I had pulled to the pump, the pump was starting, put the spout in the tank, squeezed the handle, and heard the screech of tires.
The convenience store I stopped at is on the corner of two highways. One runs straight through the intersection, and the other ends at the intersection. A light controls traffic, but traffic on the opposite side of the intersection does not stop for the light. I was on the opposite side of the pump, with my back to the traffic.
The turning lane for those wanting to travel on the intersecting highway is long, since the evening traffic is always heavy. Sometimes, when there is a refinery expansion, traffic backs into the inside travel lane of the two lanes that don't stop for the light.
The speed limit at this intersection is 55 mph, and increase to 65 mph right past the intersection. For those that spent a long time in traffic, this is the opportunity to make up for lost time, but for those not paying attention, there can be consequences.
I've seen a few wrecks at this intersection. Usually, they occur when someone tries to pull from the turning lane, or is following too closely and runs into the stopped traffic. Most are fender benders, but with the speed limit, some lead to cars that won't be fixed, and terrible injuries.
A friend's mother and father were killed at a cross street that is right beyond the start of the turning lane. The traffic was heavy, backed into the inside lane, and a good Samaritan let them in. They pulled into the outside lane, a fast moving car couldn't stop, and the car slammed into the side of their car. They were just visiting, the visit was over, and they were on their way back to Illinois.
I was turning to see what caused the screeching tires, when I heard the thump. For those that never saw, or were, in a car wreck, the sound is unmistakable. The larger the thump, the worst is the wreck. This sounded like someone took off a mirror, or sideswiped a vehicle.
As I finished my turn, I saw a small section of burgundy trim flying in the air, and a small, gray pickup squealing to a stop on the far shoulder. Since the pickup stopped in the turning lane was the same color of the trim I saw flying, I assumed the gray truck hit the burgundy truck, but something didn't seem right.
All these events, and thoughts, happened in less than five seconds. Thinking it was just another fender bender, I turned back to verify the pump was pumping, before turning back around. I would now spend more time observing the scene.
I was trying to surmise the accident. I couldn't determine how the gray truck hit the burgundy truck, since it was obvious the driver was not trying to pull into the other lane. I was thinking: "Maybe the driver of the gray truck was distracted, and veered from their lane." Before I could complete my thoughts, I saw a young boy running from a house across the highway. He was hollering, ran to the edge of the highway, and was holding his hands next to his head.
My initial thought was the boy knew somebody involved in the wreck, but when I realized a small group had gathered around what appeared to be a bumper on the road, my thoughts went into another direction. People don't gather around bumpers, and I started wondering if the accident happened because someone was avoiding a dog, which was now laying in the road.
I had to spend a few more seconds examining the scene, before it all became clear. It wasn't a bumper, and it wasn't a dog... it was a child, who was laying without moving. One woman was crouched next to the child, and she appeared to be saying something. A young woman was approaching from the house across the street. She was crying, shaking her head, and obviously in shock.
The pump stopped, I put the spout up, and went into the store for my receipt. The clerk, who was just stepping back inside, said: "He was just in here." As she printed my receipt, she told me he was a young man, and just bought some Skittles.
I was still trying to digest what I just observed. I knew exactly what happened, couldn't fathom how anyone would let someone so young try to cross dangerous traffic, and began wondering about the driver that hit the child. They must be devastated, wondering what they could have done differently, and would not be able to logically determine they did nothing wrong. There will always be the nagging thoughts: "If I had been just a few seconds later, I would have missed them." "Maybe I was driving just a little too fast." "Was I distracted, and not paying attention?" The thoughts will haunt them forever.
The emergency vehicles were arriving in droves, as I started my truck. Pulling from the convenience store, I could see the opposite side of traffic was stopped. As I traveled further, the long line of stopped traffic indicated some would be late arriving home.
I looked at the local news after I reached home. The child was identified as a 10 year old boy, and he was flown to Houston, which is around 100 miles away. Since we have an exception trauma center locally, I could only assume the injuries required the specialists of the children's hospital in Houston. A later report stated he was responsive, but couldn't move.
The only thing new on the news this morning is the name of the boy. Unless he dies, there will probably never be anything more about his condition. Hopefully he survives, but judging by the sound of the impact, if he does, he'll spend a long time recuperating, and may not ever be the same.
The entire evening was bizarre after seeing the accident. While I usually can just forget about such things, this one just hangs on. While my thoughts are still on what happened, I can only imagine the thoughts of the driver that hit the young boy. The news had a picture of him sitting in his pickup, with the door open, holding his head in one hand, and holding on to the door of his truck with the other. You can tell he's devastated, and know he'll never be the same.
In Case You've Wondered
My blog is where my wandering thoughts are interspersed with stuff I made up. So, if while reading you find yourself confused about the context, don't feel alone. I get confused, too.
If you're here for the stories, I started another blog: scratchingforchange.blogspot.com
One other thing: sometimes I write words you refuse to use in front of children, or polite company, unless you have a flat tire, or hit your thumb with a hammer.
I don't use them to offend; I use them to embellish.