by John Knapp
My wife leaves every weekday morning about 7:10 A.M., to go over to our daughter’s (Katee’s) house, to watch our 3 year-old grandson, Reed, and two other small children, while both teacher/mama’s go to their teaching jobs at the local elementary school. This morning my wife hadn’t been gone two or three minutes when she called back here to tell me the end of our road was blocked off by sheriff’s deputies with LED lights ablaze. There had been a bad accident right down at the end of our road, one mile away. We always have fog here this time of year, and this morning’s fog was unusually thick. So my wife did a u-turn and went the long way around.
When I left the house two hours later, I thought the accident would have been cleared up, but everything was still blocked. The fog was still very heavy. So I turned around and circled in a square (left, left) in order to get back to C.R. 137, one of the two ways we can get to Lake City. There was a sheriff’s deputy blocking southbound traffic down Hwy. 137 when I came back out to the blacktop. I drove over to where he was parked and asked him what had happened further down the street. He was a young deputy, and seemed a little shaken, not really interested in talking about it. All he said was that there had been a traffic fatality.
So, I drove on to Lake City, a half-hour’s drive away. The fog was heavy all the way, only barely lifting a bit by nearly 10:00 A.M. I went to Lowe’s to get another gallon of exterior fence stain, and while the clerk was shaking the stain, another Lowe’s employee came up, very ashen-faced, and said to her, “Did you hear about ——? He got killed on his way to work this morning!” I could barely hear them talking in their lowered voices. Finally, I asked, “Where did that happen?”
“Down County Road 137. He was on his motorcycle. He works here!” she replied.
“That happened right down at the end of my street!” I exclaimed.
Earlier, when I had pulled up to the blocked intersection, I couldn’t get very close. It was still very foggy, but I thought I could make out a motorcycle laying over on its side, as well as a sheet thrown over something else. I guess that was him, still laying in the middle of the road.
So I took my stain and went to work. I wondered all afternoon who the fellow was, if he was the friendly clerk who had waited on me many times while I was in Lowe’s. He was from down this way, lived around here somewhere. Last time I saw him he told me he’d been working at Lowe’s for 16 years.
When I came home this afternoon, the fog was long gone. As I came down Hwy. 137 and got close to our road, there was a pick-up truck parked at the stop sign. A woman and adolescent girl were out of their vehicle, walking around looking down at the pavement. When I turned onto our street, I stopped and asked them if they were there because of the accident earlier this morning. They were. They weren’t relatives of the deceased, just friends. The woman said, “You can see the skid marks on the road”, she said as she pointed.
“What actually happened?” I asked.
She explained that he was coming along on his way to work (at Lowe’s), and a vehicle turned into his lane. The fog was so thick that neither he nor the driver of the vehicle saw each other until the collision was unavoidable. He died instantly.
She was holding some sort of iPhone, so I asked her if she happened to have a picture of him. She started pecking and scrolling until she found his picture and showed it to me. It wasn’t the fellow I knew, but another man in his mid-fifties, sporting a short-to-medium white beard. “We called him Santa Claus”, she said.
I told her I was sorry for their loss. Then I looked at her young daughter and said, “When you get your driver’s license, you drive nice!”
Now, tonight, we’ve just learned that the vehicle that pulled out in front of the deceased was driven by the 20 year-old son of a tenant who lives in one of our rentals right behind us. He lives there with his mother. He was on his way to work, too. He was unhurt.
So, the point of writing this to you, my friends, is to ask you all to be extra careful on the road, especially when it’s foggy. How many lives got turned upside down this morning, in the fog, in just the blink of an eye!
I am so grateful to God that my wife got to that corner after the accident had happened, rather than before.
I sent this next few sentences to you all a few days ago, but it is worth reading again in light of what happened this foggy morning :
‘God, whose law it is that he who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despite, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.’ —-Aeschylus
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