Friday, October 21, 2011

roadside memorials, more

Unlike Bob Fuller's Roadside Memorials, this one is pretty poignant. In honor of all those people whom can't speak for themselves any more (because they are dead), and with a tip of the tinfoil beanie to Traffic Safety Month at the Laboratory, and finally, wishing more people would make the connection between these memorials and their driving behavior, here goes...

The memorial below has special significance for me. About five or six years ago, Meena and I were returning from shopping in Santa Fe on a Saturday. We followed NM 502 where it splits from NM4 and headed up towards the hairpin turn below the airport. I saw a car that seemed to be getting bigger really fast. Realized it was headed right towards me going the wrong way. I flashed my lights and laid on the horn to no avail, so I bailed out onto the shoulder and braked to a stop. A very old lady was behind the wheel of the wrong way car. She was now trapped on a divided, high speed highway.

I called 911 to report a wrong way driver and then ominously, told the 911 operator "you better get some gear down hear real fast. I don't see any more traffic coming up behind me and there should be a lot of it". I then put the car in reverse and hauled ass in reverse about a quarter mile around the sweeping curve below the Y. There I found the wrong way car, crushed into a Harley. Two riders were bleeding out on the road. A following motorist, who saw it all, said it was horrific, with boots and helmets literally ripped off the riders by the impact. A woman who identified herself as a nurse said they were gone.

With yet more cars alternately braking hard or whizzing by us on a high speed curve, about half a dozen of us formed an impromptu emergency traffic control team by stopping cars and telling them to stop upstream of the curve in an en echelon pattern with their flashers on. We then slowed all the high speed traffic coming around the curve and directed it into the one open lane, so no one else would plow into the mess. Eventually the EMTs and police got there. All they could do was cover the bodies. An EMT tried CPR on one motorcyclist, but all that happened was geysers of blood came out of the person's mouth and nose.

Crashes are not pretty and those memorials show the names of real people whose lives were abruptly snuffed out. Usually in a completely unnecessary manner. Be careful out there, and make sure anyone who you can influence thinks about that too.

NOTE ADDED SATURDAY. Looks like we almost got another memorial. Young girl hit in the golf course crossing yesterday afternoon. Don't we have enough descansos already?

I was present for this crash, driving onto the shoulder
 to avoid the wrong-way car that went on to hit the motorcycle head-on. 
This is on 502 just below the Y.
Double fatal, both on the motorcycle. 
Watching two people die is not fun.