I Saw A Man Die Today

I had to run into town yesterday and on the way back I passed a bad car accident. It reminded me of a fatal accident I saw a while back. It really depressed me and I still think of it to this day. I'm aware of it every time I get into the car. You wake up one morning, all is fine and you have no idea that today will be the last day of your life.

I used to write and publish a newsletter, back before the time of blogs, and I wrote about the accident I saw and the feelings I had. Seeing this recent accident, although it didn't appear to be the end of someone, it reminded me of the little piece I wrote and I thought I would share it. Let's be careful out there.

I saw a man die today. I was coming home from a long, frustrating day at work. On the freeway, the traffic was heavy, but moving. Then the cars in front of me stopped. “Damn,” I said to no one but myself, “some stupid idiot ran into the back of someone, I bet. How long is this going to take before I get home?”

Then a police car came roaring by me on the shoulder, and another, and then a motorcycle cop, all with their siren’s blaring. Then came a different sound, the wail of an ambulance. “Uh oh,” I thought, “somebody must be hurt in this one.” I noticed more police had blocked off the freeway behind me, forcing all the cars to take the exit I had just passed, not a good sign. Then radio and TV helicopters were buzzing overhead, so many that I expected them to run into each other. I watched, but somehow they didn’t.

Finally, we started moving again, slowly, in fits and starts. Then it was my turn to proceed past the accident, on the freeway shoulder, the only avenue of escape. They were loading a sheet-covered body into the ambulance as I passed. I saw a shoe lying on the road, a leather glove, a motorcycle helmet, along with other unidentifiable debris. A motorcycle was crushed under the back wheels of an 18-wheeler.

The victim was probably going home from a long, frustrating day at work just like me. Does he have a wife; children waiting for Daddy to come home? For their sake, I hoped not. If he did, I wonder if he told them he loved them and gave them a hug before walking out the door this morning - a morning that on the face of it was just like any of the other hundreds of work days. He wouldn't have had any idea today would be so different. I wasn’t frustrated any more, ashamed of my first thoughts, and very sad. I may be late, but I’ll be home soon. He never will be.