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Thread: Car crash question

  1. #1
    Just Sing. Eveningsdawn's Avatar
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    Car crash question

    I have a question...

    In a story of mine, I have a four year old girl whose knee is broken in a 3 am car crash. I think it's a hit-and-run deal, because everyone else at the scene needs to be unconscious or gone. Her father is in the car with her, driving obviously.

    I would love to know how I can break her knee without killing her or her father, and preferably by throwing her clear somehow. (She needs to be semi-awake, because she needs to be found by someone. So what needs to be wrong with the car/how does the other car need to hit the car with my girl in it?

    Thanks.
    "When writing a novel that's pretty much entirely what life turns into: 'House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day.'" - Neil Gaiman


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  2. #2
    Hopeless Romantic fedorable1's Avatar
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    Interesting question! Hm, well I have one possibility.

    Perhaps instead of hitting another car, the father could careen off the side of the road near/above a creek or river. The back door opens and the child falls out of the car into the water.

    She breaks her knee, and is washed downstream, but lives. The father survives the crash, but probably smacks his head pretty good.

  3. #3
    Happy to be here kristie911's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eveningsdawn
    I would love to know how I can break her knee without killing her or her father, and preferably by throwing her clear somehow.
    Here's the great thing about car crashes (that isn't exactly what I meant)...literally anything can happen. Working in law enforcement, I have seen car crashes where it doesn't look bad but everyone dies or horrific looking crashes where everyone walks away without a scratch or, most often, someone in the car dies and no one else is hurt.

    It's not unheard of for someone to be ejected and live, I would say you could make up any kind of crash you need and have it ring true.

    My first thought was that it was a head-on, maybe the other driver was drunk (then he could drive away if you don't need him for anything else) or maybe a drunk crossed the center line and dad swerved to miss him and hit a tree. Dad hit's his head on the steering wheel (or he is knocked unconcious by the air bag) and your MC's knee is broken when it's driven into the dashboard.

    It's totally believable and she and dad live and if the other guy drives away after the accident, you don't have a bunch of characters you don't need cluttering up your scene.

    Hope this helps!!
    A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.

  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW
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    Could there be something loose in the car, like a heavy box they've just picked up at Sears or somewhere? Even though the girl is buckled in, the corner of the box hits her knee just right and breaks it?

  5. #5
    Doc says: Are ARCs nomable? AW Moderator Calla Lily's Avatar
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    My folks got in a car crash 2 years ago, and mom broke her leg. Here's how it happened.

    They were at a stoplight at a 5-way intersection. Their light turned green, and some idiot ran his red light at about 45 mph. He hit the passenger side of the hood. The front bumper flew off, The engine compartment crumpled like tinfoil, and mom was instantly SHOVED into the dashboard (yes, the airbag deployed). However, because she prefers to sit close to the dashboard, there was no wiggle room for her leg.

    This may work with your 4-yr-old character in a booster seat in front, b/c they make the kid sit high and close. Or just sitting in front, seat up close so she can see out.

    Good luck!

    - the Lily

  6. #6
    (Graeme Cameron) three seven's Avatar
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    Agree with Kristie - anything can happen. But I'd go with a glancing blow to a rear quarter panel, spinning the car off the road sideways into a telegraph pole.
    If you want the other guy to drive away, the impact between the two cars doesn't want to be too great. If the car hits the pole sideways, it could easily slam her knees together against the door hard enough to break one of them. It'll also buckle the door frame and likely pop the door open, and since the pole is narrow and the impact isn't dead-centre, the car will spin away, door open, easily ejecting an improperly secured child onto the verge.

  7. #7
    Empirical Storm Trooper MadScientistMatt's Avatar
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    Most of the time, getting thrown from the car is more likely to cause injuries than staying belted in. Car crashes are pretty unpredictable things, but you'd have to be pretty lucky to get thrown from a car and avoid hitting any hard objects, either on your way out of the car or when you land. This does happen; you just have to be lucky. A convertable with the top down may be your best bet if you want her to be thrown from the car and survive.

    Here is one other interesting possibility for throwing someone from the car: Some mid '90s GM cars had the seat belts mounted to the doors, and you could get out of the car by opening the door even if the seat belt was still buckled. Very bad design. Anyway, if one of those cars was in a head-on collision, it might break the girl's knees, then the car might spin and hit something on the side hard enough to pop the door open and spill her out. I'm not sure if this could work if she is in a child seat.

    One thing I'm wondering - what era is this, and what sort of car is it? A lot of modern cars can take enough damage to be totaled, yet the occupants can all walk away without a scratch. Some older cars, on the other hand, were built so rigidly that the car could hit something hard enough to kill the driver, but somebody else could get in and drive it away. Well, maybe not drive it very far, as it would probably run out of coolant.

  8. #8
    This is my BEST side! threedogpeople's Avatar
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    Smile Put the girl in the back seat...

    This happened to some friends of mine.

    They had their son in a booster seat behind the front passenger (he was too short/light to be in the front seat or just wearing a seat belt). They were involved in a crash that caused the front passenger seat to collapse when the latch failed. The force of the impact of the front seat broke their son's knee cap but didn't do any other damage to him. The impact was on the passenger side where the front and back quarter panels meet.

