Windows Of Risk

wrecked S130, circa 1984In the wake of the tragic shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Giffords and many others last week, I was struck by the phrase “window of risk.” One of the doctors at the hospital where Congresswoman Giffords is being treated mentioned that she was stable but critical (I’m paraphrasing) and that she wouldn’t be out of the “window of risk” for the next 72 hours, in which her brain could swell. Back in 1984, I was in a very bad car accident with my mother, in her S130 280ZX when it lost control on the highway in heavy wind. The next 24 hours would be a window of risk for my mother and I.I can’t remember the accident itself, but do remember right before it. My mother could feel the car being pushed off the road and told me to hold on. I was in the back seat and could feel the car being blown around quite severely. I don’t remember what happened after that, but supposedly the car was pushed off into the grass where it rolled four times. My mother was sent through the windshield and I was (supposedly lucky to be) not wearing my seatbelt. I was ejected out of the hatch.

My mother sustained burns on her hands and a broken clavicle, scratches , and I had three skull fractures. The doctors didn’t think we’d make it through the night. That was our window of risk. They didn’t give us much of a chance to live. This was the early eighties, so I guess that’s sort of understandable. I guess we’re tough though, so we weren’t going to go down without a fight, and thanks to the efforts of the doctors and nurses, we made it through that. Hopefully, we’ll be able to say the same about the Congresswoman.

We were transferred to a better hospital and the following year, two of the three fractures in my head had healed. The third, they decided to cover with a plate that’s still in my head to this day. It makes for a really lumpy head, but at least I’ve survived.

According to some race car driver that my grandfather later spoke to about the accident, it was a lack of anti-sway bars that was the problem (I’m not sure if the S130 had them or not). I accepted this reasoning for a while, until I later learned more about suspensions and about how anti-sway bars don’t really do anything for a car traveling in a straight line. This bothered me for a while, but I later realized that the car was so wrecked, from the looks of it, that a definite cause will never be known for sure.

I’m not sure why I wanted to post about this other than I finally found and scanned the photograph of the wrecked Zed recently (seen above) and that phrase had me thinking about it. The really ironic part of this whole story is that today, I not only love cars, but Japanese cars especially. And, I can still appreciate the beauty of a well maintained or faithfully restored (heck even resto-rod or kyusha-style) S30 or S130 Z.

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