20 seconds in slow-motion, 20 years ago
Sunday July 25th 2010, 12:35 am

On July 25, 1990 at 12:34:40AM, I was riding a motorcycle in Indianapolis, southbound on Meridian St, on my way to see a gal I was dating, in her downtown high-rise apartment.

At the same time, one Mary V. Slafkosky, who was loaded up with quite a lot more than the (then) legal blood alcohol limit of .10% BAC, was travelling eastbound on 21st St in her white Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.

Mary was too drunk to judge that the green signal for eastbound 21st St was ‘stale.’

10 seconds later, at 12:34:50AM, the signal for traffic eastbound on 21st St turned yellow.

The signal I was approaching, for southbound Meridian St, had been red, so I was decelerating. About a city block north of the intersection, I had downshifted into 4th, closed the throttle and was covering the front brake lever with my right index and middle fingers, preparing to stop.

Mary was also too drunk to judge the length of the yellow signal.

6 seconds later, at 12:34:56AM, the signal for eastbound 21st St turned red.

Mary didn’t stop- she didn’t even slow down. Mary barrelled right on into the intersection, against the red signal.

At the same time, when I was about 150 feet north of the intersection, then moving at about 25mph, the signal for southbound Meridian turned green. I released the front brake lever and rolled on a small amount of throttle to return to the 35mph speed limit.

The 4-story apartment building on the northwest corner of the intersection of 21st and Meridian completely blocks the view of traffic approaching on 21st St from the west for drivers proceeding south on Meridian.

I had less than 1 second to react to Mary’s car entering the intersection while the signal was green for me.

Processing.

Cognitive dissonance for 1/3 of a second.

…why is there a car entering the intersection from my right, when the signal is green for me?

Processing.

Another 1/3 of a second passes.

Reaction.

I managed to get my fingers back on the front brake lever and mashed the rear brake pedal.

Too late.

With eyes the size of dinner plates, I saw the white left front fender of Mary’s car, with chrome Cutlass Supreme insignia, looming ever larger, larger and larger, like being viewed through a zoom lens advancing at top speed into a focal point.

And then…

The SOUND.

I can still hear it, even now, 20 years later.

WHOOOMP.

My front wheel squarely hit Mary’s left front wheel, crushing her left front suspension. The forks of the bike folded to the left and the remaining mass of the bike collapsed the Cutlass’ left front fender.

The bike and I went airborne, both flying over Mary’s car. I flew about 50-60 feet, rolling and tumbling through the air.

A witness following me said the bike was on its side while airborne, spinning. He first mistook it for a lawnmower spinning through the air.

Not being terribly good at flying, I returned to earth.

My first contact with the Meridian St pavement was on my full-face helmet’s chin bar and on my chest. The chest impact caused my heart to go into fibrillation, stopping efficient blood flow to my brain.

I bounced and rolled several more times, fracturing my right knee’s tibial plateau, tearing my left knee’s anterior cruciate ligament and injuring my spine in three places. Both ankles were fractured, as was my left wrist. Despite the thickness of a leather jacket over a down-filled jacket (it was a rather cool night for July in Indianapolis), the point of the ulna bone near my left elbow, tore through the skin, leaving an inch-long gash which required several butterfly bandages to close.

I finally stopped rolling, about 75 feet from the point of impact, lying on my back. The lack of blood flow to the brain caused me to be semi-conscious at the time and ultimately caused a temporary stroke-like condition, where my entire left side was paralyzed for several weeks.

The chin strap of the helmet was tight across my neck, partially cutting off my airway. Some amazingly prescient nearby person almost immediately came to my aid, loosening the strap, but not removing my helmet in case I had broken my neck.

While all this was happening, not knowing her car was fatally wounded, Mary panicked and decided to flee the scene- and leave me for dead. Despite the crushed left front suspension, Mary mashed the throttle. The front-wheel-drive Cutlass dragged its left front wheel while the right front spun and smoked, while Mary struggled through her drunken stupor and with the nearly inoperable steering. She managed to get the car, on three operable wheels, about a block away from the scene. 5 witnesses came forward, one describing Mary’s hasty, semi-controlled exit from the scene as ‘like something out of the Dukes of Hazzard.’

