A Brush with Death

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would not be here speaking to you today if it weren’t for one foot of space [show hand span]. 

About 10 years ago, I had a brush with death.


It still sends chills down my spine when I think of it. 


While studying in the United States, I decided to spend my summer vacation working as a communications intern for the American Heart Association in Columbus, Ohio. On weekends, I would get into my car and drive the 2 hours to Ada, my college town.

My Ford Taurus car was gleaming white beauty. She purred like a contented cat when I drove her. With her 3.8 litre engine, she could travel at speeds of 130 km/h easily.

One Friday evening, I was making my way back to Ada and looking forward to the weekend. I noticed that there were several road diversions. The highways were closed as summer was the only season where major road construction could take place. I was already running late because I had to complete a report and the road diversions were not going to help.

One of my friends, Justin, was about to celebrate his 18th birthday. We were going to have a scrumptuous meal at Damon’s Ribs, which served succulent, juicy, mouth-watering steaks as big as a dinner plate. They also served milkshakes which had about five scoops of ice-cream in each glass. The milkshake was so thick, it was impossible to use a straw, you had to eat it with a spoon.

As I was driving on the small country road, I began to accelerate, to do my best to make up for lost time. The country road was barely wide enough for 2 cars to pass each other.

As I was thinking about the party that night, I began to slow down as a approached a sharp left turn. I slowed down from 80 kilometres per hour to 70 to 60 [slow]… when suddenly, my car skidded on loose gravel on the road and SWERVED into the left lane and nearly went into a ditch. I jerked the steering wheel to the right, and luckily the car swerved to right again. I had to pull on the wheel with all my strength to avoid the ditch on the right side of the road.

Though it felt like eternity, the next five seconds were like a hellish rollercoaster ride. I saw the world shake from side-to-side in synchronisation with the car’s erratic movement.

I continued to wrestle with the wheel which appeared to moved with a life of it’s own. I finally lost the battle with the steering wheel.

The car went off the road and was flying through the air.

My thoughts were in a blur. [FAST] Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this? Am I going to die? What will it be like?

[THUMP] the car landed on the ground hard and the car skidded off the road. The car tires cut a path through the soft earth, cutting two sets of grooves like railroad tracks. It started sliding sideways through the soft earth, the tires cutting twin grooves in the ground like railroad tracks.

Abruptly the car stopped….. for a split second, as it hit some rocks. I felt the whole world spin, as the car turned over and flew through the air yet again. I was the world upside down for all of 2 seconds, before the ground came rushing up at me.

The car had landed on its roof.

This is it, I thought, the weight of the car will be too much for the roof to bear, and it will crumple and collapse and I will die. The whole car will land on top of me and I will end up as a bloody, mangled mess.

I saw cracks appear on my windshield, and they spread like lightning across the windshield. I hear the doors start to creak and begin to crumple.

As the whole world around me start to collapse, there I was still suspended in mid air, upside down, suspended by my seat belt.

I closed my eyes and shouted “Please God, if I have to die, make it painless. I don’t want to suffer. I want to die quickly.”

Everything stopped.

Had I died? I couldn’t feel any sensation in my body at all. Was I in heaven?

I opened my eyes.

I was alive!

I was breathing!

All around me was carnage

There was shattered glass sprayed all over the car interior.

I released my seat belt, collapsing on the roof of the car.

As I pulled on the door handle, the door refused to open.

The door frame had crumpled and would never open.

I slowly crawled out of the car window and as I smelled the grass in front of me, I never realised that grass could smell that sweet.

I crawled about 5 metres away from my car and lay on my back, closed my eyes.

I was shaken some time later, by a female police officer.

“Are you all right?” she said, looking at me.

“I guess so. I hit my head pretty hard. I seem to be in one piece”

“It’s good you were wearing your seat belt. Someone must have listening to your prayer today.”

“Do you see that big, thick telephone pole next to your car?”

I looked, nodding.

“If the car skidded one foot more, it would have gone right through your car. [pause] You are a very lucky man”

I looked at her and nodded.

I will always remember.[PAUSE]

I am alive because of one foot of space.

Manual : Story Telling (AP2 – Let’s get personal) 
Speech Objectives : 
* Learn the elements of a good story 
* To create and tell an original story based on a personal experience 
Time: 6-8 mins

Note: This is an Advanced Project Speech Presented by CTM Andrew Wee on 26th July 2003 at TRL Toastmasters Club.

Andrew was the best prepared speech speaker for the day