When vehicles collide at high speed, it’s difficult to predict what the result will be. Two cars that hit each other on Highway 101 near Cloverdale, California, created a spectacular scene that’s hard to believe without seeing for yourself. The two people involved both managed to survive, but how is that possible?
Crashes on the road are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Over 37,000 people lose their lives in a road collision every single year. A further 2.35 million are injured or even disabled in any given year.
Thus, when a Chevy Impala and a Toyota Sequoia hit each other head-on, the result seemed a foregone conclusion. It was an early May morning when Apol Lansang, 25, collided with Kevin Fenty, 27, who was travelling the other way. California Highway Patrol said Fenty in the Sequoia had drifted across lanes.
The impact between the two vehicles threw Fenty out of his vehicle and onto the highway. As a result, he was the more significantly injured of the two parties. His car came to a stop further up the road, a good distance from the wreckage of the Impala.
A retired U.S. Air Force ambulance driver, Tom Bond, was several cars back when the accident took place. He said, “[it was] the craziest thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen many accidents…it was just unbelievable.” Instinctively, Bond got out his phone and took a film of the crash site.
The impact of the crash had a shocking effect on the Impala. It ripped the entire car in half, from the front seats backward. The force of the crash left one half of the vehicle propped vertically on the embankment.
As a result, the crash debris was spread for several yards all over the road. Additionally, the video of the scene features the Sequoia, its horn damaged and blaring continuously. The entire front of the SUV was smashed to pieces.
Despite the horrific results of the crash, somehow neither Fenty nor Lansang was killed in the collision. The video shows Lansang still sat in the driver’s seat of her car, shaken but otherwise relatively unhurt. The steering wheel airbag has deployed and she is being comforted by concerned people who have come to help.
However, Fenty was in worse shape. Since he’d been thrown from his vehicle and landed on the hard road surface, he was described as having suffered “moderate injuries”. In Bond’s video, he is being tended to by passengers from other vehicles. A blanket has been put on him to keep him warm.
Although authorities have not yet determined the cause of the accident, it appears there may have been drugs involved. Fenty may also not have been wearing his seatbelt, which could explain why he was ejected from the car.
The California Highway Patrol arrived at the scene to help people and clear up the damage. Despite being a veteran of 16 years, Sergeant Jason Bahlmam described the scene as “pretty intense…it was definitely one of the most severely damaged cars I’ve ever seen.”
People may look at this crash and think that the Impala should have held up better. For one thing, it’s essentially been torn in two by the impact. The entire back end of the vehicle has been ripped away, meaning any passengers in the rear seats would surely have suffered very serious injuries.
However, it’s more important that cars preserve life in crashes, rather than their structural integrity. Bear in mind that collisions can create a massive amount of G-force if, as in this case, a vehicle travelling at speed comes to a dead-stop. This crash is actually an example of cars protecting passengers.
With this in mind, also remember that most humans can only survive intense G-forces for a short time before they become life-threatening. Additionally, experiments have shown that G-force tolerance is subjective. This means some people can survive higher levels, some lower.
As a result, modern vehicles are designed with “crumple zones” which absorb some of the energy from the crash and redistribute it around the frame of the car. This prevents it being passed on to the people inside, helping them to survive the impact.
Lansang, though, has a different theory as to how she survived the crash. According to her it wasn’t the car’s engineering that saved her, but God. She said, “[Spirituality] is like my own getaway from the whole world, and I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m here.”
Furthermore, Lansang claims that God has determined her life choices in general, including becoming a nurse. She told The Press Democrat, “I’ve always wanted to just be an instrument to God…there’s something more that I need to accomplish in my life. I don’t know exactly what it is yet, but I know that it has to do with helping others.”
Things didn’t go so well for Fenty. That is to say, he was arrested and taken to Mendocino County Jail on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs, driving without a license and possession of marijuana.
Despite this, Lansang says that she doesn’t hold a grudge for what happened. She told reporters, “I have no ill feeling about him.” That being said, she might have had a different reaction if she’d been driving with passengers instead of being by herself.
As a result of the video going viral, millions of people have seen the effects of a collision like this. Hopefully, it will stand as a warning to pay extra care and attention when out driving. Lansang got lucky – next time a car is ripped in half like this there may be no survivors.