If you’re going to have one, downtown Indianapolis is a pretty good place to sustain severe injuries in an auto accident, given its close proximity to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where quite a lot of that sort of thing tends to happen. I was only 2 minutes by ambulance away from Methodist Hospital, a Level 1 trauma care center. Since witnesses saw the whole thing happen, police and ambulance were summoned almost immediately and were on scene scant minutes after the collision. Paramedics defibrillated my heart, stabilised me and transported me to Methodist, where I remained for many months afterward.

While in hospital, I had several knee surgeries. A band of tissue was grafted from the center of my left patellar tendon to repair the torn ACL in my left knee. A piece of bone from my right hip was grafted out and used to repair the flaked bone on my right knee’s tibial plateau, along with the installation of 8 very nice stainless steel screws and an equally pretty 4″ long stainless steel plate. The hardware was removed about a year later as it was causing severe pain when I encountered large changes in air temperature.

Despite her escape, Mary was located and arrested about 2 hours after the fact. She was charged with ‘operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated causing serious bodily harm,’ a felony, as well as ‘leaving the scene of a serious bodily injury accident,’ another felony. This was Mary’s first drunk driving offense- but you can’t convince me for a nanosecond that anyone who can find their car keys, much less semi-successfully drive a car, with nearly double the legal BAC, isn’t a ‘pro drinker’ who has driven home drunk many times before. I just was unlucky enough to be her first victim.

Mary got herself a good attorney, who did precisely what criminal defense lawyers do. This attorney attempted to use traffic signal sequencing information to pin the fault for the collision on me and tried to persuade witnesses to describe my very ordinary 1981 Suzuki GS450 commuter bike as a ‘souped-up racing motorcycle’- and managed to get the charge reduced to ‘operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated,’ a misdemeanor, presumably because Mary had not previously been convicted of any DUI offenses. Mary at the time was employed by the Indiana Department of Motor Vehicles. No word on whether Mary kept that job after being convicted, but she did eventually (about a year later) plead guilty, but only to the misdemeanor OMVWI charge.

Despite all the injuries and surgery, one of the the most painful things about the whole mess to me was that during the court session where she was convicted, Mary never even looked me in the eye to apologize. She just snuffled and blubbered and stared at her shoes. Mary was given a year’s suspension from driving and a nominal fine, about $100. I’m quite sure the attorney cost her several thousand dollars, but it was nothing compared to the loss of income I have suffered in the last 20 years. I received a paltry $36,000 settlement in the early 1990s for pain and suffering, about half a year’s worth of pay for me. I did manage to return to work about a year after the accident and was able to struggle through for the ensuing 11 years, but in 2002, my knees absolutely failed me and I have been unable to work since. I live on a disability pension of about $15,000 per year.

I am in constant pain to one degree or another, every single day. I constantly struggle with effective pain control with my three spinal and bilateral knee injuries. I presently need more surgery- the left knee is totally shot and I need a total knee joint replacement. The problem being that at age 48, I’m too young to have the work done- artificial knee joints only last about 20 years before a revision surgery is required. The mechanical joints simply wear out and must be replaced. However, replacing an artificial joint is difficult and risky, particularly when the patient is in their 70s. It’s best to wait as long as possible for the surgery so that one doesn’t outlive the usefulness of the mechanical joint.

Mary’s not done too badly for herself in the last 20 years. She’s now employed as the Executive Director at the Muncie (Indiana) Children’s Museum and has acquired bachelors and masters degrees. I hope like hell Mary has addressed her alcohol problems and hasn’t drunkenly run over any other innocents.

If you drink and own a car, think carefully about this story. If you’re a thoughtless, self-centred drunk who can’t be bothered to get a cab home, provided you don’t kill your victim/s outright, you stand a very high likelihood of leaving them to live in poverty with lifelong disabilities.

