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LUCKY TO BE ALIVE !!!

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Apr 20th, 2017, 01:28 PM
  #1
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LUCKY TO BE ALIVE !!!

Am fortunate to be able to post this report on my most favourite forum.
Am sharing something with you all, that I haven't yet shared with my Mother and Brother back home.

We are a family of 5 on a road trip through Austria,Slovenia,Croatia.
My wife Poonam (50( and me(51) years young. My two daughters Poorva (20) and Priyanka (22) who are with us on most of our International trips and my niece Roma(23) who is travelling abroad for the 1st time, are the characters in this tale.
We have been travelling to various countries in north America, Europe, Africa, South east Asia for last 20 years. Doing road trips through many countries for the past 10 years and have wonderful memories. This is our 10th trip to Europe.This one has a bit mixed feeling.

Our itinerary is as follows:
15th April 17- Mumbai- Zagreb by Turkish flight- Rent a car
16th April- Drive to Grundlsee, Salzkammergut, Austria and stay for 6 nights in our Gold Crown timeshare resort till 21st April.(This is our 3rd visit to Austria. want to see some offbeat places, including my most favourite, Salzkammergut)

22nd to 25th April- 3.5 days in Slovenia
25th April to 6th may- drive through Croatia, back to Zagreb. Give the car back.
Fly out Zagreb- Mumbai.

Got the weather update for Grundlsee that it would be snowing almost all the week, with a bit of showers and may be one sunny day.

16th April- Zagreb to Grundlsee- with a stopover at Ptuj, Maribor (Slovenia) and Graz.
Despite snow alert, we get nice sunny day at Graz.A wonderful city.
Reach Grundlsee at 8.30 pm in the dark, It was drizzling and cold.
17th April- Light snow in the morning. temp 2 C. A bit better by 10. We drive to Salzburg 10.30-
1.00pm. Only at one place do we see snow on the sides. Kids stop and play a bit.
Pleasant 8 to 10C temp. We come back by 7.30pm
18th April- Snowing in the morning. Better by 11am with a bit of Sun and blue sky. We drive to
outskirts of Salzburg. Buy loads of Mirabell Mozart chocolates at Schokolade factory.
A bit of light snowing throughout but nothing on the road. Back by 7 pm
19th april- Snow in the morning. A bit better by 10. we leave for Linz via Gmunden by 10.30.
I asked a local person who was doing some road maintenance about the snow on the
road. he told us that there is no problem. Roads should be clear. If any problem, drive
slowly.
We reach Linz by 1.30 pm. Do a walking tour. it was very cold. Left by 4 pm.

We were using Here Maps Navigation from Priyanka s phone. It took us through a longer but probably faster Toll route. We came off the main highway that connects Graz. It was snowing lightly even today. On the smaller roads, we could see everything white around.

Twice, the car gave a sign of Skidding. We were slightly worried.
When we took a turn fir Grundlsee, we were 5 km from the resort.
A bird, probably a sparrow was o.n the road and got hit by the car and flew off. I was at 80 kmph. It must have died. Breaking wasn't possible. We all felt bad.

Just when we took a turn to go upwards, around 6pm, something happened that we all will remember for life.

I was driving very slowly as there was a thin layer of snow on the road. We had switched off the music. I stopped fully to pick it up the slope in 1st gear and the car started sliding down the slope.
I applied hand breaks and it stopped. Poonam and kids got down to clear the snow on the road with the rubber blade. No car was stopping by.
I had to just go about 100 meters uphill to reach flat road. Even after full throttle the car wasn't moving. I was trying to go on the tracks formed by other cars, wa slightly at an angle.

That is when I saw a black SUV coming down at a slope in speed. I was hoping that he would control but even after applying breaks and turning to right he couldn't manage his car. I was seeing him come and bang on my car. Head on collision. Those few seconds were the most traumatic in my life. His car banged sideways onto my front with a thud. My airbags busted and my car went back a few yards on the side of the road. We were lucky that there was no valley or a cliff on any of the sides. Poonam and kids could see the accident with their own eyes. I was worried for them and they were worried for me. I was fine and unhurt; but shaken. There was smoked coming out from the right airbag. It was a guy and his wife in the other car. All were happy to see me alive and unhurt.

For the next few minutes, we were trying to get help , request people to stop. No one stopped. I made a call to my car renter and asked the procedure. The guy in the opposite car called up the police. They arrived in 15 minutes with one car and a big taxi. Kids and Poonam took the handbags to the taxi. It s freezing cold. Snowing heavily. About 75 mm snow on the road by then. I sat in the Police car while he took my statement and all the details like car papers, insurance, passport, driving licence etc. He promised me to deliver the Police report to my resort next day before 12 noon. We sat in the taxi and reached the resort. We saw one car abandoned on the roadside, just inside our resort, on the sloping road. We could see some circular track marks in the snow which suggested that it had skid and turned.
Paid the taxi guy 20 Euros.
Reached our apartment and we all hugged each other. We were lucky to be alive and unhurt. Anything could have happened. We called up Tom from Green Motion car rentals at Zagreb from our Whatsapp. He asked me to send some photos. He assured me that he will send a new equivalent car from Zagreb and it would reach me by 12 noon. That was a great relief. we both were happy that I had opted for a Zero Excess insurance. My almost new 2017 Skoda Octavia Stationwagon lived upto its name and reputation as a sturdy and safe car.

