I admit from the outset that I am riled up. Emotional. Angry. Disgusted. Despairing.
Picture SR 500 westbound at St John’s Blvd. I enter the highway and with no one in sight, I move all the way into the left lane. Within seconds, a black car races past me on the right. Immediately after, a second black car races past. I'm already up to 55, so I figure they're probably going at least 75. The cars swerve around a vehicle in front of me, approaching the corner after which SR 500 merges with I-5. A third black car races past me. I wonder if that car is with the other two – it was a little behind – and decide that it is, just trying to catch up. They're racing (hence my use of the word “races” so many times).
I think, “Someone’s going to get hurt.” But I’m entering the corner myself and with an entrance ramp on the right and I-5 on the left, I decide to wait before calling 911. Too late.
Suddenly smoke fills the air, and I brake hard to keep from hitting the vehicle in front of me, which barely avoids hitting the vehicle that has crashed in front of it. The new, black BMW is perpendicular across the left lane, its smashed front end pointing toward I-5. I’m frantically thinking, “Please don’t make me see something bad, please don’t make me see something really bad.” Images of crash scenes I’ve seen at the Victim Impact Panels and High Risk Driver Classes flash through my mind. I’m actually on my way to speak at one.
I hear screams and the driver in front of me is already pulling two young children out of the wrecked car. They are huddling together for comfort and the driver of the BMW extricates himself and rushes over, too. Another vehicle stops and the kids are taken into that car, in the care of two motherly looking women.
The driver is big (as in buff), tall, and bald or nearly so. He looks like a macho man. He blames the other drivers for the crash. He complains that the airbag hurt his arm. He starts picking up pieces of his car and putting them in a pile. Meanwhile, his children are in a car with people they don’t know after experiencing a terrifying wreck.
I whisper with the woman driver of the other car. She didn’t see the actual crash either, because she was still back around the corner when it happened. But she’s hot. She says, “They were racing and I couldn’t believe it when he passed me and I saw the children in the car. I said to my husband, they’re [the racing drivers] going to kill someone.” She confides that she asked the older child what happened, and the child cried, “Dad was racing like he always does.” She looks at me with fury and says, “If he’d hurt one of those children, I’d have punched him right there.”
She has her own child in her car and I have the ashes of my dead child - killed by a different selfish, reckless driver - in my car. We hug.
Two fire engines, an ambulance, and two police cars finally arrive. The father’s arm is put in a brace and he is questioned, then the kids, the other woman driver, and then me. The police officer takes my contact information but is clearly disappointed that I didn’t actually witness the wreck or what led up to it, other than 3 cars were racing each other around a corner.
It appears that no one was hurt. Not physically anyway. “Dad was racing like he always does.” This sounds like emotional pain to me, the words of a child who has been in that car and feared for her life before. And felt helpless to do anything about it.
I wish I could have stuck around to see if that father was arrested, because he deserved to be. He endangered himself, his children, and multiple others due to his selfish, reckless behavior. And other cars could have slammed into us, too, making a relatively minor crash into someone's worst nightmare.
Seeing this utter lack of regard for other people distresses me. That’s putting it mildly. And it just keeps happening.