-weez


24 Comments so far
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I’m so sorry for what happened to you. I was much, much luckier, but 28 months later, the crash I was in still affects me — and it’ll affect the man who hit me for life.

On March 21 2008, at 11:31pm, I was driving to my husband’s work to pick him up (in, oddly enough, a white Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme). I was going 55 (the limit) on cruise control.

A man (whom I won’t name because many others share his name and I wouldn’t want people to think it was them) had left a bar at the other end of the highway, with a .24 BAC. That’s 3 times the legal limit, for those playing along at home. He hit a taxi as he turned onto the highway, bounced off, and headed in my direction at over 70mph on the wrong side of the meridian.

I had just come around a curve when I realised the headlights approaching weren’t on the other side — they were in my lane. Thankfully, the road was fairly deserted at the time (he had gone several miles before reaching me!) and I had room to swerve. What I didn’t have was time. Our front left corners met.

Suffice to say, both cars were totaled. We both had to be removed from our cars with the jaws of life. I was amazingly lucky: the airbag went off and the dashboard ended up in my lap, but no further. I was on crutches for a month or two, and later needed surgery to remove a shard of glass from my hand. At this point, most of my injuries seem to be healed, aside from a little nerve damage and some apparently permanent bruising.

He lost a leg. He was already a paraplegic, and had a DUI from the ’70s or ’80s on his record (a time when, the cop said, “You really had to TRY to get one.”). Whether those two facts were related, no one seemed to know. Regardless, he went to jail for 18 months — and that was the plea bargain. It would have been longer if any of us (me, the taxi driver, the taxi passenger) had been more seriously hurt.

So for those too selfish even to care what happens to those you hit: are your leg and a year and a half of your life worth cabfare home? How about the rest of your life? Because yes, it really CAN happen to you.

Then again, the people like that… they probably won’t bother to read this.

Comment by Ninjakitten 07.26.10 @ 8:09 am

NK, thanks for reading and telling your story. Please pass this one along, especially to the teens and 20somethings in your life. It’ll sink in to some of them, though I’m equally sure that a lot of them think getting busted driving drunk is a really unfair inconvenience that impinges on their right to a good time.

Comment by weez 07.26.10 @ 10:19 am

You are courageous to immerse yourself in this memory every decade, weez. Traumatic events have a way of never leaving our psyche. I have often wondered why.

Your recollections, no doubt painful, demonstrate the usefulness of never forgetting and bravely telling. First-person stories are powerful and yours is surely that!

Mary, (and those like you) read, listen and change!

Weez, your remembering, I hope is cathartic.

Comment by suki 07.26.10 @ 11:07 am

Excellent post. Nothing can replace what you have lost yet your response to what happened compared to hers speaks volumes about your individual characters.

The feeling and thoughts you so accurately describe as the car is about to hit you is a horrible thing…it makes it real hard to get back on the (motor or push)bike even if a person (and by that I mean me) has managed to walk away relatively unscathed compared to yourself.

Comment by dj 07.27.10 @ 12:52 pm

Is this her on linked in? http://www.linkedin.com/pub/mary-slafkosky/6/754/704

Comment by Michael 08.24.10 @ 4:16 pm

Yep, that’s her, Michael.

Comment by weez 08.24.10 @ 4:54 pm

I came by this while doing an address search for Mary. While I am in no way minimizing what happened to you Michael, please know that, but to seek some type of revenge 20 years later by posting this seems to resolve nothing. I have known Mary for many years, possibly when this happened, as I am from Indiana. Mary does not resemble your description above. Did she make a mistake, yes, and for that I am sorry for you. But people do make mistakes. Bad things happen to good people, you and Mary. As Christians, we have to dig deep and forgive those that have wronged us. Knowing Mary as I do, I am quite sure this probably still eats at her as I know she would never intentionally set out to hurt anyone. Mary may be a horrible person in your eyes which I can somewhat understand; however, I have seen her do many good things for many people. Did this happen? Yes, unfortunately it did, to both of you, but I hope you find a little peace in hearing Mary is not the horrible person you describe. 20 years ago a terrible thing happened for which I hope you some day find your strength to forgive.

