Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The image is horrifying so we should never forget

This is the picture. It's the one I see in my mind when I really don’t want to, the one that will always be there and never go away.

It’s the car the driver drove, while talking on her cell phone, that hit my son, who was pedaling his bicycle home from work, that amputated his leg and killed him.

His name is Devin.

I’m not really sure how long he lived after he was hit, as the driver kept driving with him on the car for 800 feet and didn’t stop for three-quarters of a mile, and didn’t call 911 until … when? 

According to her police statement, she was on the phone. Her phone records show there were three calls to or from her boyfriend at 12:34 a.m., 12:35 a.m. and 12:45 a.m. She told police the crash happened shortly after the first phone call. She said she heard someone say, “Hello,” then she closed her eyes for a long blink and heard a bang.

If the crash happened shortly after the first phone call, that means it happened after 12:34 a.m. but before 12:35 a.m. The last phone call at 12:45 a.m. lasted one minute and nine seconds, and then she made the 911 call.

Did Devin lay dying in the road for 11 minutes before she finished the third call and then called 911?

Why do I think about this stuff?

This is the car that hit my son and killed him. I don’t have to point out the passenger side is crushed in, do I?

Dear God, why do I recreate this moment in my mind?

He’s pedaling down the road of Highway H after leaving work at the Renaissance Faire. He was in a well-lit area, with light from two factories pouring onto the road. The accident reconstruction said the driver should have had 4.7 seconds to see him, react and avoid the collision. But she’s on the phone, dear God, and she’s closing her eyes! I want to be there. I want to scream at her: “Open your eyes and drive! Hang up and drive! Look at the road in front of you!”

Devin is pedaling, oblivious to his pending death, unaware he only has seconds or minutes to live. No idea his life ends at age 21.

Why does she not see him?!?!? Why does she not stop???? 

4.7 seconds.

She hears someone say hello.

She closes her eyes.

One second ... two seconds ...

He’s pedaling.

Three seconds ...

The headlights blind him. 

Four seconds ...

There is nowhere to go.

She hits him. Dear God, she hits him. 

Terror explodes in his brain as the fender makes contact with the bike and it begins to crumple. His leg is torn from his body. Does he feel it?

He hits the hood. He’s thinking, “What the hell … ”

She doesn’t stop. She keeps driving. Oh God, the blood. He’s slammed into the windshield. His back is broken. His arm is mangled. His neck is snapped. Look at the dent in the roof! She keeps driving. He finally falls off after 800 feet. She keeps driving! She doesn't hit the brakes. She doesn’t stop until she comes to the intersection of Highway H and 165 three-quarters of a mile away.

And she finally calls 911 at the same exact time two of Devin’s friends drive up and see his body. They know it is their friend, and a moment later another driver sees Devin's shoe, and the bike, and this driver knows something is wrong, something is terribly wrong, and this driver slows down and she calls 911, too.

And the driver, now that she has stopped, she calls 911 at the same time.

Within minutes there are paramedics and cops and they talk to the driver. The paramedic picks up Devin’s back pack, lying in a ditch, parallel to her car. If she hit him three-quarters of a mile away, how in the hell did the back pack end up there?

So many questions, so many fucking questions.

The paramedic finally realizes there is a human being lying in the road. His name is Devin.

And now he’s dead.

Look at the car. 

Now tell me you can drive safely while talking on a cell phone.

How many more people have to die? How many more people have to cry? How many more people are left to plaintively ask, “Why? Why? Why?”

Please, in honor of my son, share this story on your Facebook page. E-mail it to your friends. Post it on your refrigerator. Read it to your kids before you give them the car keys. And when you are in your car and your phone rings, just leave it alone.

In honor of my son, save a life. Hang up and drive.

His name was Devin.