Feature - Fiero Safety Testimonial...

by Todd Tilton

This accident occurred on November 6, 1996. Our thanks to Captain Joseph Arizzi of the Wauconda Fire Department for supplying the photographs that accompany this Article.

Fiero Safety. Just another misunderstanding for all non-Fiero fans. I would like to take a moment of your time and tell you my personal story of Fiero safety. It all started with purchasing my first new car, a ‘86 Silver SE. I used it for driving to work for about six years. I then put it in storage for three years. After that I drove it only in the summer for the next two years, and as you can see by the pictures here, the car has been permanently retired.

This car had given me over ten years of fun and excitement while driving to work, to doing several autocross’, even when I needed it the most, it came through like a champ. I was headed for work down a road that I have taken a hundred times before, in all kinds of weather. This time it had just rained, leaving the roads wet. I rounded a corner and my rear tires slipped. [This would not have been a problem if only I would have acted on the article about tires in a previous issue of Fiero Focus.]

My car ended up sliding sideways right into the front of a full sized pickup truck which was coming straight at me going 50 m.p.h. I saw the grill of the truck hit the passenger window - glass went flying everywhere. I heard a loud "thud" just milliseconds thereafter. I quickly came to a complete stop. For a moment I was in pain and could hardly breath. It lasted for only a couple of seconds and then I found myself just sitting in my seat.

From my seat I could tell my head was cut and my shirt did not look very good around my elbow. I decided to start checking to see if I was OK. I found that I could move my feet and legs without pain. I could also move my hands and arms without pain. I could move my head side to side, but it was a little sore. While I was checking myself out, I realized my back was killing me. I decided it was best to let the professionals worry about my back for now. I then looked down and could see that my seat belt was missing. I thought to myself "that’s strange, I know I was wearing it". I reached over and reclined my seat. Oh, that felt better!!

By this time everyone traveling on the road was stopping to see if I was still alive. I heard a lady shout that she would go to the gas station and call for help. Then a man started walking towards my car. When I was looking side to side I could tell that the only window that survived was next to me, the driver’s door. I could not see behind me, but I had a feeling it didn’t look good. As soon as the guy walked behind me and kneeled down to talk, it became obvious that the entire back of the car was missing!

The police and fire department arrived soon after that. They took my vital signs and made sure that I was OK. I was ready to get-the-heck out of there. An ambulance came and I got more vitals taken and a neck brace. They decided to take me out through the driver’s side door, but it was jammed. They ended up prying it opened.

I was laid on a back board, then put on the stretcher and placed in the ambulance. Off to the hospital I went and straight into the ER. I was cleaned up and presented to the doctor. I had never seen so many pieces of glass in my life - and the fact that it was on me, in me and all around me was a scary thought. The doctor looked me over and sent me down for some x-rays. The x-rays they took were only of my spinal column, luckily everything showed that I was OK.

Back to the ER. It was time for the stitches. Soon after, my wife walked in. I was so happy to see her. I decide not to tell her much about the car other than we would be needing a new vehicle. She told me later that she was glad she didn’t see the car first, otherwise they would have had to put her on a stretcher too! I also got to see the wonderful sight of my two daughters. I had a cut above my eye which required 18 stitches.

I took a couple days off from work to recuperate. It took a while for my daughters to get used to looking at "Dad Frankenstein". I couldn’t do much but walk around. Two days after the accident I went to my doctor and found out I had a broken rib. Out of this accident, all I ended up with was a broken rib and 18 stitches. I think that is incredible. I realize how very fortunate I was.

Since this time I have had to listen to so many people tell me how unsafe Fiero’s are. When I ask them why they think it is unsafe, I usually get the response "because the car is so small". For the time period of the car being made and for the size of the car, I believe I was in the safest car available. I feel I am living proof of this fact. I ask you, how many cars do you think you could come out of as well as I did if you were hit by a pick up truck hard enough to cut your car in half?

If you are wondering about the pick up truck, it was totaled also. The driver choose not to wear a seat belt and ended up with at least 50 stitches and injuries to the chest. He had to stay in the hospital for several days. Ironically one of the paramedics said, "I bet you get a pick up truck now". I refrained from telling him that I did not know because I wanted to see how the guy in the pick up truck was doing. Safe driving!

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