    Regards, Judy

  9. #9
    Just Sing. Eveningsdawn's Avatar
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    I think.... I think that either Judy's or Fedorable's would work. Because it makes more sense, almost, if she's not picked up near the scene of the accident, as the person picking her up isn't going to be returning her...

    It's an older car. If anyone has a different take, I'd still love to hear it.
    "When writing a novel that's pretty much entirely what life turns into: 'House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day.'" - Neil Gaiman


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  10. #10
    Seanachie johnnysannie's Avatar
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    In most states - I don't know about yours - booster and child seats are required by law to be in the backseat.

    I also know of several crashes, including a fatality, in which persons in the back seat were either injured or suffered injuries such as a broken knee.

  11. #11
    Gone
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    Fiction has to be more believable than real life, I know. But FWIW, in real life you don't always know how you got hurt in a crash. There's a big jolting smash, and then...there you are.

  12. #12
    665:Neighbor of the Beast Shiny_Penguin's Avatar
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    Just something else to think about: At 4 yrs old, my kids were in booster seats with a 4 point harness in the back seat. Once they got to a certain weight, they used the seat belt with the booster (I think they were about 5). At least in PA, kids have to be in a booster until 8 yrs old and in the back seat until 12 (I think).
    Laura

  13. #13
    The pretzel in an egg! RubyRoo's Avatar
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    Being involved in a major car crash my self all I can say is that ANYTHING can hurt on (or break your knee) at that speed. If it was a head on collision this would work as the people in the front , drawing from my experience, are usually worse off and if the dad got in the car then turned around in his seat to help his daughter and make sure she has her seat belt on(where I come from kids just wear seat belts at that age, another car could, for whatever reason, accidently drive into their parked car and beacause the girl hasnt yet got her seat belt on or closed the door she is thrown out? Any good?
    Two wrongs don't make a right but two Wrights do make an airplane!

  14. #14
    The Arthurian Addict. FolkloreFanatic's Avatar
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    I was hit at 60mph on my driver's side and the car crumpled around me, but I only suffered a fractured wrist and a bruised hip. My friend was in the passesnger seat and was barely hurt at all. I'd say a <50mph accident that clips one side of the car, sending it spinning, and the car seat flies out the window.

    This may sound silly, but use toy cars and vans with action figures and crash them on purpose. I know that my brother's TMNT van from way back when was great for playing Crash Test Dummies. The more open windows and realistic doors/seats available, the better.

  15. #15
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Sunrise2Fantasy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FolkloreFanatic
    This may sound silly, but use toy cars and vans with action figures and crash them on purpose. I know that my brother's TMNT van from way back when was great for playing Crash Test Dummies. The more open windows and realistic doors/seats available, the better.
    Actually, this also brings to my attention those crash test dummies in the commercials for cars, they have mini ones now in cars for little kids to play with. I bet you could use those to practice the right angle at which you need for your story.
    Unless of course I'm just repeating what FolkloreFanatic said, then sorry.
    When the morning comes alive
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    -KAMELOT-Rule The World.

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  16. #16
    cloud watching September skies's Avatar
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    Eveningdawns,
    I won't say a lot since there is plenty of good information above my post so I won't go into any "accident" possibilities for your character.

    But just want to throw in a couple of things....

    1. As a former Emergency Room nurse and married to a paramedic (and back in the 70s I was allowed to ride along in the ambulance with him) I have seen plenty of children involved in accidents. I never saw a child make it that was thrown out of the car (but I know they can live, unfortunately never in our cases)
    And
    2. California state law requires any child in a car seat to be in the back seat. Therefore I think the scenarios in which you have the child in back is a good one. I did see plenty of children come in with pretty banged up knees requiring plenty of stitching. I can't recall if they were actually broken knee caps, but they were so messed up that they couldn't walk. Of course in ER, we stabilize them (stitch them up, bandage them up) and send them on their way. Some go home with instructions to follow up with their physician and some sent off to Childrens Hospital.
    So if your child character was getting whisked away by a stranger, you may want to make her knee serious but less life threatening. (if broken, she'd definitely have to go to a hospital eventually....unless that's the point and the stranger will get her there)

    Hope this helps.
    September

  17. #17
    Just Sing. Eveningsdawn's Avatar
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    Life-threatening isn't what I want - I need mobility-threatening. And yeah, the stranger will be getting there. I think backseat is the best place.
    "When writing a novel that's pretty much entirely what life turns into: 'House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day.'" - Neil Gaiman


    I am a NaNo 2006 Winner! I just fail at putting the icons in my signature!

  18. #18
    Bliss-ninny
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    my wife and son were in a near fatal head-on collision in December. My wife's car was struck just over the left headlight. Her left hip and both knees were broken. When the collision occurred, the seat back broke, pushing into the rear compartment of the car. If a child was sitting, belted or in a car seat, the child's knee would easily be broken. As for being thrown from the vehicle, with that type of impact, a child could easily be thrown free of the seatbelt and out of the car.
    I'd make a vegetarian stew, except it's against the law to cook people in the United States.-Frank

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