Today was a traumatic day. I was sent out to cover my first accident scene. On the way there, I only knew their had been a wreck. I did not know the extent of the damage. It seems a tractor trailor traveling east on a two-lane highway came around the curve too fast, side-swiping a mack truck in the opposite lane before flipping completely over onto a Ford Expedition. The male driver of the ford expedition was killed instantly. When I arrived at the scene, the young man's lifeless and mangled hand was sticking out from the heap of flattened metal and broken glass. The mack truck had collapsed on the gaurd rail, which completely caved in the driver's side of the windshield.
As I listened to all the EMT workers and police referring to the man as "the body," saying things like, "how do we extract the body from the vehicle," I couldn't help but think that "the body" was someone's son, someone's husband, someone's father, someone's friend. The man was probably driving down the road listening to the radio and contemplating what he was going to eat for lunch, completely clueless that his drive would be his last moments on earth. It's incredibly sad how life can end so abruptly without warning. While I was shocked and saddened by this tragic accident and feeling totally sheepish having to take photos for the paper, I understood that the men and women who deal with the fatalies on the highways have to compartmentalize to efficiently do their jobs: to treat those who surive, to properly handle those who died, and to accurately investigate the truth with a clear mind. It must be numbing to see so much sickness, inury, and death on a regular basis. And it was at this point that I realized the line of work I want to be in includes dealing with these unpleasant realities.
As I stared at the smoldering wreck with one solemn white sheet over the visible parts of the victim, I couldn't help but think of my own cousin who also died suddenly in a car crash only a few months ago. I know firsthand what sudden tragedy can do to a family, how all the elements of grief, despair, denial, resentment, anger, fear, and blame team up to emotionally paralyze the loved ones left on the side of the living. I felt for the people who were a part of that man's life and I pray that God gives them the strength and hope they'll need to get through it.
As much as I respect the news and realize its tremendous value to society when not abused-this is definitely the downside of the job.