by M. J. Joachim
As I exited the freeway expecting to turn on the main road, a sense of tragic ill-proportion overwhelmed me. Having heard the sirens and rumors of what had happened earlier in the day, I knew what the road block meant on this dark and rainy Sunday night.
The details were too horrific for me to learn more. In the deepness of my heart, I prayed from the moment I heard so many sirens. The alarm had been sounded. This one was bad – really bad, the type you knew ripped families apart, forcing so many people to ask questions, place blame and wonder why.
The first responders got the worst of it. Even as I scoped the scene, determining the best course available from the detour options, I could feel the heaviness of their hearts – heads down, drenched in reflective rain gear, shaking their entire bodies in complete disbelief and utter sadness, some clutching their chests – this one was bad, and the pain of seeing it first-hand was excruciating.
How is it that society dismisses the demand for closer scrutiny of its elderly drivers? Does age somehow come with the right to do whatever you want, even when clearly, you might not have the capabilities of doing so safely anymore? Should everyone else suddenly alert themselves to such demands, when so many lives might be at risk?
If only we could blame it on the storm, or perhaps alcohol. Anything but age! It would be so much easier to continue looking the other way, and avoid confronting this dangerous issue in society.
The sad truth of the matter is that this tragedy, this enormous multi-vehicle crash, was caused by an elderly woman who got confused. How is anyone’s guess. A large cement median, the kind that has trees and native vegetation planted in the center, divided the road. The woman missed it, turned into oncoming traffic, mutilating three cars and everyone in them.