Salt Lake City, UT – 2006
It was a beautiful and ordinary day. My girlfriend picked me up from work and we headed home. We were listening to the radio and talking as we pulled up to the stop light behind one other car. As we talked, we heard a flat smack sound in front of us.
We looked forward just in time to see a car run full-speed into the light pole next to us. It had been accelerating to beat a red light and another car turned left in front of it, expecting it to stop. The car turning left had bumped this car off course as it sped through the light, causing it to veer through the intersection and into the light pole. The car had been doing at least 55 miles per hour and came to a dead stop in an instant.
We could barely believe what we had seen. This car came to a stop less than ten feet away from us. The hood was smashed all the way up to the windshield. Kate screamed and I jumped out of the car and ran over to the wreck, dialing 911 as I ran. I was the first responder by a long shot.
I opened the door of the car and looked in. A man was laying on his side across the floorboards into the passenger side. I checked for a pulse on his neck and could feel nothing. He had blood in his ears and nose. He was completely unresponsive. He had not been wearing a seat belt and his airbag hadn’t deployed. I knew instantly from looking at him he was a goner.
By this time I had made contact with 911. I told her what I had witnessed and that I was standing with the victim in the car. She instructed me to get the man out of the car if I could. By this time three or four other people had arrived on the scene. Another man and I dragged the driver out of the car and lay him on the grass. He had no pulse and was not breathing. I relayed all of this to the 911 dispatch and heard sirens approaching. By the time I was off the phone, paramedics were on the scene taking vitals and strapping the man to a gurney.
I walked back to the car, which was now blocking traffic. Kate was still in the vehicle and she asked what I had seen. I told here that I was sure the man was dead. We sat in shock of what we had just witness and grieved for the man and his family. This guy was probably just going out to eat or to run an errand; now he was gone. Life is a fragile thing.
Later that evening while watching the news we discovered that the man had died. We couldn’t believe how close we were to a death that day, that it could just happen right next to you like that.
On a separate occasion, Kate and I watched a semi trailer turn over on the freeway while traveling full speed. We were driving from Auburn, Alabama to Houston, Texas. I was driving. Suddenly we heard a strange screeching sound. She sat up straight and said, “What is that?” and we both looked forward in time to see a semi truck turn over on its side in the oncoming lane on the other side of the median. It flipped completely on its side as we passed and I watched in the rear view mirror as it tumbled and disintegrated into pieces.
It was another surreal moment, sitting comfortably within inches of death. We went about our day; the driver of the truck did not. It seems strange but this is the nature of life. Sooner or later our time will come, and if it isn’t here yet we just keep on. Time starts today for some, ends for others. For everyone else it’s just another day.