top of page
  • Nadya Tahri

How to cope when you are stranded on the side of the highway with a child with special needs

In todays blog post, I want to share a true story of a very stressful and dangerous situation that we were in and how I coped with it.

Last week, my father in law had heart surgery.

So Scott and I along with our two youngest kids, Isaiah and Josiah, we drove about 6 hours to get to Spokane, Washington (eastern Washington), to be there with my mother in law and father in law before he went in for his heart surgery.

We loaded up my mom's car because my mom's car has a lot more room than our car and we wanted more room to be able to pack the boys' equipment and stuff.

My mom was kind enough to let us borrow her car, bless her heart 💕

And, as you know, it is summer and eastern Washington gets a lot hotter than it does here in western Washington (where we live.)

So it was about 97 degrees outside……(almost 100 degrees) and I noticed while I was driving that my mom's light came on saying that we had 50 miles left before we would run out of gas.

Because her car gives you that kind of notification.

But then, it wasn’t but 5 minutes later and then another notification popped up on my moms dashboard of her car saying that now we only had 10 miles left before we would run out of gas.

And of course, we were in the middle of nowhere.

I looked at Scott and said “Oh no! This is not good! It just said we had 50 miles to go a little bit ago and now all of a sudden, it is saying that we only have 10 miles left to go.”

Then it quickly changed from saying that we had 10 miles left to go, to saying that we had 9 miles left, then 60 seconds later it said that we had 8 miles left to go and then it went down to only 7 miles left to go.

That is when I noticed that it would not let me accelerate anymore when I pushed down on the gas pedal. It wasn’t sputtering, but it just wouldn’t let me accelerate.

And so I was just thinking “Oh dear! This is Really NOT good!”

So I quickly went from the fast lane all the way to the left, over to the middle lane, and then from the middle lane, I tried to get over to the slow lane, but there was a bunch of semis over there and so it was really because it’s not like I could accelerate and so I was just trying my best to get totally off of the freeway before the car completely died or you know, ran out of gas!

And so, it was a Really stressful situation.

In addition, we were already feeling stressed because the whole reason why we were driving over there in the first place was to be there with my in-laws for support while my father in law had his heart surgery.

So we were already really worried about him and how he would do during the surgery.

My father in law had already had multiple surgery's in his life and he is getting older and it was just concerning. So we definitely wanted to be there to support them and so they knew how much we loved them.

So anyways, we did end up making it off the road (thank the Lord!) We made it off the freeway, but barely. We had just crossed that white line and my mom's car was still telling us that we had 4 miles left to go before we would run out of gas…...but then the car just turned off.

And so then I was like, “Oh CRAP!!! We are Really screwed because in my opinion, we were really close to the white line, where there were a ton of semis going past us.

My big concern was that if just one semi driver accidentally hit us, we would be toast!

The ironic thing is that it was just one day earlier, when I had gotten on the freeway to drive down to Portland, Oregon, and I saw a semi that had accidentally hit something and it smashed up the semi cab area and the bed of the semi was lying flat on its side.

They had a bunch of tow trucks that were trying to get the semi truck off of its side and tow it away. It was about 11am when I initially saw the tow truck companies trying to tow the semi and I am guessing that they ran into a bunch of problems trying to tow it because when I was coming back home that night at around 10pm when I was coming home that night….., they were still trying to tow the semi turned on its side away.

So, here it is the very next day, Monday and this is when my moms car runs out of gas and we are stuck on the side of the road and all of these semi’s are whizzing by us and I was totally freaking out because I knew good and well that all it would take was just one semi driver to glance down at his radio or glance down at his phone or look away for just a second, that I knew that it was a possibility that a semi might accidentally hit us.

Our car was so close to the white line when it died and I couldn’t get the car to start again or else I would have absolutely moved as far away from the white line as I possibly could have.

So that was really frustrating and very scary that I couldn’t move us away from the white line to an area where we would have been much safer.

But fortunately, Scott had me put the car in neutral and he pushed us (in the 100 degree weather)......bless his heart…... so that I could steer the car more onto the gravel area…..a little bit more away from the white line.