My holiday could have turned into a nightmare. I was also cursing myself for dragging my innocent kids into such a situation. I could have cancelled Austria when I saw the weather report a week prior to our trip. We could have sat home today. I relied on the fact that for last 2 days, the snow melted during the day and we could come back easily from Salzburg on both the days.
We had dinner and slept at 9 pm. I took a tablet to get good sleep. Thanked God again while sleeping.

We all will remember this 19th April 2017 all our lives.
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Apr 20th, 2017, 01:40 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
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Oh my goodness -- wonderful that you are all OK and unhurt!

(BTW-- did you see the response to your thread on the Help Forum? Apparently ib staff was trying to contact you to fix your log on problem but your e-mail address didn't work)
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Apr 20th, 2017, 01:54 PM
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What a close call. Hope the rest of your trip is uneventful. I can understand not wanting to alarm your family back home. Reminds me when my 17 year old niece and I were in a cab in Paris that flipped over. Waited for our return to share that with my sister.
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Apr 20th, 2017, 02:05 PM
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Oh my gosh, I'm so glad you were okay! I hope the rest of your trip makes up for these scary memories!
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Apr 20th, 2017, 02:06 PM
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What a scary incident! Hope the rest of your trip is better.
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Apr 20th, 2017, 02:32 PM
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Wow! Sorry this happened to you but glad you are all OK!!! I was about to ask you in another thread how your trip was going and where you were - more eventful than I expected!!!
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Apr 20th, 2017, 02:35 PM
  #7
 
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The important thing:No one was injured. Be thankful your family was not in the car with you when the accident occurred.

No need to second guess yourself.You could have been hit by a car at home had you cancelled your vacation.You made all the right decisions-driving with caution, selected a safe car for your family, selected the correct insurance, etc.

Enjoy the rest of your vacation.
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Apr 20th, 2017, 02:39 PM
  #8
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Hi Thanks for your concern. You all have helped me for one or the other trip. Am feeling much lighter after pouring in my heart here.
I still get the images of the car coming at me at high speed, us shivering in snow on the road. My family running in the snow and chilling cold, urging the cars to stop and help us.
I come from a place where average temperature throughout the year is about 30℃.
This will take some time to subside.
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Apr 20th, 2017, 03:02 PM
  #9
 
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I'm glad you and your family are safe. The accident sounds like something you wouldn't easily forget. I also come from a country with average temperature 30°C, and moving in snow/ice is quite scary for me.
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Apr 20th, 2017, 03:08 PM
  #10
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Thanks dugi-otok, Andrew, Nonconformist, janisJ, pegS, Marija for the nice words.
It was more traumatic because we were in a foreign country where we didn't know the local language. (Luckily everyone understood English) and it was freezing cold at about -2C, with snow everywhere and we were approaching darkness.

Lot of good things and plus points.

My family held on to their nerves. Were more active than I was. My elder daughter who has just become a doctor told me, that because of stress, the hormones that were reacting to combat it, made her forget cold and helped her take charge of the situation. everyone contributed and stood by me.

I have survived a major Motorcycle accident when I was in my final year Architecture. Riding that Bike again after I came back from the accident was a Herculean task for me. After half an hour of driving, my back was soaked with sweat. But had I not taken that ride, I would have never been able to do anything in my life.

My biggest test will be on Saturday, when I leave from here for Lake Bled, Slovenia.
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Apr 20th, 2017, 03:57 PM
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I grew up driving in snow but still get can into frightening situations. How terrifying for you! But also how smart you are to travel with a doctor!
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Apr 20th, 2017, 04:00 PM
  #12
 
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So glad you are ok. Ice driving scares me. We had a surprise snow storm in Germany one time and our rental was horrible in the snow. Thinking they had not put snow tires on it. I can't imagine your kids and wife watching this!


Marija on Apr 20, 17 at 7:54pm You left us all hanging upside down on your Paris trip report. Are you ever going to tell us what happened after your crash?
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Apr 20th, 2017, 04:52 PM
  #13
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20th April 2017

Got up late at 7.30 am. I had slept for 10.30 hours. Partly because of the tablet I took last night and partly because of the stress.

