So often when we turn on the news, the broadcast reports on a tragic traffic accident where a cyclist or pedestrian has been hit or dragged by a vehicle and killed. It seems like there is just too much traffic for many of our streets, and pedestrians and cyclists need to take greater precautions than ever before. Sometimes these tragedies are unavoidable, but other times you get the sense that things could have ended on a positive note.
Recently I was driving with Jonathan and Adam in the car during a heavy rain and windstorm. We were in the city – in an area where four lanes in each direction converge to three within one block, so the streets are always filled with cars.
Visibility was poor and we were half way back home when I glanced to my left and saw an elderly man with a cane suddenly blown over by the strong wind and falling off the median strip and rolling toward the far left lane – we were 3 lanes over – far right. I remember thinking to myself — that man is going to get hit! It was one of those moments when you have a split second to make a decision — either keep on driving or stop.
So without thinking, I braked, stopped the car, threw the driver’s side door open and dashed across three lanes of moving traffic. (The oncoming cars immediately started to brake — thank goodness!!) Adam was already ahead of me. He later told me he thought he might get killed — racing in front of moving cars. Two other people saw what was going on and ran across traffic as well.
Suddenly all traffic came to a stop across all lanes as we rushed to get this fellow out of the street. Everyone realized how dangerous the situation was. The elderly man was very shaken. He was on his back – body extending into the street and he could not stand up easily. His cane was in the street, his mail was scattered and he was so upset he could barely speak (can you blame him – lying on his back and starting to roll into the high speed lane?) I was fearful the traffic would resume moving and a tall truck would hit him, so we needed to move fast. And we did.
Adam and another stranger pulled him upright and helped him regain his footing. I grabbed the cane and scattered mail and asked which direction he wanted us to take him but he was pretty confused.
Back at our car, Jonathan had not seen what had happened – only realized we were jumping out of the car (I did this once before to save a turtle…) and had left the driver’s door wide open! He ran around to the driver’s seat, closed the door and pulled the car forward so others could pass. Fortunately by this time the elderly man was being escorted to safety and we could return to our car.
I told Adam that I believe our purpose that day to keep the elderly man from getting killed. Adam and I both could have been mowed down by traffic, but by some miracle all vehicles came to a screeching halt, so it ended well. It was a lucky day for all of us. I think it was a lucky day that was meant to be.