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THE BAY AREA QUAKE : 5:04 P.M. : A TIME WHEN LIVES CHANGED : Tales of the Quake: Death, Heroes and Luck : Nimitz Victim Went Blank Just Before the Collapse

October 20, 1989|MARIA NEWMAN

There are things that Ken Lind can't explain.

The gash in his forehead. His purple eye. The bruises on his stomach. His sprained ankles. The scrapes on his arms. The cut on his chin.

Lind, 31, sells bakery equipment. The last thing he remembers is leaving the Otis Spunkmeyer Cookie Factory in San Leandro sometime around 4:45 p.m. and heading north toward home in Hercules, near Pinole.

"I don't know where my car is," he said. Actually, it's his wife's car, and that makes it worse. They had bought it for her less than a month ago.

All he knows is that the Nimitz Freeway is halfway between the Spunkmeyer Cookie Factory and his home. And he knows he usually takes the Nimitz. Now he is at Merritt Hospital in Oakland, and nurses have told him that an earthquake slammed the upper deck of the Nimitz squarely down onto the lower deck at 5:04 p.m.

He woke up in a CAT scan machine. Otherwise, he remembers nothing.

"I don't even know how I got here." Since there is no record of any ambulance bringing him, nurses think it was a Good Samaritan citizen. When he arrived, the emergency room at Merritt was too busy to take names.

"There are marks on me from the car stopping really, really fast," he said. "They think maybe something fell down right in front of me, and I ran smack into it. They have been pulling little pieces of concrete from my head. It's pretty depressing. I keep looking for the car when I watch TV. They tell me they'll find it, maybe when they finishing clearing it all up--the mess.

"I don't even remember putting on the brakes. . . ."

"My wife was waiting for me to drive her home from our shop. I never showed up. I woke up here, and I asked them to call my wife. . . .

"I wrecked her brand new car." Ken Lind laughed nervously. He stopped sharply.

"I can't laugh. It hurts to laugh. I can't cough. I'll just lie here and wait for everything to get repositioned. Everything moves. It's just that everything is real sore. I'll be OK.

"It bothers me a lot not to know what happened. It's like somebody just turned the switch off."

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