Although it is often said that a photograph is worth a thousand words, the carnage of what happened during a snowy Saturday afternoon in December is not how I intended to begin this article. So let’s rewind a couple months.

The Mazda MX-5 Miata Club was a wonderful piece of work that I had the pleasure to drive earlier this year in the twisty sections of asphalt at Bear Mountain State Park, just an hour out from New York City. In numerical terms, the performance of the Mazda MX-5 Miata Club PRHT is rather modest. The 2014 MX-5 Miata’s 2.0 liter inline-4 engine produces just 167-hp and 140 lb.-ft. of torque. However, due to an extraordinarily lithe chassis, the Mazda MX-5 Miata could dance around the lovely mountain roads better than cars that boast double or triple its power output. 

After my delightful, warm summer day spent with the Mazda MX-5 Miata Club, I wrote: “The brilliance of the Miata's Bridgestone Potenza RE050A is not high levels of grip, but rather its high levels of communication sent to my fingertips. When the Miata is driven with brio, the lively and lightweight chassis returns its affection as it moves its tail and dances around corners.” Alas, if only I remembered these details when the Miata was delivered to me once again. (Read my July Mazda MX-5 Miata Club review here)

While I was scheduled to have the 2014 Mazda MX-5 Miata Club for one week in December, I realistically had but one weekend to get acquainted with the car. Even though forecasts for the weekend weren’t ideal, us New Yorkers are used to Nor’easters. Besides, the MX-5 even came with an ice scraper in the trunk for the occasion.

Saturday was December 14, and although the snow had been falling, it has not been sticking, giving me the (false) confidence that conditions were acceptable to go hunt for a wintry backdrop for a festive photo shoot. However, the New York City snowfall uncharacteristically evolved for the worst just 20 minutes into my cruise around the neighborhood. Snow had indeed begun to stick, forming a one-eighth-inch layer of snow over the road.

Given the rapidly deteriorating conditions, I decided to return home. The lightweight rear-wheel-drive Miata Club made for an ideal dance partner for the summer mountain road, but it was now completely removed from its element. Concerned about traction, I short shifted to avoid spinning the rear and chose major roads for my slow journey home.

Unfortunately, my precautions were not enough to avoid catastrophe. While driving on a straight road, the landscape in the windshield slowly but suddenly began to shift sideways and it took half a second for my brain to register that the car had lost its rear. Desperate for control, I counter steered to bring the car back. Unfortunately, it was hopeless and I spent the last second before impact staring directly at the parked semi-truck that I was about to hit.

The eerie silence before impact was interrupted by the loud bang of disintegrating metal combined with the bang of an airbag deployment. It was extremely unpleasant, to say the least, but miraculously, I emerged from the accident unscathed. No bruises, no knots on the forehead, nothing.

Of the many things that went on in my mind following the crash, I could not be more relieved to know that my accident did not endanger another commuter. What’s more, kind neighbors that lived in the homes nearby rushed to my aid. Having never experienced an airbag deployment, it took me a little longer to gather myself and step out of the car.

After assuring the neighbors that I was fine, I dialed 911 for help and walked around the car to inspect the damage. The destruction concentrated at the passenger front of the Mazda Miata, displaying traits that are similar to the IIHS’ latest small-overlap crash. Everything from the passenger side door forward was virtually gone. Even the passenger front wheel and brake had torn itself apart from the suspension joints. Finally, a closer look at the tires told me that the Miata wore the same Bridgestone Potenza RE050A summer tires as I had tested at Bear Mountain.

The remaining weekend after the crash on Saturday were spent in bed before I prepared for Monday morning. Eventually, I exchanged information and details with the fleet manager that loaned me the car, with Mazda USA's insurance company, and had a difficult meeting with my editorial director.

As is the case with any shocking event, there is a lesson to be learned from what has happened to me. First, let's be clear that I did not HAVE to drive the Mazda Miata MX-5 Club that fateful afternoon--I only wanted to because I believed it was important to make the most out of the weekend or else I wouldn't have time during the rest of the week. No matter how skilled a person is with operating a vehicle in snowy conditions, nothing is ultimately safer than staying nice and warm at home, waiting for the treacherous conditions to pass.

In a faint parallel, Michael Schumacher's skiing accident on Sunday demonstrated that unexpected accidents can happen even when a person is equipped with the proper tools. Michael Schumacher is a conditioned athlete and an experienced skier that enjoyed only the best winter equipment, including a helmet that preserved his life--which brings me to the second lesson to be learned.

Check to see if you indeed have the right tools. Had I taken a moment to see that the Mazda Miata was equipped with Bridgestone Potenza RE050A summer tires in the middle of December, I would have had second thoughts before exposing myself to the elements. An excuse that begins with, "But I didn't think to..." is a lousy excuse and does absolutely nothing to right what has happened.

Finally, the last lesson is to forgive and never forget. Despite the wreck, the fact that no one got hurt could not be a better silver lining. That said, it is important to remember the accident and take every precaution to prevent it from happening ever again. Be safe out there.