A little over a week ago I wrote a post about getting beat up everywhere you turn. Today’s death of Paul Walker in a one car auto accident brought again to mind the fragility of life and how quickly it can be snuffed out
One of my safe havens is my alone time in the car.
There I am safe from all the noise of the world…… until..a couple of weeks ago
I had left home and wasn’t 2 miles from my house. It was one of those moments we have all had. We are driving along when someone shoots past us hot-dogging the accelerator, their exhaust bellowing as they move past you at a rate of speed that not only exceeds the speed limit but also the limits of common sense and safety.
It frustrates, annoys and enrages you….and you say to yourself or out loud “That idiot is going to get himself killed”
And you believe that…..maybe even hope that they have a close call so they learn a lesson
But you never desire that they actually lose their life
And you never expect it to happen….
Not while you are watching.
There I was, in my car, as the words were dropping off my tongue, watching the little two door car speed down the road leaving us further and further behind and then…
In an instant the back end of the car shifted left then right then left again. Obviously out of control the driver most likely tried to correct but only manage to make things far worse for in the next instant the car was rocking side to side on two wheels. Before I knew it the back end off the car lifted itself into the air, dragging the nose of the vehicle diagonally across the road from the oncoming lane back into the proper lane and towards the shoulder of the pavement. The suddenly the rear end dropped back to earth as if it had been slammed down my an invisible hand and the car shot off the shoulder and into the ditch on the side of the road. As I watched this final movement I held my breath and gave a gasp of relief when the car avoided hitting three small trees head on managing to only make a glancing blow on the passenger’s side of the vehicle.
My heart raced
I couldn’t breathe
I had no phone (left it at home that morning)
I stopped and got out of my car. The truck in front of me pulled over as well the other car behind me kept driving. When the guy in the truck saw me they too left the scene and so it was just me alone. I wish I could say my first reaction was to run and help or even to pray……. No my reaction was far more rooted in the flesh
And then I ran….
As I ran to the car another vehicle was stopping I motioned to the gentleman as to indicate the need for him to call 911. He was already making the call. I walked to the door and looked in…..and shuddered
The driver wasn’t in his seat
He was on the other side of the car…
I backed up, took a breath and looked in the back seat through the rear hatch window, at this point praying there wasn’t a child inside.
I went blank…. I couldn’t open the door…. I didn’t want to see
The gentleman on the phone ran up and opened the door and went in he tried to make contact but couldn’t get a response. We knew he wasn’t moving and that we could not under any circumstance move him. We couldn’t even tell if he was breathing. It was very cold that morning and the driver was wearing several layers including a hood that was covering his face.
I haven’t decided if I am thankful for that or not….
The paramedics were there very quickly. Their station was right around the corner. They hooked up monitors, we helped break back brush, and in the matter of just a few minutes it was over…..
The guy with the phone said he had overheard those two words no one wants to here in a situation like this…
He was gone. Nothing to do but call in the coroner…..
I never did see his face and only learned his name and age from the obituary in the local news. An African American man who was the same age as myself who was probably just late for work and in a hurry.
That image will haunt me. Not because of the trauma or the death but because of how quickly it passed.
10 seconds? 20?
We are told in the book of James that life is nothing but a vapor. Again we see this today another one car accident and two people dead in an instant. But of course this one we see on the news and we are grieved because this was a celebrity and I am sure much will be made of what and how this happened because of Paul Walker’s popularity. Which I will be glad to hear about because it will remind everyone how tomorrow is promised to no one. And that living recklessly even for a brief moment of indulgence can result in tragedy.
For me, though, Paul Walker’s death, as special as he was, will never impact me the way the death of a man whose name I never knew and whose face I never saw impacted me.
I learned that day that all it takes is……
A one car crash and nothing is ever the same again