Thoughts from a Fatal Car Accident

Saturday, 12:45 p.m. Red sedan with sheet over the passenger side. The door is open, the sheet covers the opening. Just the fire department and police. No ambulance, though it looks like someone could have died. I’m among others standing and observing from afar.

It’s strange to think that all these cars driving past will never know the story. In fact, this crash may never even cross their minds again. It just seems strange how this could be so important to someone, a loved one, but to everyone else, it’s just a fleeting catastrophe. Maybe this will warrant some gawking, and surely some frustration from the traffic jam this has caused. But that might be all that it warrants from passersby.

A handful of reporters stand at a distance, taking photos and watching, waiting. The police huddle together and seem like they’re conferring.

I look back up and a group of them have lifted the sheet and are dealing with something inside the car. What or whom they are looking at, I can’t be sure; the inside is still not visible to onlookers, and I don’t imagine it will be. Probably for the better, I think to myself.

It’s weird to watch news break because the story hasn’t developed yet and isn’t accessible to the curious/concerned public. I’m now realizing referring to a fatal car crash as a “story” seems quite cold, given the circumstances, but unfortunately, that’s what this is if you’re not a loved one. Still cold, I know. And truly, I wish it wasn’t.

The police gently close the door against the sheet. What happened? Have the ambulances already come and gone? What happened to those people (assuming multiple)?

A guy with a husky passes behind me. The husky politely sniffs the back of my knee.

The front bumper of the car was torn off, assuredly in the accident. Chocolate glaze melts off my shoe from work a couple hours earlier. Employees from the Menards watch too, as if the police might tell us what happened at some point.

The fireman and police are conferring now. Maybe it’s that I can’t make out facial expressions from where I’m standing, but none of them look too torn up about this. Maybe this is just another day at the office for them. And maybe that’s the only way they can stomach tragedy on a regular basis.

Afterward: The man in the red sedan was hit by a semi-truck. The man, John Guffey 46, died in the wreck. The semi driver was uninjured. The semi driver was not under the influence. It is unknown whether Guffey was or not, as of yet. All of this is according to the Columbia Missourian.


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