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It could have been worse...much worse

My day started on Wednesday, Feb. 3, with the news St. Croix Central would be two hours late as a result of the snowstorm the night before.

I thought that would be the main news of my day.

How wrong I was.

After allowing the kids to sleep in, I dropped them at school and was on my way to work here at The News.

I remember turning at the roundabout by Ready Randy’s and going on the straightaway thinking this would be just like any other day.

Throughout my drive I was thinking that even though it snowed, the roads looked clear.

Then, in a flash, everything changed.

The next thing I know I’m starting to spin and tried to steer out of it, but I knew it was a battle I wasn’t going to win.

The momentum then carried the vehicle into the ditch where it rolled.

After a couple of seconds of collecting my bearings and realizing, ‘hey, I’m still OK,’ my vehicle then gets smacked by another vehicle in the front passenger side.

All of a sudden, I hear a voice and turn around and see footsteps in the ditch, I scream ‘I’m OK,’ but he doesn’t hear it. After a couple of attempts, I was able to unbuckle my seatbelt and tried getting out the front passenger side door, but it doesn’t work.

The guy was then able to open the rear driver’s seat and helped me out of my vehicle. When taking my first couple of steps, to say I was woozy was an understatement. I’m helped to the other vehicle in the ditch and all I can think of is, where’s my phone (maybe’s that a reflection on today’s society, but I knew I had to make a couple of phone calls).

In the interim, law enforcement and medical personnel arrived on scene, making me think, “Holy crap, that was fast.”

Due to my lightheadedness, dizziness and adrenaline kicking in, it was strongly recommended I go to the ambulance for further treatment. I get in there and for precautionary purposes they put me in a neck brace.

Questions such as, ‘what’s your name? Where were you going? What is today?’ and so forth were being asked to me. I answer their questions and tell them I recall everything about what happened.

When I told them I work for The News, a St. Croix County sheriff’s deputy told me, they saw someone there taking pictures of the accident scene. I thought, she must have been kidding. No way.

After multiple times, I finally got hold of my boss and told him that I wasn’t coming into work. He asked why. I told him: ‘You know the accident by Wal-Mart? He goes, ‘yeah, I was taking pictures of it.’ I told him, it was me. ‘You?’ he asked, and the conversation soon turned into how I was feeling (hey, at least, I was able to deliver whom the driver of the accident was right away).

As the ambulance left the scene to transport me to Westfields, two things struck me the most: One was seeing my vehicle, a Chevrolet Trailblazer which we recently purchased less than three weeks earlier, rolled over and realizing we would have to start the search for a new vehicle again. Secondly, there was a line of vehicles, southbound on State Highway 65, having to wait and probably one of them thinking, ‘this idiot drove into the ditch and he’s making me late for …’

We arrive at Westfields, I get wheeled into an ER room and after more questions and observations, it was advised I take a head, chest and a neck X-ray. During one of those moments of intermission, I opened my eyes, and I thought, ‘How did this happen to me?’

I got wheeled back to my room and Michelle was there waiting for me. I found my phone and checked The News’ website and saw a picture of the accident site and Michelle basically said, ‘see what it’s like to be on the other side?’ After taking accident pictures like that for the last nine years, she proved her point.

Also, I had a hunch I was going to be OK, and Michelle knew I was going to be OK after she saw the TV in the room was turned to Sports Center (for those who know me, that’s not a surprise, but in my defense, there is nothing on in the late mornings and afternoons).

After getting the OK medically, the adrenaline was starting to wear off, but I was told the pain and soreness would start. The next day, that was true as I became good friends with Ibuprofen for the next couple of days.

A note of personal thanks goes out to the New Richmond EMS and the staff at Westfields for the medical care they provided me when it was needed.

Thanks to the article on The News’ website and by posting it on my own Facebook page, I spent the next couple of days retelling the story and stating how I felt since. It was also popular. Before the General Sams fire on Feb. 15, my accident was the most viewed story on The News’ website.

I know this: There was a little luck on my side, but had I not been wearing my seatbelt, it could’ve been worse.

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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