Sunday, December 2, 2012

Affected by Tragedy

I've written a few posts about some of the crazy stuff we did when I was younger. This post is a little different.

There are occasionally things that happen in your life that make you stop and think about what you're doing. For some, it may be an embarrassing event. For others, it may be a family tragedy like a divorce or death. Even moving to a new town can be a major event for kids. Health issues, injuries, bad grades—all kinds of things can suddenly affect you in ways you couldn't have predicted.

I was out gallivanting with my friends one night and we headed home around midnight. Because of what later happened, many details from that night are a little fuzzy. I don't recall what we were doing, but I'm sure it involved driving around looking for classmates, goofing off, laughing, cheeseburgers, the usual. None of us were into drugs or alcohol—we seemed to entertain ourselves quite well without needing chemical assistance.

I don't even remember if I was driving that night or if we were in someone else's car. I only remember that we had several people in the car that all lived within a couple blocks of each other. As we neared the neighborhood, we saw police and emergency vehicles all over and the main road was blocked. We saw a mangled car in the middle of the street and activity all around. A crowd of spectators had gathered and most looked pretty somber. An officer directed us through a side road and as we passed, I heard something about a fatality.

It kind of humbled us as we drove the last little way to our houses. We didn't know what was going on, but it didn't look good. I don't remember the exact events after I arrived home, but I do remember my parents were very glad to see me.

It didn't take long to find out what had happened. A few friends of ours from school had also been out that night. Unfortunately, their group had decided they did need some chemicals. They'd been drinking pretty heavily and were driving home—drunk and at very high speeds. It was estimated they were going at least seventy miles an hour on a road with a thirty-five posted limit. Their car crossed a little bridge and went airborne. It flew straight into a parked flatbed semi trailer. The trailer severed the top of the car right off.

Everyone in the car was seriously injured. One boy whom I'd known for many years was decapitated and died instantly.

It was a pretty grim incident and made me glad my friends and I weren't drinking. But it also made me think about some of the crazy stuff I did. I wasn't a very careful driver before that. After that, I tried to be a little more careful and even started wearing my seat belt. Nobody wore seat belts in those days and my friends often bugged me about it.

The main thing I thought about after that experience, though, was how would my mom have felt if that had been me?

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