Sunday, May 28, 2006

A Somber Reminder This Holiday Weekend

My girls and I were coming home from church this afternoon and just a few miles short of our home we come upon a grisly scene. A late model Mustang overturned in the ditch. 4 state troopers with lights going just about had the 2 lane road blocked off, one trooper was out pacing off the skids with the little rolling measuring stick thingy they use. The local ambulance was there and a large, dark SUV was slowly pulling up alongside the wreckage. (I knew who that was, but my girls didn't...the coroner.)
There were a few other cars pulled over, waiting to be flagged through. So I asked if anyone knew what had happened. Noone did, aside from someone had just been air-evac'd out.
So we sat and waited. I knew they were just about wrapped up there.
I seen the coroner with a sheet and an assistant carrying a backboard go off behind the wreck.
"Mom, what's going on?" my eldest asked.
"That's the coroner, hon." I said, "Both y'all say a prayer right real quick. There's some family out there that will never enjoy this holiday ever again."
The girls both bowed their heads and said some silent prayers. I too paused and said a few words as well.

After a couple minutes the coroner and his assistant emerged from the ditch with a sheet covered body on the backboard, they loaded it into the back of the big SUV. It looked so small, but that could have just been because we were viewing from a distance. We were stopped about 200 feet from the scene.

The body loaded, the SUV got turned around and headed on the highway towards town. The girls stared as they passed. They had never witnessed anything like that before. And I must admit, it was a first for me, too. I had come upon accident scenes before, but never where if there had been a fatality, I saw the removal of the victim.

Now all we had to do was wait for the state boys to kick aside some of the bigger chunks of debris and allow us through. It was at that point I began to speculate, out loud to my girls as to the nature of the wreck.
I told them I could say almost with a certainty that A) All the passengers were under 18, B) No one had their seatbelts on. And C) The driver wasn't familiar with this road and was going way too fast.

This stretch of highway has some especially wicked curves and small hills all within a short length, so much so I always have called it the 'whoopty whoop' because at the right speed-and skill and good tread, it does give one an amusement park-like effect. Dangerous as hell if you ain't familiar with it. But having drove that stretch for over 20 years I no longer give it any thought, other than be alert!

"Now, do you guys understand why I make such a big deal out of y'all not being foolish once you get your licenses?" I asked them. "I don't want that to be either one of you!" I figured I was laying it on a little thick and might have been scaring them so I just hushed up at that point. Figured once we were allowed to pass I'd let the wreckage do the talking.
They finally allowed traffic to go through and, like everyone else, we crept past the crash. Holy Mother of God! They must have come flying through there, judging by the skids and the scalping on the shoulder and asphalt. At least 2 wheels had been sheared off the axles and the Mustang was a flatten mass laying on its roof in the ditch...that is, if it even had one, might have been a convertible, one couldn't tell! 2 words: Pretty bad!

The girls just stared silently. They didn't say a word the rest of the way home. I think the point had been made.

A couple hours later we found out that the fatality had been a 16 year old boy. The female passenger...also a teenager, had been air lifted to the hospital. Both were from a neighboring town about 20 miles away, so they probably weren't real familiar with the road. And yep- No seatbelts. Betcha the kid has just got his license!

Dammit, I hate when I'm right! Especially about something like this. Just so horribly sad. There's 2 families out there right now who are having the worst holiday weekend ever.
And it's a tragic reminder to all of us to take it easy this weekend.
Now, if you'll excuse me-I have to go hug my kids.


Blogger Fish said...

That may have been the best safe driving lesson your children ever learn. I've been a licensed driver for over 50 years without an accident. Part of that I attribute to having to help pick up a couple such accidents when I was a teenager. There were fatalities and they were friends of mine. In those days, small town, we didn't have paramedics and the like. Whoever was available went to help.

5/29/2006 10:28 AM  
Blogger white trash republican said...

Sad to say, Fish, but I think you're right. Both are just a couple years away from getting their learner's permits, so this won't be forgotten so quickly.

We're in a very rural area, so even still, first responders are whomever comes upon the scene. I wondered how long those kids were there until help did arrive. Traffic is light on that highway, even for a holiday weekend. And it's a 20 mile or longer drive for the ambulance to get there.
That just gives me chills!

5/29/2006 10:45 AM  
Blogger Elmer's Brother said...

I've come across a couple of these type accidents before..tragedy. I'll be praying too.

5/29/2006 7:05 PM  

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