Pain and fear on the road to NOLA

Getting to a BCS bowl is never easy. This year’s Sugar Bowl in New Orleans was no exception for the observer and a certain group of University of Louisville football fans.

Requires getting up at 4:30 in the morning. Quick cup of coffee, a couple of blueberry muffins and it’s the door. Off to catch the charter coach at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, along with about 150 on the Cardinal Sports/Rivals buses.

Shortly after boarding the vehicle, the observer feels a slow throbbing in his lower right side. Suddenly anything and everything is annoying, the seats are too close, the onboard lights too bright and the chatter of happy Cards fans is more like a hen party. Throb, throb, throb.

The martyr endures it without saying anything for a couple of hours, holding head in hands, putting head on back of seat in front of him, resting head against the window.the pain won’t go away. After a break at a rest stop and a walk around the building, he reveals to Barbara that he thinks he’s having a kidney stone attack.

She suggests four Advil tablets and, after about 20 minutes, the pain subsides a bit. Two more doses of the same will calm him down until the bus is just north of Hattiesburg, the home of Southern Mississippi.

All of a sudden there’s a loud thud, the bus has either hit something or somebody or vice versa. The bus rocks sharply, the driver hits the brakes, the vehicle leans to the right, visions of multiple rollovers coming quickly to mind. Miraculously the bus stays upright. All the passengers silently giving thanks that they will get to the Sugar Bowl.

At first, we don’t know whether the bus has hit another vehicle, an animal or a human being. Someone says a car swerved into the bus. We won’t know whether the driver survived for several more minutes.

The driver of the car has survived and is okay, having veered to the left and into the median. The car is from Nelson County, Ky, probably a UofL fan and his car has been totaled. That would be confirmed 20 minutes later. But the Mississippi State Police will have to investigate, fill out all the paperwork, and the Louisville buses will be delayed at least an hour and a half.

A scary, sobering feeling, that momentary fear for the lives of all the passengers, but a diversion nonetheless. The bus driver gets a round of applause on handling the frightening situation. We hope the UofL fan from Nelson County makes it to the Sugar Bowl, somehow.

The bus is off again, the throbbing is starting up again. No Bourbon Street for the observer this night. He’s nursing his Advil.

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

4 thoughts on “Pain and fear on the road to NOLA”

  1. Wow, we were really lucky, kudos to our cool driver who quickly got our bus under control. Could have been really bad,considering the rainy road. After our nerves settled, most of us stood out in the drizzle beside the interstate, throwing up the L sign to the steady stream of Cards fans driving by. GO CARDS!!!

  2. Oh my, Charlie! Sorry you and the other fans were so impacted. My guess is that caused all to miss the party tonight at the House of Blues (which was crowded, but, in the end, a nice affair). Now, hope that the kidney stone situation resolves itself! What a nightmare of a trip!

  3. Glad you’re okay.

    It was probably some jealous USM fan that is responsible for this, somehow, someway.

    You were in enemy territory, after all.

  4. Saw the accident as we drove by…glad to hear the driver was okay, even if it was a rotten way to start a road trip. Hope a big win tonight makes it all worthwhile. Geaux Cards!

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