Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)


October 6, 2013

Keith Kappes: Running into an old friend: 10/7/13

MOREHEAD — It was a beautiful summer afternoon with blue skies, bright sunshine and temperature in the high 70s.

As I drove toward my office after a business luncheon, traffic was relatively light on the five-lane street.

I noticed a vehicle slowing in the inside lane as I approached in the outside lane.

Just as I began to pass the slower car in the other lane, something white came suddenly into my path and I struck it broadside, bounced off and onto the sidewalk.

It seemed like I was in slow motion as the airbag deployed and my vehicle moved slowly toward a large concrete pillar.

I struck the pillar dead center and watched my car’s hood and grille roll up like an accordion.

The impact threw my chest against the steering wheel, now unprotected with the airbag deflated.

Stunned, I sat quietly, trying to get my bearings.  

The other car was nearby and I recognized the driver as an old friend, Bill Baldridge. His head was down and his eyes were closed.

Knowing he had a history of heart problems, I feared the worst. I told the EMTs to go to him first.

Suddenly, I noticed smoke coming from under the dashboard. Expecting a fire, I opened my door to stand on the curbside.

Almost immediately, I realized standing up was not a smart move. I could have a serious head or neck injury.

I dropped back into the seat as someone reached inside the car to stabilize my head and neck with their hands.

Seconds later, they were fitting me with a cervical collar. Someone asked if I needed to go to the hospital.

I said “yes” and moments later I was pulled out of the car, placed carefully onto a backboard and then onto a gurney and into an ambulance with my head and neck secured to the board.

My only field of vision was straight up and the first face I recognized looking down at me was John Northcutt, the Rowan County coroner.

Could I be hurt worse than I suspected? Then John smiled and I realized he was there as a firefighter.

Later, in the emergency room, I got to talk with Coach Baldridge, who also escaped serious injury in the accident.

We agreed the Lord had blessed us both with good luck, skilled first responders and a great hospital, not to mention airbags and seat belts.

Surely there is an easier way of bumping into an old friend.

KEITH KAPPES is publisher of The Morehead News and the Grayson Journal-Times.


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