Thursday, July 24, 2014

COMMENTARY >> What awaits in the darkness

By Airman 1st Class Scott Poe
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Screeching tires. Loud screams. Exploding glass. Thoughts of confusion filled my mind. I could not begin to take in what had just happened.

Two days after Christmas, my girlfriend, Brittany, and I were coming back from having dinner with my mom when the unimaginable happened. 

We were on an interstate in Missouri, headed to Brittany’s house. We were having a conversation about our Christmas together. It was dark, and the interstate was nearly empty except for a few big rigs behind me that I was passing. I thought to myself, “It’s kind of eerie out here”. 

Out in the middle of the highway, I saw a shadowy figure. I didn’t even have time to hit my brakes until after the impact. 

The sound of crunching metal, cracking plastic and busting glass filled the car. Brittany screamed. As the car slid into the ditch, I was trying to comprehend what I had hit.

After the car finally stopped, I had images running through my head of the figure, but I didn’t want to believe it. 

We got out of the car because the back end was still partially on the interstate. 

Brittany was shaken up, crying and stuttered “did we just hit someone?” 

I replied back, “yes babe.” I told her to get away from the interstate since traffic was still flying by us.

I flagged down a big rig and told him to call 911.

I had just hit a person. 

When I went to find the pedestrian, he was on the side of the interstate. I will never forget that moment. He was wearing a black jacket and camo pants and was face down beside the road. There were clothes scattered all over the road from bags he was carrying. His legs were bent in shapes that were non-human. 

I knew not to move him because of possible spinal injuries, so I tried to take his pulse. I could smell the alcohol on him, but I was focused on helping him. 

His pulse was very faint. I got frantic because I knew there was nothing I could do. I knew this man was not going to make it. I had just hit him going 70 mph. 

It felt like hours before emergency services showed up, but in reality, it was only minutes. 

After an hour or so of being questioned and getting four breathalyzers, the troopers decided I was not at fault and let me go.

That night and many weeks thereafter, I would replay the accident over and over again. I knew there was nothing I could have done different to prevent it, and I also knew I didn’t do anything wrong. That’s what helped me move on. I couldn’t imagine how I would have felt if I would have been speeding, texting or drinking. I would have been devastated.

This was my story and I can’t guarantee that it won’t happen to you, but I hope it never does. 

Be safe when you are on the roads traveling, you never know what is waiting just ahead. 

There are a lot of factors and dangers to be aware of including pedestrians, other motorists, animals, construction areas, weather, etc. 

There are some things while driving you can’t prepare for but that should only make you stay more vigilant and focused on what you and the people around you are doing. 

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