I was in a field trip on 20th April to Wollongong, Port Kembla; a place where transport ships from Malaysia, China and Japan drop by the biggest steel manufacturing company in Australia.
At around 6am, my coach started to move out from Canberra to Wollongong. I was half-asleep in the coach, waiting to fall into a deep sleep, and reciting a Tibetan Buddhist prayer mantra called Migtsema.
The weather conditions were extremely poor as there was a massive, thick fog: it was a struggle to even see what was right in front of us on the road. About an hour later, we ran into an accident scene that nearly caused our coach to ram into another car and a tree beside the bushes. I was still half-asleep when suddenly I could feel the driver hitting very hard on the brakes, and hear the sharp screeching of the tyres fighting very hard against the road.
Everyone on the coach was badly shaking. I pressed my hand really hard against the seat in front of me, in order to try to protect my head. My mind was racing, screaming: “Not right now!! Not right now!! Not right now!!” I had the terrifying feeling that this was going to be my time to die.
I could hear the screaming from the rest of my team, but I felt so paralysed in the moment, I couldn’t even speak. Fortunately for us, the driver made a brilliant turn into the bushes and managed to avoid the accident scene ahead of us. He managed to stop the coach just two metres before the tree – two metres! It felt more like we were in a movie scene rather than real life.
Mr David, my course convener, immediately stood up to check that we were all OK. I was a bit stunned and a little shaken, but once I stood up from my seat to look out through the window, I couldn’t believe what I saw around me: another accident had occurred and it looked to be pretty serious. People were lying on the road side, and a car started to release poisonous gas (we could smell it from inside the coach).
The firefighters were already at the scene and quickly ran in our direction; unfortunately it seemed that there was a failure to block the road off due to the thickness of the fog.
Amazingly, I noticed that the white car damaged on the scene was the exact same car that took over our coach just a few minutes earlier and now lay ahead of us in pretty bad shape.
We remained at the accident scene for about twenty minutes, waiting for the fire fighters to allow us to move on in the fog, and in that time, we saw yet another three or four cars ahead of us, all severely damaged, with one or two of them being completely flipped over.
An hour later, I heard on the radio that the road had finally been closed…not a moment too soon, it was a very close call for us, thanks to the clever manoeuvering of our driver and the blessings of Tsongkhapa!