But still we were in a high danger area.

So anyways, we called AAA and they told us that they would put us as a high red alert, since we were in a dangerous area and said that they would text us as soon as someone would be able to come out to help us.

Oh!! Quick side note!!.......To make matters worse, of course I had to go to the bathroom!!


But anyways, I was so nervous about us possibly getting hit, and AAA wasn’t coming…..I mean, I thought it would maybe take AAA about 30 minutes to get to us, but they had said that they would notify us when someone was on their way to help us, but we still hadn’t received any notification that anyone was coming to help us.

Now, let me clarify…….

I have had AAA for YEARS!!!

But I have NEVER had them not respond within 30 minutes, not even a phone call or a text message… that was a little bizarre.

But anyways, so I got Isaiah and started walking up and down the freeway holding him, because our poor boys had spent about 5 and a half hours at that point, sitting in their car seats, because we had already driven a long way and we had also already stopped and filled up on gas about 30 minutes into our drive.

So I walked with Isaiah up and down the freeway in the 100 degree weather for about 45 minutes and I was REALLY hoping that somebody driving by, would….you know…..would see us and would pull over and ask if we needed any help. Plus we had our hazard lights flashing, so it was pretty clear that our car had broken down or that something was wrong.

All in all, it was pretty clear that we were broken down and that we needed help.

It’s not like it was a big secret or anything.

Quick question for you????

Out of All of those hundreds of cars that passed by us while I was holding Isaiah and walking up and down the freeway for 45 minutes…… how many cars do you think pulled over and asked if we needed any help?

Go ahead?



I really wish I could hear your answer.

But since I can’t, I will just go ahead and tell you.

I certainly wouldn’t want to leave you hanging with suspense!! 😂😂😂

So, of ALL of those hundreds of cars that passed by us while I was holding Isaiah and walking up and down the freeway for 45 minutes…….

NOT ONE car pulled over and asked if we needed any help!

Not One!!!


Honestly, that Totally shocked me!!

I thought for sure that at least one person would pull over and ask if we needed help.

Especially since we were way out in the middle of nowhere and it’s not like we could actually walk to get help ourselves.

I mean…...there was no home in sight.

There was no building of ANY kind in sight.

I found this especially surprising since we live way out in the country and I can say with certainty that it has 100% been my experience that people who live way out in the country tend to me more kind and helpful than people who don’t live out in the country.

They tend to overall be more thoughtful, courteous and willing to ask if you need help.

I don’t know.

Maybe it was because we were on a very busy highway and everyone passing by us thought that someone else would surely help us.

Or maybe it was the fact that it was 100 freaking degrees outside and they were thinking “NO WAY!!”


Oh yes…..did I mention that I was wearing a really long skirt and nice dress shoes, so it was obvious that I was not just out for a hike. Plus I was holding my 6 year old son AND I almost forgot to mention that it was 100 freaking degrees outside… I just thought that Someone would find it in their heart to pull over and ask us if we needed any help.

But NO!!

So in the end, we had to end up calling my mother in law and my father in law to get us some gas and drive 45 minutes to come help us.

All because AAA never came to help us and obviously no one else on the freeway pulled over to offer us help either.

So even though the Whole reason why we were driving over there in the first place was to be there for my father in law before he went into his heart surgery…… it turned out to be the other way around.

THEY ended up being the ones to help and support US!!

Bless their hearts!!


Tim had to go in at 5am the following morning for his heart surgery and it would have been Really nice if he could have just relaxed the evening before and gotten some good rest, but No!

Instead they had to drive 45 minutes to come rescue us!!

I felt SOO bad for them!! 😢😢

So all in all, we ended up being out there for just under 2 hours, in the 100 degree weather.

And when Tim and Luanne arrived, Tim and Scott started pouring the gas into the tank.

While they were doing that, I noticed that a police officer pulled up right behind Tim and Luann's car.


And I thought “Oh! That is interesting! I wonder why the police are stopping.”

Because you know, now we actually had help, but before we obviously didn’t have any help…..and if a police officer had stopped by earlier, then I would have been extremely grateful!!

