Last Sunday, M went out for a neighborhood run. On the way out, he said hi to one of our next block neighbors who was doing some work on his RV. On he way back, he found an ambulance at the same neighbor’s home. The RV had not been chocked correctly and it had rolled forward and crushed the man beneath it. M says the man was just being loaded into the ambulance as he ran up and from what he learned from the neighbor who found him, the man had a broken neck and had been dragged a few feet as well. The RV sat where it ended, over the sidewalk and with a couple of feet of it’s length in the street.
Flash forward to yesterday’s run … M spoke to the next door neighbor inquiring about the injured man, and his broken neck has rendered him completely helpless and he is choosing to be taken off the machines allowing him to breath and stay alive. He was 57, M’s age, and had just retired last month. His wife and 14 year old son were not at home when the accident occurred, but they are obviously grief-stricken and distraught over this turn of events.
In a blink your life can change. In a blink you go from happy family planning a month-long adventure in the RV to widow and single parent, fatherless child. In a blink the almost-new RV you had talked about and dreamed about and the different life of retirement years are gone, the RV removed from sight and listed for immediate sale as you contemplate a very different future.
M is 57, same age as this gentleman. Our neighborhood is full of RVs of various shapes and sizes, all appearing in the last couple of months from their winter storage homes and in preparation for the summer adventures. I doubt I will ever look at another RV without thinking about this tragedy. A simple, costly mistake and someone I saw only a few times from my only daily walks is gone.
No matter how the positive side of me tries to spin it, there is no good or happy takeaway from this event. A man is gone, a family shattered. I feel so sorry for them. If anything, it is a cautionary tale. I remind M that things like this are why I ask him to not climb an extension ladder with a chainsaw on a weekday when I am not home. If something were to happen … I shudder at the thought. Most of the time he pooh-poohs my concerns; not today, not this weekend, perhaps not even this summer. An accident has claimed someone geographically close to us, another reminder that life is fragile, mistakes happen, and sometimes the results are genuinely tragic.