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How it feels to be dragged by a moving car

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How it Feels Malcolm

Malcolm Reynolds, a 2020 graduate from the University of Kansas, got caught under a car when he was 6 years old. He shares his story about how it feels to be dragged by a car.

During a summer camp out at Solomon’s Island, 6-year-old Malcolm Reynolds—a 2020 theatre graduate of the University of Kansas from Upper Marlboro, Maryland—fell asleep on a hot summer’s day. A driver, parked in the grass at the campsite, couldn’t see him and backed into him, causing him to get trapped under the back of the car as his body was dragged for a mile on the gravel road.

This is how it feels to be dragged by a moving car. 

During a summer camp day, my friend and I were looking for a way to pass the time while waiting on our parents to finish talking. Seeing a kid with a new Gameboy I didn’t have yet, I ran to his side to watch him play the game. 

Hours passed, and eventually my body must have succumbed to exhaustion from playing outside all day. I laid down beneath a tree at the campsite and fell asleep. 

The next thing I heard were voices yelling my name.

“Malcolm! Malcolm!” 

I tried to move but my limbs wouldn’t work. I couldn’t figure out how to move because I couldn’t see anything in front of me. I could only hear the voices screaming.

What I didn’t know was that my body had been pulled under a moving car. 

As I was sleeping, a truck parked in the grass in front of me backed up to get out. The driver couldn’t see me under the tree, and before I could open my eyes, some part of my clothing or body got stuck under the back of the truck. Still, nobody knows exactly how. 

My friend saw the car start to back up into me and ran over screaming my name to wake up.

He tried to untangle me, but got his own ankle stuck in the process. He finally got free, but only after his ankle had been mauled almost to the bone by the tire. He hobbled away yelling to tell people I was stuck under the car.

The car took off going pretty fast, most likely close to 50 or 60 mph. While being dragged on the gravel, I didn’t have any consciousness of what was going on. To cope with the pain, I could only see one scene replay in my mind again and again. 

All I could see was a dream-like cartoon: a stick figure being run over by a huge, prehistoric wheel, over and over again. 

I would wake up for a second and would pass out again as soon as my body would feel the pain. I couldn’t tell the difference between the dream and reality. I could only see the figure being crushed again and again.

Meanwhile, my friend was trying to get people to help me. Parents of the other campers ran after the truck and a few drove to get the driver’s attention. I didn’t know exactly how, but I knew people were coming after me. Eventually, around a mile later, the woman driving the truck stopped, and the people around helped get me out from under the car. 

The only thing I could hear was the sound of muffled noises. My hearing had been damaged from my head being dragged on the gravel. I learned after that a circle of people were praying around me, giving me space as the ambulance was on its way. When I first opened my eyes, all I could see were dark, blurry shapes chanting around me. They sounded inhuman, making high-pitched noises.

Before my eyes and ears adjusted, I thought I woke up to aliens surrounding me. 

Then, I could hear my dad’s voice yelling, and he began to take shape running towards me right as I heard police sirens. 

As soon as I saw my dad, I realized how hard it was to breathe. Breathing felt like my chest was caving in on itself and stabbing every part of me. 

I could see his face running towards me, but before he could get to me, I saw an officer push him up against the side of a car to keep him from overcrowding me in his panicked state. I couldn’t move, but could hear him yelling my name, and yelling no.  

The next thing I knew, I was in an ambulance with my dad at my side, unaware of the pain in my temple and side. I fell unconscious again, only to wake up to a strange feeling and loud, whirring noises. I didn’t know where I was, but I knew I was in a place I’d never been before.

“Where am I?” I asked out loud. 

I was told I was in a helicopter on the way to a hospital, which was the first time I’d ever been in the air. 

The next time I woke up I was in the hospital surrounded by family. My collarbone was broken, my right ear was almost off and I had tire marks all over my thigh. I had to have head surgery where the doctors drilled a little hole into the side of my head to get all of the gravel out. For the next week, I couldn’t eat without a feeding tube.

My physical therapy required me to walk around because my legs were all messed up, but the asthma I developed from the accident made any physical activity difficult.

It would still take months at home to recover from the hearing and sight damage, and the scrapes to the side of my head and body where the gravel had torn and embedded in my skin. 

Today, things feel slightly uneven on the right side of my body, which was most damaged in the accident, and doctors say I have the chance of going blind anytime, even as soon as tomorrow. 

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