Last year it was hornets and bears. In the past it has been really sick kids, keys locked in the car, or prescription glasses lost in the ocean — only to appear after hours of looking for them on the face of an ornery son. It doesn’t always happen, but it seems that each year my wife and I take our family on vacation, as often as not we find some misadventure.
This year was no different.
There were 12 of us total ranging in age from 60 to 7 months, but in the vehicle my wife and I were in, there were four. We had been on the road for 13-plus hours, and were about 20 minutes from our destination of Tybee Island, Georgia. We were leisurely passing through downtown Savannah, Georgia when the chaos broke loose.
We were stopped behind traffic waiting for a signal to change when the serenity — and our hopes of soon arriving at the house we were to stay in — took a sudden change when a large Jeep-like vehicle plowed into the back our vehicle. The jolt knocked us forward several feet, and how I managed to avoid the car in front of us I do not know, but we missed it by less than a foot. So, after quickly collecting my scattered thoughts, I pulled over into a small nearby parking lot to get out of traffic, and the young man who hit us pulled in beside us on the right.
I have no problem admitting that I was shaken a bit, and suddenly in not such a good mood. So when the guy that hit us got out of his car and asked if we could just exchange information, I was having none of it. “No, we need to call the cops,” I said a little gruffly, since his comment instantly raised suspicion.
About that time a large white SUV pulled onto sidewalk next to where we were parked, just a few feet to the left of us. Inside were two men, trying to chase down a women, with one of the men yelling profanities about how he couldn’t help it that he was going to prison.
So while I was on one side of my wife’s new vehicle trying to keep us separated from the guys in the SUV — and trying to usher everyone back in our vehicle for protection — my wife was on the other side of our vehicle talking to the guy who hit us. When he asked a second time if we could just exchange information, I was already calling the police.
Around that time the SUV on our left pulled away. Then before I realized what was happening, the guy who hit us jumped back in his vehicle, quickly zipped around us and onto the sidewalk where the SUV had been, and was gone.
It all happened in a matter of seconds and about the only thing we could do was stand there in stunned disbelief.
About that time the Savannah police answered the phone. But just about the time I started talking to a dispatcher, I saw a police vehicle heading our way and frantically flagged him down — feeling rather foolish as I waved my arms back and forth while running toward his vehicle.
Thankfully, he saw me quickly and pulled over. After taking the basic information, he told us that he was actually from a neighboring jurisdiction, but would do what he could for us, since I had hung up on the dispatcher in my desperation to flag the other officer down.
After the officer figured out what had transpired, he contacted the Savannah police for us and said an officer would be on his way. But then he stuck around for several minutes, generally just shooting the breeze with us. Eventually he pointed to a nearby apartment complex, said there had a drive-by the past weekend there where nine people had been shot, and because of the neighborhood we were in, he’d stay with us until the Savannah officer arrived.
A bit later the Savannah officer arrived, kindly took care of all our issues, and sent us on our way. It was a stroke of luck that despite more than $3,000 in damage and the inability to open the back of our SUV where all the luggage was stored, all of our rear lights still worked.
Anyway, on our way we went. We had not traveled much more than a mile when we can to another stop light. As we were sitting there, a guy in a vehicle headed cross ways in front us pulled up to the light and threw his car in park. Cursing and yelling at a woman riding with him about some other man, he hopped out of the vehicle, screaming some more, and slammed a plastic bottle full of some beverage onto the road. The slam must not have relieved his aggravation enough, because he retrieved the bottle, took a few stops, and hurled a fastball into the side of an ambulance stopped in traffic.
By that time the chick with the guy had hopped in the driver’s seat and took off in his car. We had to move on with the traffic so I’m not sure how that episode turned out, but it did not look good for the guy who was left on the street without his vehicle and the ambulance driver staring him down.
Shortly thereafter we finally arrived at our destination. It was a very nice place and we had a wonderful seven days. Part of our plan before we left home was to spend one day checking out the sights in Savannah. After our fiasco, I was none to excited to head back there, but eventually we did and and that turned out nice, too.
The trip did not start well, but it turned out great. And despite a few early issues, at least we have another story to add to our list of vacation tales.
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at email@example.com or 837-402-2522.