had just finished talking to Howard, and tried to call you yesterday morning from the road at 10:15. The accident was only a few minutes later. I’m glad I wasn’t talking to you when it happened. :)

    And OF COURSE I’ll be at the Open Mic tomorrow. I have some copies of BG 15 to bring, and a copy of THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY 2011 I promised to bring you.

    Alice is even loaning me her van to make sure I get there. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 3:31 pm

  29. > Make your next car a Mad Max special.

    Ha! That made me laugh, Bill. That’s the only thing that could really replace my car, I think. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 3:32 pm

  30. > Glad to hear you’re all right.

    Thank you, Laurie. All I have is a bit of sunburn, from waiting at the side of the road for the tow truck. Yesterday was not a day to complain, that’s for sure.

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 3:34 pm

  31. > Why on earth would you think this story doesn’t fit on a blog about Adventures in
    > Fantasy? I’d say it was right in the wheelhouse.

    Well said, xdpaul. It even has a hero who died at the end! I hope I can resurrect my car for the sequel.

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 3:35 pm

  32. > Your car’s earned its place in Valhalla.

    Thank you, Chris. I like to picture it there, right next to the getaway car in The French Connection.

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 3:36 pm

  33. > makes me want to start writing again ( I did when I was growing up ), and get
    > published in BG, so I can say ‘I’m an O’Neill era alumnus.’

    It’s touching to hear you say that, Radiant. And I hope you do.

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 3:37 pm

  34. > Next time, take the Zepplin. I’ll make sure the boys get the beer cans and whip cream cleaned up.

    Good advice, Sue. But that clumsy thing never did handle anything like my Audi. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 3:38 pm

  35. Alfred! You needn’t bring a YEAR’S BEST, because at ReaderCon? This guy at the table where they were selling it? GAVE ME MY TWO CONTRIBUTOR COPIES!!! WHUHOOO!!!

    Anyway, we’ll all be SO GLAD TO SEE YOU!!!

    Comment by C.S.E. Cooney - July 20, 2011 4:01 pm

  36. Not a scratch?! Remarkable. Glad you are ok.

    Comment by Tyr - July 20, 2011 6:43 pm

  37. Wasn’t it Spielberg’s first little film called WHITE LINE, or something like that, where the truck kept dogging this guy in his car all over the place, ramming him over and over on the highway? Sounds like John was acting out that movie but without the special effects guys. VBG

    Seriously, John, VERY glad you’re okay. But no acting out any more Spielberg movies, okay? (At least not in a frickin’ Audi for chrissakes!)

    Comment by Dave T - July 20, 2011 8:24 pm

  38. John, happy to hear you’re ok and glad your Audi had all those airbags you didn’t know about!

    Comment by Kerstan Szczepanski - July 20, 2011 8:43 pm

  39. Claire… you got TWO copies? In that case, can I have one? :’)

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 9:58 pm

  40. Thanks Tyr! Yeah, remarkable. The kind of thing I’ll be reliving in my mind for a long time (if the last 24 hours have been any indication).

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 9:59 pm

  41. Dave — LOL! You’re right. But I think it was called DUEL. Starring Dennis Weaver, right?

    I may never be able to watch that movie again. :)

    And thanks for the warm wishes, my friend.

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 10:00 pm

  42. Thanks, Kerstan! Yeah, it was like Christmas in my dashboard.

    Comment by John ONeill - July 20, 2011 10:00 pm

  43. Glad you’re ok!

    Comment by Mary - July 21, 2011 12:13 am

  44. Thanks Mary!!

    Comment by John ONeill - July 21, 2011 1:11 am

  45. Phew! And thank goodness…

    Comment by peadarog - July 21, 2011 5:14 am

  46. > I know what you mean! And wow – what happened to your poor wife?

    Rear-ended in a hit-n-run. She saw him coming just before he hit and started evasive maneuvers. When the tow-truck driver showed up he said, “Cool! How’d you get it there?”

    “That’s where it came to a stop.”

    “Cool!!”

    Comment by Jeff Stehman - July 21, 2011 7:29 am

  47. Do you remember that Amazing Stories mini-movie about the B-17 bomber crew during WWII who couldn’t get the landing gear down or the ball turret gunner out and how were going to have to crush him just to crash land, but fortunately he was a cartoonist?

    I picture the Audi performing such a Spielbergian miracle with the airbags and such.

    Obviously, I’ve been thinking about you since yesterday. Good news is worth revisiting.

    Comment by xdpaul - July 21, 2011 1:21 pm

  48. Glad you came through that unscathed, John.

    I thought my SO had a close shave when a semi cab flew through the air and landed right in front of his pickup. But he wasn’t actually hit (or vice-versa).

    Take care.

    Comment by Cynthia Ward - July 21, 2011 3:43 pm

  49. Ah, good to see you saw my calls John. I’d hate to think of your poor phone totaled by the insurance company. That’s nigh irreplaceable. 😉 Well wishes my friend!

    Comment by Jason M. Waltz - July 21, 2011 5:59 pm

  50. Great to hear you’re all right. The Germans sure know how to design safety features.

    Comment by Ryan Harvey - July 21, 2011 8:14 pm

  51. Thanks Peadar!

    It’s been a few days now, and I’ve been able to look back on the accident with more perspective… and I STILL think “Damn, how did I live through that?” :)

    Comment by John ONeill - July 24, 2011 2:00 am

  52. Jeff,

    Wow! Where did her car end up??

    Comment by John ONeill - July 24, 2011 2:01 am

  53. > I picture the Audi performing such a Spielbergian miracle with the airbags and such.

    Ha! It’s been a long time since I’ve thought of that movie… nice to think of it again in this context. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - July 24, 2011 2:02 am

  54. > I thought my SO had a close shave when a semi cab flew through the air and landed right in front of his pickup.

    Holy COW. Really?? I need more details than that… I have a morbid interest in close calls this week!

    Comment by John ONeill - July 24, 2011 2:02 am

  55. > I’d hate to think of your poor phone totaled by the insurance company.

    Thanks, Jason… although my phone is on the verge of death as it is. It’s four years old, and I think that’s the limit for cell phones these days. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - July 24, 2011 2:03 am

  56. > Great to hear you’re all right. The Germans sure know how to design safety features.

    Thanks, Ryan. I hope to get another Audi, for sure. I’m just not sure I can afford a new one this time. :(

    Comment by John ONeill - July 24, 2011 2:04 am

  57. Wow, I miss all the big news. So glad you’re all right.

    I guess it’ll be a while before you have to have a back issue sale. Oh, unless you get a bigger car and need to make more garage space post (as it were) haste.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - August 3, 2011 9:38 pm

  58. […] Alice wanted her minivan home, and until I buy a new car (following the death of my beloved Audi), my evening excursions are more limited than I might […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » Gary Con IV Report - March 26, 2012 2:18 am


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