The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

“I Have a Greater Appreciation for the Life I Have Now”: Man Who Saw Plane Crash in Concord Recalls Own Accident and Survival

Selfie by Andre Thompson

Andre Thompson’s work day took a shocking turn last month. The window and door assistant was on the job at Golden State Lumber, located at 1080 Burnett Ave. in Concord, when a coworker issued the bizarre statement: “A plane just crashed outside.”

The news was correct. On Jan. 30, a small plane went down at the busy intersection of Diamond Boulevard and Concord Avenue near the Buchanan Field Airport, less than two miles from Diablo Valley College. 

The pilot died in the accident, and the driver of a vehicle involved in the crash was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, according to CBS News. 

As Thompson went outside to observe the scene, which was quickly surrounded by firemen, emergency vehicles and police, an uncomfortable sense of familiarity washed over him as his own traumatic memory resurfaced.

“It was crazy to see,” said Thompson, speaking with The Inquirer later that day. “A block away from there is where I got hit about three years ago.”

In June 2021, Thompson was crossing the street on his lunch break when a driver, under the influence and uninsured, ran a red light and hit him.

“It was a nightmare scenario,” Thompson recalled. 

The accident, which caused him to crash through the driver’s windshield, resulted in a broken leg, six broken ribs, and lots of stitches in his head. Thompson spent three weeks in the hospital followed by four months at home in a hospital bed. He eventually made it to a wheelchair, then to crunches, and finally, a cane.

Thompson said it took about two years for him to get to the place he is now, which, as he put it, is about “95 percent normal functioning.”

However, the mental impact of the accident has left a more permanent mark than the physical one, said Thompson, who remembers the day as though it’s engraved in his brain. 

“I can take two steps off the street and feel that car hit me again,” he said. “I can recall every part of it.”

In the process of recovering, he added, his perspective on life shifted.

“I will never just mosey across the intersection when there are cars around,” Thompson said. He even feels nervous sometimes walking on the sidewalk, his mind filled with loud ‘what ifs,’ like, “what if a car just swerved onto the sidewalk and hit me.” 

Thompson realized yet again how detrimental the physiological impact of his accident had been as he witnessed the aftermath of the plane crash — specifically in comparing himself to his coworkers, who caught sight of the same scene.

“They all saw the same thing I saw,” said Thompson, “but most people didn’t seem to think about it as intensely. It was the only thing I could think of for the next hour.”

But in a more optimistic sense, the impact of his trauma also changed Thompson’s perception on life.

“Life is different now,” he said. Even simple pleasures like watching a football game or seeing a movie mean so much more to him.

“Everything is important now.” 

A long-time 49ers fan, Thompson described watching San Francisco come from behind on Jan. 28 to beat the Detroit Lions and advance to the Super Bowl, an experience he called “euphoric.”

“I just kept thinking, ‘I could have missed this,’” he said. “Things that happen now, any small or big events that happen post-getting hit by a car, it’s almost like it’s all a bonus.

“I have a total greater appreciation for the life I have now.”

View Comments (6)
About the Contributor
Ella Potts, Staff Writer

Comments (6)

By commenting, you give The Inquirer permission to quote, reprint or edit your words. Comments should be brief, have a positive or constructive tone, and stay on topic. If the commenter wants to bring something to The Inquirer’s attention, it should be relevant to the DVC community. Posts can politely disagree with The Inquirer or other commenters. Comments should not use abusive, threatening, offensive or vulgar language. They should not be personal attacks or celebrations of other people’s tragedies. They should not overtly or covertly contain commercial advertising. And they should not disrupt the forum. Editors may warn commenters or delete comments that violate this policy. Repeated violations may lead to a commenter being blocked. Public comments should not be anonymous or come from obviously fictitious accounts. To privately or anonymously bring something to the editors’ attention, contact them.
All The Inquirer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • H

    HumanKindFeb 22, 2024 at 9:57 am

    Andre, your traumatic experience resonated with my own accident. People who haven’t experienced physical & emotional trauma can not understand the life altering aspects for those who suffer with PTSD. By sharing your story, you’ve given insight to the depth of an ongoing recovery…. a life long healing. Folks need to slow down in life, appreciate what they’ve been blessed with and not take life for granted, and please don’t judge based on appearances. Andre’s story and many others need to be shared to simply create awareness at all levels.

  • R

    Rita MasinaFeb 22, 2024 at 7:59 am

    I really loved reading this article. Ella turned something that was tragic into something positive to read. So many times I turn the news on or read the newspaper and I soon after feel dread or loss of hope for our country, world, however, Ella has done the opposite here. I feel grateful for my life after reading this. My condolences to the pilots family and inspiration Andres story has left with me. Thank you

  • J

    Jeannine CherepyFeb 21, 2024 at 7:36 pm

    Wow, Ella! You truly have a gift for this! I’m so proud of you! And thinking of you Andre!

  • K

    Karen M CatanzaritiFeb 21, 2024 at 3:36 pm

    I loved this article. Such a great perspective on how one person’s life changed & how it all came back to him seeing someone else’s tragedy. Great writing Ella.

  • J

    JakeFeb 21, 2024 at 9:02 am

    Very inspiring article – a great recount of Andre’s story. Thoughtful, poignant writing, Ella!

  • M

    MindyFeb 20, 2024 at 1:35 pm

    Ella!!! ?♥️