I thanked God again in the morning. Am feeling fortunate to be alive and not hurt.
but I was feeling restless. Yesterday's scenes kept coming in front of my eyes.
It was snowing very heavily. Couldn't even think of venturing out.
It's -1℃ with heavy winds throughout the day.
Had breakfast. Checked emails. Did some drawings on laptop.

Priyanka and Roma played in snow in the balcony. Also made a snowman and an Ice Candy with Orange Tang. Later, poorva and Roma went to the indoor heated swimming pool. They were making the most of the time we had. They also went through trauma, but were coping well.

This made me feel lighter.

I was thinking that my Austria decision had backfired. Coming to the most scenic place in hostile weather was not a good idea. I could have changed my plan. But Kids reassured me that this was the best thing that could have happened. We haven't seen snow for such a long time. 1st 3 days weather changed all the time and we could sea 4 seasons in 4 hours. That is the plus and also minus point of traveling in April.
Our resort "Mondi holidays Ferienclub, Grundlsee" is really fabulous. One phone call a month before I arrived, ensured that we got the best apartment in the resort. We have a 2 Bedroom Apartment and kitchen dining. A wrap around balcony that opens to the best view on this planet. Snow clad Alps, Green coniferous trees reflecting in the the lake (When the sky clears up a bit). Right across is a lake side picture post card castle, pretty chalets on the slopes, Church spire adding beauty to the scene. We had all that one wants to see in Salzkammergut, right in front of our eyes.

The Cop came and delivered the Police report of the accident around 11.30am as promised.

I downloaded a few apps to translate the Police report from German to English. Report was not completely in my favour.

We were getting messages from Tom that the car has left and will arrive by 1 pm.
Tom called at 1.30 and informed that the driver was waiting at the id level parking with a new replacement car.

We went out. It was windy and freezing cold -2C in the afternoon, white snow everywhere. We met Marijan. He had driven for 5.30 hours from zagreb in a Toyota Suv with a wooden platform attached to it. He took the address of the place where the car was towed and parked at Bad Ausee.

He gave the key and papers of the Red Seat Leon that he had brought. It has enough place in the boot to accommodate our 5 bags.

This process was very efficiently and calmly managed by Tom.
I hope he keeps his promise of ZERO EXCESS and there are no surprises later.

I had the key of the new car within 18 HOURS AFTER THE ACCIDENT.
No questions asked.
This meant that our trip was on, almost as planned. We plan to leave at dawn on Saturday 22nd April, if weather permits.

It felt so good.

but I was still restless. Yesterday's memories were haunting me.
Finally decided to vent my emotions here on Fodors.
You guys have been there with me through the planning of all my trips and can understand me well.
It does make me feel lighter and stronger after this interaction.
Hoping for the best.
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Apr 20th, 2017, 05:09 PM
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So glad to hear that you and your family were unhurt. What a scary accident!
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Apr 20th, 2017, 05:45 PM
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So happy that you and your family were not hurt. A frightening experience! Hope the remainder of your trip was a happy experience.
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Apr 20th, 2017, 06:16 PM
  #16
 
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What a dramatic story! Glad everyone is OK, and hope the remainder of your trip is wonderful.

And FYI, -2C is extremely dangerous. At that temperature a thin layer of water forms under your tires or even your foot when you walk on ice. Everything becomes more slippery than it appears. This does not happen at colder temperatures, which can actually be safer with regards to slipping. Of course that is more dangerous with regards to freezing to death!

Wishing you the best.
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Apr 20th, 2017, 07:06 PM
  #17
 
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I'm so glad you all are surviving and moving on. It was a terrible thing to happen, but you seem to be handling it so well. It will take time to move on, but try to enjoy the rest of your trip.You are a strong family.
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Apr 20th, 2017, 08:36 PM
  #18
 
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I am very glad to hear that this traumatic event turned out to have a happy ending, however, I am distressed to read that no one would stop to help. This does not sit right with me.

I trust your future travels will all be without incident and provide you with pleasant memories.
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Apr 20th, 2017, 10:35 PM
  #19
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Thanks everyone for the good wishes and support.
This is a classic example of how we get engrossed in each other's lives and the community becomes a family and friends.
I am sure that the reaction of my mother, brother and close friends would be, that it's dangerous and foolish to drive abroad and I should refrain from driving abroad.

People who share the passion of travelling can understand me.

Thanks for all the support again.
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Apr 20th, 2017, 10:44 PM
  #20
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Mushkoka
For a moment I felt the same that no one is ready to help. But don't feel offended, because if they stopped, starting again would be equally difficult for them and there would have been a traffic jam in freezing snow and may have caused some more accidents and casualties.
They probably knew that the cops would arrive in no time.

The guy who banged on to my car was at a high speed but managed to minimise the damage
The cops were good and prompt too.
The taxi driver was good and did not overcharge after arriving on time.
Tom was good and supporting.
I take a lot of positives from this incident.
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