Last Saturday (March 3) my almost 20-year-old son got into an accident on Old Kings Road in Palm Coast, a few miles north of State Road 100. He was riding his little Yamaha 49 cc scooter on to go see a friend, and hit a wild boar that was laying in the middle of the road. It was about 8 p.m. This particular road happens to be a few miles of dark and winding terrain, with woods on both sides. The kiddo was thrown going roughly 40 mph and landed in the middle of the road. Before anyone freaks out, he is ok, or I wouldn’t be writing this.
But I am writing about it because something in this experience made me lose what faith I had in the inherent goodness of man.
So back to a kid, who got very obviously thrown off his motorbike, laying in the middle of this two lane road, the scooter a few meters away from him and still running. There was an SUV a few hundred or so yards behind my son. Whoever was driving it didn’t so much as slow down or swerve, coming within inches from hitting my kid, who was as yet unable to move. As my son was crawling to the side of the road, doing his best to get away from lights of other cars behind him, two more cars zoomed past him without giving any of this a second thought.
For the next 20 or so minutes, he crouched in a painful ball on the side of the road, trying to flag down a car with the one hand that wasn’t completely scraped and bloody, so that someone could make a call and get help. It took that long until finally somebody stopped.
I know it’s dark there, and probably scary. I guess I can even almost understand the apprehension that we may feel if we are out driving, especially if we are by ourselves, about pulling over in cases like these. But I can’t for the life of me fathom not slowing down and at the very least calling 911. That doesn’t even require getting out of the car.
So this weekend my son lay helpless on the side of the road. My son, who may have seemed like some punk to some of you, who blew past him without so much as slowing down; just some teenage kid who doesn’t merit your consideration. Maybe pulling over would have made you late for that dinner date or getting home to your family. Maybe you were racing to an emergency that just couldn’t wait… Maybe. But some of you almost killed my son, and some of you just didn’t care enough to dial a phone number. You are my neighbors. Some of you have kids or grandkids or nephews or nieces. Some of you have probably been in an accident before, and felt scared, and hoped that someone would pull over.
The kid you left there is enrolled in music production at DBS. He plays jazz piano at local gigs. He writes music and poetry. He dreams. He still hugs his parents. His 11 year old brother thinks the world of him. He is also a kid who would stop for anyone in trouble. He’d have stopped for you…
He learned his lessons: not riding at night on a dark road being one of them, and that he must wear gloves when riding, even if it’s really warm out. He also learned a few things I wish he didn’t have to. The scars on his hands and knees will heal in due time. He’ll ride again. He’ll play jazz. He’s happy he is alive and knows how lucky he is. But above all, he is heartbroken at the callousness of people who went on their way, as if he wasn’t there… There is no Band-Aid or pill to heal those.
I hope that the people who read this, should they ever find themselves driving by an accident of any kind, consider this. I hope that we still have it in us to do the right thing. It could be someone you know and love in that ditch some day, but when not, it is always somebody who is loved and someone who will be missed.
Thank you so very much to Richard Barnes who not only stopped but stayed with my son until the paramedics got there, and talked him through his fears. Thank you to the other two people who pulled over and whose names, sadly, I don’t know, and thank you to the EMTs who were called to the scene for being so very human to my son and for keeping his spirits up.