California State University, Northridge

A 4-car pileup could have been tragic. Instead, it brought an unlikely group of Angelenos together

A 4-car pileup could have been tragic. Instead, it brought an unlikely group of Angelenos together

The moment of impact was more disorienting than terrifying. Oh damn, I thought, someone just crashed into me. Very quickly, I took an inventory: My limbs were intact. The air bag did not explode in my face. My car was wrecked, but yep, I was still alive.

On Friday about 10 p.m., I collided with an unlikely group of Angelenos, people I probably never would have met under any normal circumstance. Catastrophe, even a minor one, has a way of doing that. And even though the situation was fraught, I came away marveling that no matter where we come from, or who we are, kindness and empathy always trump suspicion and fear.

I had been sitting at a red light on...

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