But now I was like “HU!??”

Then the police woman got out of her car and she said that she had received a “concerned call from someone.”

So basically someone had called the police saying that they had seen a woman, ME, carrying a child (I was carrying Isaiah), and they said that the child looked limp.

So the person who called the police said that they were concerned because the child I was carrying looked limp.

Well, thank the Lord that someone called in!

Because you know what I got to thinking…..

What if the area that we had broken down in…...what if it had been in an area that didn’t get any reception?


Because way out there, there are a bunch of spots where there is no reception.


So, what if we couldn’t have even called AAA?

Well, turns out that AAA didn’t even help us anyways, but let’s just say that we couldn’t have called ANYONE!!

And we were stuck out there… the middle of NOWHERE!!


It’s a little bit scary to think, “What would you do!?”

I mean that in all seriousness!!

What would you have done!?


I mean, I would love to think that the people driving by on the freeway, if they see someone who has their blinkers on, that maybe they could…. pull over and offer “Do you need any help?”

Or maybe they could do what the one person did and call the police and say “I just saw something concerning.”

Either way, I wanted to bring this to our attention as well as two more things.

Number one, have you ever been in a situation, where you ended up being stranded on the side of the road with your child with special needs?

If so, I would love to hear from you. I am genuinely curious to know how you got out of that situation.


And number two, even if you don’t end up being stranded on the side of the road or even if you have never been stranded on the side of the road….

I would like to bring it to all of our attention, that if you don’t feel comfortable stopping to ask if people need help……

Because I totally understand that not everyone feels safe to pull over and ask strangers if they need any help.

Especially if you are a female and it’s just you and your child with special needs in the car, you may not want to stop. I totally get it!

Or you may not want to stop if you can see that it is a man or several men that are needing help. I get that that could feel maybe intimidating or possibly unsafe to pull over.

I mean, obviously safety is number one priority!


I did like the fact that those people, whoever they were, I mean, I really wish that they had actually pulled over and asked us if we needed help, BUT…….

I am at least grateful that they called the police and that the police stopped by to make sure that we were ok.

So what I’m getting at here, is that I really think that we all should have each others back!!

That is ALL I am trying to say.

So when you are in a situation where you see a car, especially when it is 100 degrees outside!!

It doesn’t hurt anything to at least call the police and at least say “Hey! I see something alarming. It looks like there are some people that are on the side of the road that need some help.”


And that way, the police can be notified.

ESPECIALLY if you are in the middle of NO WHERE!!!! Where you can not even walk to help!!

So that was a Really stressful situation and I really hope that you don’t ever have to go through that.

But let’s just all have each others back and if you ever see a vehicle stuck on the side of the road….it doesn’t hurt to just the police really quick and let them know.

I know most all of us do have a cell phone, so we can just pull over like at the next exit or whatever.

Because I sure do wish that someone would have called the police earlier, because let me tell you… was ROUGH!!!

I mean 100 degrees!


No air conditioning!!

Definitely not something that I want to repeat again!

So as always, I would absolutely LOVE to hear from you!

Let me know if you have ever been in a situation where you have been stranded on the side of the road, and if so, how did you get out of that situation?

And also, in a quick recap…..

If you ever see someone stuck on the side of the road, especially during the summer or when it’s really hot, let’s all just do that quick phone call and help each other out.

I know that I am super grateful that those people called the police to help us out.

So it all ended up working out.

Ok, one last time!! I really would love to hear from you!!


~ If you are a parent of a child with special needs, I would Love to have you in my private FB group. It is a safe environment, strictly for parents who have a child with special needs, where you can get the encouragement and support from other parents who can relate to what you are going through. The name of my private FB group is called “Special Needs Parenting SOS”. Just click this link if you'd like to join my private Facebook group

#stranded #desert #outofgas #highway #police #help #97degrees #hot #AAA #needhelp #exhausted #cartroubles #heart #heartsurgery #inlaws #support #travel #summer #heat #specialneedskids #specialneeds #specialneedschildren #specialneedsparents

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page