Saturday, November 06, 2021

Emotional Wreck-age

On one sunny Atlanta summer day back in June of 2000, I turned left off of Peachtree-Dunwoody Road onto Peachtree. Peachtree there is flat, straight, and six lanes wide. 

I was the only eastbound vehicle, in the center of the three lanes, when the white Camry attempted a left-hand turn out of a driveway ahead there on the right.

I don't remember much of the rest of that day, except for fragments, and all of those are pretty awful. That was the end of my motorcycle, too. The guys at my bike shop took a look at the wadded wreckage and were amazed I'd lived. It had cartwheeled down the street rather farther than I had.

I talked with one of the responding officers by chance later that year, after I was out of the wheelchair. He told me that the driver, a Jordanian immigrant who'd come over to help his brother's computer business back in the tail end of the dot-com boom, was freaking out on the side of the road. He was sure the cops were going to send him to jail or, worse, take him to Hartsfield and park him on a plane that afternoon. They had to calm him down and explain that we have traffic accidents in America, too.

He did the right thing and admitted to Failure to Yield. I don't bear him any real animus, but I do wish he'd been paying a bit more attention that day. Let y'all who ain't never screwed up cast the first aspersion.

My life would have been a lot different if he'd paid attention. 

Heck, it would have been different if I'd had change for the toll booth on GA-400 and didn't take the Medical Center exit or, for that matter, if I hadn't bought the Ruger Vaquero that day at my part time gun store gig and needed to swing by the apartment to drop it off before heading to my full time job at the Gwinnett airport.


There was a wreck here in the Indy metro earlier this year that drew a lot of press, because a young couple was killed on the way to prom, t-boned in their vehicle (in a stroke of horrific irony) by a classmate. The wreck happened on one of those board-flat, ruler-straight 2-lane county roads that crisscross corn country, with non-existent shoulders, 55mph speed limits, and intersected by smaller country lanes with stop signs and warnings that Cross Traffic Does Not Stop.

The police report came out and determined that the car that hit and killed the couple was likely exceeding the speed limit by as much as 25 mph. The police report also determined that the other contributing cause of the accident was the failure of the car that was struck to yield the right of way.

The kid who t-boned the vehicle isn't being charged with vehicular homicide because there's no such crime in Indiana. There's Reckless Homicide, but she wasn't doing anything that meets the statutory definition. She got a speeding ticket. The other driver should have gotten a ticket for Failure to Yield, but they're dead, like my Camry driver might have been if I'd been piloting a Suburban instead of a Suzuki.

Still, I watch these videos and I can't imagine having to explain to the grieving family and friends that we have accidents here in America, too.