Monday, October 10, 2011

Padding: Never Leave Home Without It

Unfortunately, the weekend wasn't all fun and games for everyone, at least that's not how it ended up.

Late Sunday afternoon, Jacob and I sat in our "bonus room," waiting for an afternoon nap that would never happen while he played a game on the X-box and I read or played Mahjong. Living in town, we're used to hearing loud cars, trucks, and motorcycles drive by so that's what we figured it was - the usual douchebag revving up his motorcycle for no other reason than to compensate for some shortcoming elsewhere. But then we heard a loud crack and a thud, and we're pretty sure the house shook; the computer monitors if nothing else. We looked at each other wide-eyed, Jacob saying, "Wow, that sounded pretty solid." We later admitted that both of us had felt a knot in our stomach and an inkling that we should check things out, but I discovered that if we had, we might not have been able to handle it anyway.

A few minutes later, Jacob and I hear sirens so concluded the thud an accident of some sort. Jacob went out the front door, only to return and say, "We'll have a better shot from the backyard since I saw the cop go around the corner." We rounded the corner of our backyard and was faced with a scene of bustling policemen, some wielding cameras, paramedics, and gawking neighbors (including us) right in front of our side fence; this was all taking place in my neighbor's yard, the one we share the duplex with. The woman who got her cat eaten by Louis was standing by and she told us a man had crashed through her fence while on his ATV and was unconscious.

From what we could figure - and from the tracks on a couple of neighbors' lawns - he was driving on our road heading west. The road is curvy but not outlandishly so, and you can see a good deal around the corner. The only thing that makes it dangerous are the people who refuse to slow down for it. Our duplex sits on the corner, our house being on the inside. From the time ATV Man left the road, he hopped the curb on to the lawn, cut across the street, drove across my neighbor's lawn, and crashed into the fence that separates her from our backyard (now cat-less) neighbor. Had he crashed a few more feet to the left, he would have taken out the fence that separates us from the other side of the duplex, which might have worked out better for him in the end. As it happened, the fence he ran through was only about a foot in front of the house, and it was their AC unit that stopped him. Since my description of events can be a tad confusing and turgid, below is my attempt at a map.

  Legend: H = house; Us = our house; F = fence; and X marks the spot of where he went through, hitting the house behind the fence.

 I took this picture from our back/"bonus room" window. On the far right, you can sort-of make out policemen putting up caution tape. I didn't want to be the crazy weirdo neighbor, still in their pj's at 4pm, who takes pictures with their cell phone then posts them on their blog.

Our neighbor, a delivery nurse before retirement, was the first to reach him. She said he was crumpled up against the house, legs entwined, unconscious and lungs filling with blood. She told him what happened, that help was on it's way, but that there was nothing she could do for him besides say the Lord's prayer, so that's what she did. I spoke to her last night, as we watched the police continue to block off the entire street, and she told me he was on life support and they were waiting for the family to be able to take him off. The update this morning was that he was still in critical condition, and that speed and a medical condition are factors. The local news story can be found here:

The obvious question: was he wearing protective gear? The obvious answer: He should have been. It wasn't at all based on insensitivity, but whenever Jacob and I thought about it we couldn't help but laugh. As of 6:15 this morning, he was still alive. I hope he continues to live because it's just way too good a story not to be able to tell yourself.