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Yesterday, while I was driving my dog to day care, I saw a car accident unfold right in front of my eyes. A car veered across the road–as if the driver had lost control or a tire had blown–cutting across two lanes of traffic. By sheer bad luck, the car’s trajectory was aimed straight for a light pole. It hit at 60 miles an hour. The pole fell over; the car flew twenty yards in the air, and rolled, landing on its back.
This all happened about 10 yards in front of me.
There were maybe four or five other cars on the road at the time. We all pulled over to the side of the road to see what could be done. One woman was already on the phone to 911 within seconds; the rest of us walked up to the smoking car.
It was bad. It was really bad. It was lying, wheels spinning in the air–and it was a convertible, with no support in the roof. What little canvas there had been to shield the interior from the elements was crushed; the top of the car doors were level with the ground. We couldn’t see into the vehicle at all.
We called out to see if there was anyone responsive inside.
But of course there was no response. There was no way to get to whoever was inside. Either the car had to be cut apart, or it needed to be rolled back, and we simply didn’t have the training to do anything except wait for the paramedics. And more importantly, the four of us just knew, without saying anything, that seatbelt or no, the force of the impact–and the way the car had rolled–did not bode well for the driver or any passengers.
Nobody said a word. There was nothing to say. Instead, we just stood there, hoping that something impossible had happened–that the unresponsive person inside that metal trap was perhaps just knocked temporarily unconscious. As soon as the police arrived, I left. I had a dog in my car, for one, and for another . . . I didn’t want to be there when they removed the driver from the wreckage. If I left early enough, I could pretend that I hadn’t just seen a man die ten yards in front of me.
But the internet is a harsh mistress.
Rest in peace, Charles.