Comment by TC 09.15.10 @ 5:08 am

My name is not Michael.

Fuck christians.

I’m under no obligation whatsoever to forgive anyone, let alone someone who couldn’t raise her eyes off her shoes to even so much as apologise.

Mary IS a horrible person.

You are not helping, TC. It might be a very good time for you to fuck off and not come back.

Comment by weez 09.15.10 @ 5:55 am

Funny thing, TC…..You say you’ve known Mary for many years, yet did not know of this incident. Doesn’t appear to be eating her up much, I’d say. Shame on you for condoning irresponsible and unatoned for behavior.

Comment by Sandy 09.15.10 @ 6:05 am

My name *is* Michael – and no connection to this. While it is up to weez to forgive (he can never forget – gosh I could never forget or forgive) I reserve my right to be angry on other peoples behalf.

It is not unreasonable to be upset by the inequity in their 2 situations: Mary seems to have done well. What is galling is her behaviour at the time – not at the time of the accident, but after – but using her position (which would be illegal in most other countries) and influence as well as lawyers (which is legal) to weasel out of guilt. And never *ask* for forgiveness – never acknowledge the crime.

Also “be sure your win will find you out”.

This was a horrible mistake – compounded by abhorrent behaviour – is it to much to expect Mary to ask for forgiveness for her crime? she never has.

Comment by Michael 09.15.10 @ 8:57 am

hahaha “win == sin” – actually that is kind of a funny mistake.

Comment by Michael 09.15.10 @ 8:57 am

Weez…our thoughts are with you; you are a courageous soul.

As for Mary and her idiotic poster supporter TC, you are completely clueless. Mary has had 20 years to open her mouth and apologize and not a word has come from her. How do you explain 20 years of being a consistent douchebag. I don’t forgive Mary at all. She should be send Weez a monthly support check and a flowers every week. Mary is awful.

Comment by Gilligan 10.03.10 @ 12:00 pm

Thanks, Gilligan- I agree.

Comment by weez 10.03.10 @ 3:03 pm

Mary is a douche, end of story. Total douche. 100% fucking douche! For TC to cite her right to forgiveness makes him a douche by association. Call yourself a christian? I think perhaps you’re forgetting that in most (all?) religions, to recieve forgiveness you first have to ASK. Whatever God you believe in, even he/she does not forgive unless you repent. Has Mary repented? Not to the person she has caused such pain and suffering to, by the sounds of it. Like I said – DOUCHE!

Comment by Jaimes 01.07.11 @ 2:15 pm

I gotta say- 4 months down the track from TC’s comment, I’m still utterly slack-jaw stunned at the attempt to excuse the behaviour of a drunk driver who left me for dead and with lifelong injuries.

Drunk driving is a premeditated crime, from beginning to end. If you drink and drive, you’ve decided that your ‘right’ to party exceeds the rights of others to be alive and unharmed.

No. No fucking way.

Comment by weez 01.07.11 @ 2:33 pm

Jaimes and Weez, you remain perfectly correct. Mary wins the Lifetime Douchebag Crown literally running away. It’s amazing how people try to defend evil, cowardice and wretchedness instead of speaking the ugly truth. If TC had an ounce of so-called Christianity in her, she’d march Mary to your doorstep to do her eternal penance instead of defending the Satanic Mary. Keep up your spirit, Weez.

Comment by Gilligan 01.08.11 @ 2:42 am

My then seven year old daughter and I were hit by a drink driver in 2006, she sustained a brain injury and was in a coma for 2 weeks, and I was in hospital for three months with many physical injuries. The driver, however, was devastated at what he had done. I agreed to speak to him on the phone, and we talked a lot, this was a very important part of my family’s recovery and I agree that Mary has deprived you of much healing by refusing to acknowledge what she has done to you! I wish you luck with your physical issues, and Mary, if for some reason you are reading this, contact this man!!

