31st October 2008

A shocking situation occurred yesterday when we were driving into Montauban, the capital of the Tarn et Garonne region, for a meal with some friends at our favourite restaurant, Les Relais d'Alsacienne. Although it's hardly 'down the road' for us, we all thought it was worth the 50 mile journey. The route is very picturesque along the D115 river valley road, through numerous old tunnels that trace a time when the road used to be a railway line.
We were almost at the junction with the A20 autoroute when a situation occurred which shocked all of us. A car coming in the opposite direction clipped a car which was jutting out of a side road, spun out of control on the wet road, momentarily flew through the air right in front of us and landed nose first in the ditch on our right! It was very surreal - almost virtual reality. No noise or screeching of tires, just a silent black car flipping up in the air and landing oh-so-slowly right in front of our car. I was driving. I pulled up and parked a little further on to a safe spot. In France, it is illegal not to stop and help at such times. By then, our friends' car and others following them had also stopped. The woman in the clipped car was O.K. so everyone went to try and help the man in the ditch. But, no-one could open the door. The man inside was conscious, sprawled across the front seats. People shouted to him that they had called the emergency services. (In France, the emergency number from a mobile is 112, annoyingly different from fixed-lines). It was surprising that, although the man looked O.K., he wasn't trying to get out, just continued to use his mobile phone. If it had been me, I wouldn't bother with the phone - I'd just want to get out of there in case the whole car blew up or something. But everyone felt that it wouldn't be a good idea to try to move him in case there was a neck injury. Eventually, we felt we'd done all we could so drove off again. We could hear the approaching sirens and felt that our lack of French-language skills probably wouldn't help the situation as there were plenty of other local witnesses at the scene.
Scary though. You never know what's around the corner - literally.

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