September 28, 2008

A Death Most Abrupt

I was stunned again today by the abruptness of death. At about 10:00 this morning I received a page stating there had been an accident involving a motorcycle and that the air ambulance was en route from Jacksonville. Before I could get to the scene the air ambulance was cancelled which meant the patient perished. The ground ambulance carried him to the local hospital where the formal process of pronouncing him was done.

On a flat straight stretch of road in clear weather a woman driving a minivan pulled out in front of a man riding a motorcycle. The man on the motorcycle tried his best to stop (as evident by the skid marks) but to no avail. No one in the van was physically injured (the passenger side of the van was smashed and the windshield broken) but the driver was inconsolable. She was on her way from her home in a subdivision to a yard sale in the south side of the same subdivision. Her failure to yield will forever haunt her. She and this stranger/victim and his family are now inextricably tied together. As I stood there and tried to gather information and take photographs the husband of the van driver was trying to make sense of it all and find out what possible outcomes faced his wife. Some of the outcomes would not be good but there wasn't much I could tell him until the investigation was complete.

I don’t know the story of the man riding the motorcycle other than he was only 34-years-old. Helmets are mandatory in Georgia and it looked like his took a pretty good hit.

This particular stretch of road holds a number of bad memories including several other automobile related deaths. In one case the victim was my nineteen year old neighbor. He had no ID but I knew who he was. I went to tell his sister at work at Wal-Mart. As I was telling her she called his cell phone repeatedly and left messages, messages he would never receive. I was certain death had arrived but she needed time to take it all in. It was one of the most emotional moments in my life and I hope to never again have to make a death notification. This road also reminds me of the death of an 11-year-old girl on an ATV, three suicides from self-inflicted gunshot wounds to the head (one of which we listened to live on the radio, another was the conclusion of a chase as the driver killed himself with at least 15 cops looking on) and two young brothers who died in a house fire.

I guess the moral is that we should remain vigilant and pray as the angel of death can manifest himself anytime anywhere. Don’t carry grudges or hatred in your heart. Be the first to say you’re sorry, the first to offer the olive branch. Tell those you love how much they mean to you. Don’t assume they know. And lookout for motorcycles, they’re everywhere.


s-p said...

The hardest thing I ever did was tell my best friend's nine year old son his dad had committed suicide the night he was supposed to have picked him up for a weekend visit.
One should live long enough to realize we are not immortal and invincible. Its a pity we cannot live in a constant state of that knowledge. How would our lives change?

Anonymous said...

Again, my heart goes out to you and those working the scene and the families involved.

Once again your words have touched my heart and caused me to heed your instruction...I told my wife how much I love her.

Praise be to God for His deliverance.

Changed Like Saul

Philippa said...

Thank you for your service to the community. My heart and prayers go out to you and the others who serve each of our communities as police, fire etc.

Helmets are optional in my state, a law which I think is stupid.

Yes, motorcycles are everywhere. Vigiliance is a must, not only in driving but moment by moment. Our lamps must always have oil.

Lord have mercy upon the soul of the recently departed.

DebD said...

I echo Trudy's words... thank you for your service.

I read this and your newest blog entry backwards (reading the other one first) and I can't help but think the two go together: The poor and those who mourn or those who are suffering.