Comment by Anna 01.08.11 @ 11:14 pm

Weez Just read your story it sickens me but I see Mary is now the Associate Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Indiana Tech nice that her career has carried on. Just would love to ask them if she divulged her DUI arrest upon her hiring at Indiana Tech .Wouldn’t want someone like her working besides me. Drunken unapologetic sow she probably still continues to be

Comment by suereel 03.13.13 @ 2:38 am

Hi suereel, thanks for the update.

Yep, there she is.

Mary’s looking well.

Comment by weez 03.13.13 @ 5:45 am

Hi Anna, sorry about my late reply to your comment. To be painfully honest, I don’t visit this post very often- I have plenty of reminders of the event.

I hope you and your daughter are coping well. I say ‘coping’ because there’s never a return to ‘before.’ You will both live with your memories and injuries for the rest of your lives. That you got an actual apology from your drunk driver may soften the way you react when you remember, but everyone who has turned an ignition key while drunk should know that your results and mine are a very real possibility.

I hope Mary thinks about me from time to time, but my strong suspicion is that she works very hard to avoid such memories.

Comment by weez 03.13.13 @ 5:58 am

I worked with Mary Slafkosky in the mid 2000s. Her nickname around the office was “Teflon Mary” because no matter how unscrupulously she behaved (and she most certainly behaved unscrupulously), nothing ever seemed to “stick.”

And she definitely loved her booze. I heard her discussing her enjoyment of it often.

It has been said that, “Drinkers graduate to a DUI.” The odds are overwhelmingly against a DUI citation having been the result of a person’s first time being drunk behind the wheel.

As you state in your account, I don’t for a moment believe that July 25, 1990 was Mary Slafkosky’s first experience driving drunk–and I don’t believe it was her last.

I’m so sorry your life was touched by Mary Slafkosky.

Comment by TruthSayer 08.11.13 @ 3:43 am

Thanks for your note. For some odd reason, Google ranks pages from mgk very highly. The longer this page remains online, the more bits of information trickle in as people find it.

I hope Mary’s given up the sauce by now. If not, surely, one of these days, I’ll read here about how Mary has wounded or killed someone else.

Comment by weez 08.11.13 @ 7:23 am

Reading Weez’s account made me so angry.

Where’s the justice in this world if someone like Mary can so profoundly damage another person’s quality of life and then continue on as happy as a lark? Especially after she fled the scene of the crime. (And make no mistake. It is a crime.)

No apology. No acceptance of responsibility. No meaningful recompense.

And then I hit that repulsive weaselly post from TC, with his/her: “But people do make mistakes. Bad things happen to good people, you and Mary.”

Oh, a ‘bad thing’ happened to Mary? REALLY?

I realise that post was from years ago, and TC will most likely never visit this page again, but I can’t help but comment on what a dishonest sniveling piece of dirt TC is.

TC, Mary WAS the BAD THING. It was HER!

And how dare you then say: “Did this happen? Yes, unfortunately it did, to both of you”

Oh yes, POOR MARY, who got drunk, drove, nearly killed another person, and fled the scene. We should all spare a thought for POOR MARY who effectively ruined someone else’s life and then sailed off into the sunset.

What kind of loathsome slimy sewer rat says, “20 years ago a terrible thing happened”, as if it was just some random occurrence, for which Mary bears no responsibility.

This did not just *happen*. MARY DID IT. Mary drove while intoxicated and seriously injured another person, leaving that person to deal with the repercussions for the rest of his life.

TC is completely and utterly dishonest. How disgraceful it is to wear one’s Christianity as though it is a badge giving you some kind of pious right to pretend that Mary is blameless — and worse, a victim!

Unbelievable.

Comment by Simon 09.19.13 @ 3:04 pm

Mary Slafkosky, currently working nonchalantly as
Associate Vice President Institutional Advancement
at Indiana Tech is among the worst human beings in the world.

She’s no Hitler, Pol Pot, or Joseph Stalin, but her inhumanity is award-winning like a true sociopath.

Only good thoughts to you, Weez !

Comment by Gilligan 09.20.13 @ 12:44 am



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