Friday, January 02, 2015

wreck photo

It was quite a thing, approaching that blaze of blue along the top road. From a distance it was just one long, flickering necklace of fuss, but close up, when we’d driven through the cordon, it was easier to make out what was what. Fire, police, ambulance. It was a big deal, that night, a serious two car smash. Make ambulances five. We were the fifth.
You can tell from the shine on everything it’d just stopped raining. And that time of night, winter, the sky open and black and full of stars. I don’t remember feeling colder.
Most of the work had already been done. See those blue lights, way off there in the distance? That was the last of the kids from the first car getting away.
That’s our patient, the one with his arms outstretched. He’s got a phone in his right hand. He’d just finished ringing his family. When he saw us coming towards him he put out both his arms like that, like he was at a church meeting or something and felt the Spirit. I don’t doubt he felt touched by God out there on that freezing black road. I mean, he wasn’t even wearing a seatbelt. How’s that possible? Two fatals in the other car. You can just see it, there, that mess of metal through the railings. Some of that’s where the fire truck cut the car up to get to them, but still, you can see what a hit it took.
And here’s our guy, standing in the middle of it all with his arms outstretched, not a mark on him.
He walked onto the ambulance. We lay him down and bundled him up, of course. But he really did seem fine. Started shivering like crazy once he was on the trolley, rattling away beneath the blankets. And all the time he was shivering he was still smiling, broad and wide, like he wanted to show whoever it was who’d spared his life that he appreciated the miracle of it, that he was happy, madly happy to be alive.
‘They spun out coming the other way’ he said, or something like. ‘I didn’t have a chance. I prayed to God – not out loud, but deep down in my heart. I closed my eyes and prepared myself to be dead. But when I opened them again I was not dead. And I will see my family again. I will see my children and my father again. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.’
And frankly? Looking at all that mess? Neither could we.


Anonymous said...

Hope you told him to buy a lotto ticket.. unless he used up his lifetime supply of luck in those few seconds.

Spence Kennedy said...

I should definitely have got some numbers off him... :)

tpals said...

Imagine the natural high he was riding then. Just as well he didn't have to drive away.

Spence Kennedy said...

Absolutely, Tpals. A combination of euphoria and horror, I'd think. You'd be overwhelmed by the rush of it all - but he seemed to be coping incredibly well, considering!

jacksofbuxton said...

It's not something I'd ever want to experience,but knowing that you're about to cross the night-ferry only to find that it isn't ready for you must be a strange thing.

Spence Kennedy said...

It must be such a profound shock - seeing something coming at you, something that may well kill you, and not being able to do a thing about it but hold on and hope for the best. :/

petrolhead said...

There was a horrific fatal just down the road from me on New Year's Day. What an awful way to go - one minute you're walking home from a party, the next...
What made it worse was that it was a hit and run. They were tracked down and arrested, and I hope the courts throw the book at them.

Spence Kennedy said...

Dreadful. How anyone could drive away without stopping to help is beyond belief. You'd hope the courts would be particularly tough when it came to sentencing. :/

An English Magistrate said...

Failing to stop after an accident (= hit and run) is one of the aggravating factors taken into consideration when sentencing - see - and should be expected to increase the sentence.

A case such as this would be likely to be heard in the Crown Court (because the maximum sentence in the Magistrates' Courts is six months in custody).

I've only ever dealt with one case where death was caused by driving (careless driving, to be precise), and this was before these guidelines came into effect. The only penalty we could impose was a fine and disqualification ... in front of the parents of the two young people who had been killed. Definitely one of the most difficult sentencing decisions I've ever made.

And yes, I agree - even forgetting the fact that it's illegal, I cannot understand how anyone could drive away without stopping to help. I couldn't.

Spence Kennedy said...

It's a relief to hear that failing to stop is definitely taken into account on sentencing, so thanks for that, EM. The case you dealt with before the guidelines came into effect sounded absolutely grim. I hope you found a way to make it clear when passing the sentence that you were frustrated by the law as it stood at that time. A fine / disqual. would've been bitterly hard for the parents to hear.

The only thing I can think about people who fail to stop - other than that they're complete monsters - is that they're either under the influence and not behaving normally, or the incident happens quickly, they panic, they drive away, they find a way to rationalise their response in the aftermath (it was an animal / it was a glancing blow / they're okay etc).

Thanks for the comment, EM.

Blair Ivey said...

One more to add to your collection.
19, just started my first business; local night club owner gives me two passes. I get dead drunk. Driving home, hit a 30 MPH curve at 90. Car departs, inverts. I'm ejected from the car. Car is trashed. Cop pulls up, looks at me, at the car. Says 'I can't believe you're alive. I'm not going to charge you.'

There were, of course, significant injuries.

Spence Kennedy said...

Sounds like you were amazingly lucky, Blair.

I remember turning up to an RTC - there was a massive scorch mark down the centre of the road, debris scattered around, wheels &c, a streetlamp bent over, and the remains of the car just a balled lump. It looked more like a meteor strike than a road crash. But when we went up to what remained of the front seat, there was nothing there.
A bystander came over.
'If you're looking for the driver, he ran off that way...'

BTW - 1st business at 19! That's impressive. What was it?