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Klugh impacted by catastropic car fire

THURS. | 11-3-22 | FEATURES

     Seven minutes. In that short period of time, junior Jordan Klugh watched as her life changed in front of her eyes, watching her car go up in flames.

     Klugh has always had a fear of driving due to an incident earlier in her life.

     “When I was in the third grade, I was in a car accident, and ever since then, I have been super on edge about driving,” Klugh said. “Then my car blew up, so now I really hate driving.”

     Even when Klugh got her driver's license around a year ago, a moment of freedom some teenagers anticipate for 

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Photo contributed by Jordan Klugh

years, she was still hesitant about driving.

     “I was freaking out [because] I didn’t like driving,” Klugh said. “The first time I drove by myself was to Food Lion, two [to] three months after I got my license, which is like three minutes from my house.”

     Over the last several months, Klugh has gotten used to the roads and comfortable enough to drive to the river. Everything had gone smoothly until this past September. 

     “Honestly looking back now, around a couple weeks before this happened, my electricals shut down one time,” Klugh said. “I was in my driveway and all the sudden…everything just cut off.”

     A few weeks later, she was on the way home from the river with her younger sister Taylor and her two dogs when things started to go severely wrong. 

     “We were at the river, pulling out of the driveway, about 50 minutes from [Greenville] and my car shut off again, all the electricals,” Klugh said. “We get down the road maybe two minutes and everything shuts off again, but I am still able to drive.”

     Klugh and her sister decide to stop at Bojangles when the car cuts off once again. By the time the two got back to their neighborhood, the electricals in the car had cut off around eight times and things were progressively getting worse as they got closer to home. 

     “The radio was off, air off, all my lights were off, dashboard off, but I could still drive the car,” Klugh said. “Then, my steering wheel started locking up and I couldn’t press the accelerator anymore; I was flooring it and we were moving so slow.”

     Klugh decided the best thing to do was to pull over and figure out what was wrong. She immediately called her dad to fill him in and he then told her to call her grandfather to come look at it. At this point, the key wouldn’t even turn as they were sitting in the car, pulled over in front of somebody’s house with the windows down, so the dogs could get some fresh air. 

     “I am on the phone and Taylor says ‘Jordan, is that smoke?’,” Klugh said. “I’m looking around like ‘what are you talking about’ and…[see] a bunch of white smoke coming out of the hood of the car.”

     As she was getting out of her car to figure out how to pop her hood, a familiar neighbor happened to be walking by and jumped in to help Klugh and her sister. She told them to get the dogs out of the car in case something happens. 

     “The smoke was getting really bad, and a minute or two after we got the dogs out the flames started,” Klugh said. “Then from there, it just took over the entire car super quickly.”

     This scene was a lot to take in for Klugh as she stood back and watched the flames take over her car. 

     “I remember thinking ‘this is the kind of stuff that happens in movies and happens to other people, this doesn’t happen to me’,” Klugh said. “I was filming it, I don’t even remember why, but I have videos of my hand shaking and was super freaked out.”

     Luckily, several neighbors had stopped to help at this point, which Klugh is very thankful for. Someone called 911 and responders were there within three minutes. They immediately sprung into action and got the fire out.  \

     “I had a bunch of emotions…but the main thing I remember feeling was so high on adrenaline that I probably could have run three miles in that time span of watching my car burst into flames,” Klugh said. “Even talking about it now I am shaking; It’s so bad.”

     Despite the efforts of the first responders, Klugh did lose almost everything in her car. She was on her way back from a trip to the river, so all of her bags were in the trunk. 

     “I lost not just the car, but my computer, my entire school bag, my airpods and my retainers, all in the fire,” Klugh said. “After, when we had to replace all the stuff that was lost, I told my parents ‘look, I need to get this stuff, but I don't need to be in a car right now’.”

     After going through this traumatic experience, Klugh was shaken up for several days after. 

     “When you see fear and PTSD in movies, you don’t think people are being for real about it, but it is such a real feeling,” Klugh said. “I have never had that feeling where I was just shaking and the feeling where you can’t eat afterwards.”

     Fortunately, Klugh has since recovered, but things will never be the same. The other week her radio wouldn’t work in her new car, which sparked bad memories. 

     “I am driving again, but even now if something is off in my new car, I still get anxious about it because that was what happened with my old car,” Klugh said. 

     Through these tough times the past month, Klugh has found some clarity. She recalls a guardian angel pin she got as a gift from her grandparents and had on her sun visor before the accident. Klugh has since replaced it with a new one as a symbol of her faith. 

     “Afterwards I thought, ‘there is a reason that you are on this planet and there have been two incidents now that you could have easily been taken out of this world and you just weren’t’,” Klugh said. “I definitely look at my faith differently and also what my purpose is on the planet.”

     Klugh has acknowledged that going through something like this has not only strengthened her faith, but also opened her eyes in the way she views the world around her. 

      “I was reading something a teacher posted saying that she treats every student like she doesn’t know what they are going through,” Klugh said. “After everything that has happened I have been looking at people thinking ‘I wonder how their day has been’ because looking at me walking into Target that afternoon, you would have never known that I just lost so much in the car fire or that I could have lost my life.”

     After reflecting over the past month, Klugh has come to the conclusion that she wants to live her life more open minded. 

     “I am going to try not to be as uptight about a lot of things because you never know what could happen,” Klugh said. “You really have to live life like you might not be here tomorrow because you never know.” 

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