Dear Mr. C –
I wanted to take a moment and touch base with you to say – again – how glad I am you didn’t have a crash last night. Yes, I know, you were quite annoyed when I stopped you. It was evident from your heavy sighing, your angry glare, and the way you subtly denigrated me to your two young boys.
It was also evident from the fact that, for the first part of our little dance, you chose not to stop. While I can’t prove it, I do believe you sped up from the 83 miles an hour at which I clocked you to something closer to 90 miles an hour. Always a smart choice for night driving on a roadway dotted with ice. And while you said you never saw my flashing red and blues, the way you passed the car in front of you and then stayed close to that car was quite intriguing. Hoping I would lose your taillights in their lights, perhaps?
But, eventually, you did stop, and you were righteous in your belief that the roads weren’t that bad; that the ice you’d just driven over, along the guard rail bridge on the north edge of one of our small towns, was inconsequential.
Let me tell you a little story.
Less than two hours after you went blasting over that ice and got pissy with me for stopping you, another woman went over that same exact ice. She was headed south, exactly as you had been, and was less than a mile north of where I stopped you.
But this time, the ice wasn’t negligible. This time, in a car larger and heavier than yours, the ice caught her. She fish-tailed three or four times, then spun 180 degrees.
Directly into the path of another car.
This woman’s car hit the second car head-on. With such force that the woman’s hood was ripped away and tossed nearly 100 yards, which I didn’t realize until my entire team began to gather up the hundreds of pieces of broken car scattered along the highway and throughout the nearby yards.
She was transported to the local hospital.
The other driver, a man, wasn’t quite so lucky.
His car basically exploded on impact. Instead of gouts of fire lighting the sky, there was metal and plastic, glass, airbags, and too much blood. His car careened off the roadway and into a field. For a few minutes, I was unsure if I was handling another fatality (which would have been my second in roughly a week…that one having been caused by speed…you know, sort of like what you were doing) or just a massive personal injury accident.
In fact, I was unable to tell with any certainty until the firemen managed to cut the top off the man’s car. Have you ever seen a car top peeled back to reveal the bloody mess inside?
And yet, that wasn’t enough. To get the man out, crews had to cut the passenger door off.
He was so badly injured – though still alive – that we didn’t even bother transporting him to the hospital. We air-lifted him directly to a larger hospital in Peoria. We air-lifted him, in fact, directly from the scene. Ever seen a life-flight helicopter land at a grain elevator? Or would you have been driving too fast along that stretch of the highway to have seen it?
And let me ask you this: have you ever stood toe to toe with a wife and had to tell her that, to the best of your knowledge, her husband wasn’t dead, just quite badly fucked up? No, I’m sure you haven’t because you have been too focused on getting to your basketball games.
This woman, who had been looking forward to having her husband home for the night, was actually on the phone with him when the accident happened. She heard him talking, then screaming, then the nightmare of metal against metal.
But you’re right, the roads weren’t too bad, as least that’s what you told me in front of your two sons; as though saying that somehow magically ameliorated the fact that you were driving nearly 30 miles over the limit at night (a limit, let’s remember, designed for decent weather and clear roads…neither of which we had when I stopped you).
Oh, I almost forgot. You were going a minimum of 83 miles an hour. The eyewitness I had to the crash said the driver who lost control was going less than 40, the second driver about 50.
Hmmm…I wonder what 83 miles an hour, in a skid and then a multiple rollover, would do to young bodies such as your sons’. I wonder if there would even be anything left of them to even really have a funeral.
It is my job to save you, Mr. C -, even if that means saving you from yourself. So if I inconvenienced you by holding you up on your way to a fucking basketball game, good. If I pissed you off by writing you a ticket that’ll cost you $95, good. And if I managed to stumble on to saving you and your sons’ lives, then that’s good, too.
Deputy Trey R. Barker