Friday, June 7, 2013

While I'm on the subject...

IT's pretty high here on my soapbox.  But then again... it is MY soapbox. 

There are so many memories of my previous time on the Island, after all I lived here and conducted business in my shops, for 10 years.  Probably would still have been here had not a divorce happened along...

I often talked about returning, and not just for a visit. 

All this recent talk about lack of Motorcycle Training, record numbers of licensed riders, safety and now of course, recent deaths has been circulating as you would expect on a small close knit Island community.  Riders are wondering what we have to do, how are we ever going to change the public's perception?

I wonder what ever becomes of those that are on the upside (?) of a rider's/driver's death.  I mean of course the person responsible for the death of another road user.

Back in 2007... I had flown out to visit Gail in Truro N.S.  I'd met her somehow by accident through the mysteries of the internet.  That was back in my online dating days and somehow we struck up a conversation via some website or other.  It wasn't until several days had past that we realized we were at opposite ends of the country.  How this revelation came about, I don't recall, but we had been getting along well and it was actually laughable that we were living thousands of kms distant from one another.

She was interested in cats, or maybe it's more appropriate to say, obsessed with rescuing the poor critters that needed a home.  This of course struck a cord with me. 

In one of our frequent conversations, she told me that she had been diagnosed with Cancer and that her planned trip out west to visit her daughter, and perhaps a stop over in Calgary, wasn't likely to take place.  I booked a ticket right after that talk, and headed to Halifax airport.

Part of our week was spent walking around the quaint little town (that has a piece of the Berlin Wall in it's center, don't ask me how or why)... and during our week we headed over to the Island for a visit. 

I was driving her brother's Dodge minivan, mid week, absolutely gorgeous driving conditions.  We had just left highway 104 after gassing up in Masstown and were headed north on major route 4 towards Folly Lake.  I was heading down a long hill with a left hand curve at the bottom.  There is a strange intersection about 3/4 of the way down.  The T to the right takes you into the small town of Debert and opposite is a local road converging at a sharp angle to HW # 4.  A car was coming down the hill towards rte 4.  At this unusual intersection, for any of you that know it, there are two distinct stop sign/lines for vehicles entering the main highway number 4.  If you are going south towards Masstown, you come to a stop and look over your shoulder to safely enter the southbound lane.  If you want to cross highway 4, you align your vehicle perpendicular to the highway at a 90 degree angle so you can scan both directions. 

Got it?

The car coming towards us was in the stop lane proceeding south, opposing us.  At our highway speed we would be covering ground at approximately 80 feet per second.  I clearly saw the car, a Chevy Cavalier come to a stop.  A split second later, the driver (at this time the identity unknown to me) changed their mind and with the wheels turned completely left,  rolled off the stop line and turned across in front of us.  A manuever I was not expecting in the least.  The Chevy drove across the highway to cross onto the local Debert road, and I was only able to veer to the right and very nearly missed the car altogether.  It hit us right behind my driver's door and our speed of ~80kph sent us spinning and off the road to come to a rest sideways, just feet from a steep downhill and only 6 feet from a looming telephone pole. 

Are you still with me?

After checking Gail, who had no idea what had just happened, it took only a split second, I left the vehicle and went to the Cavalier to check on the occupants.  The car had done 1 1/2 complete turns and was now in the very middle of the road facing in the direction from whence it had come.  I found an elderly woman gripping the wheel and upon questioning her if she was alright... her answer, not surprisingly was "what happened and where am I...?" 

It's a fairly busy highway and just beyond where we lay, was a blind curve for anyone coming in our direction.  I enlisted the help of several motorists and someone called for emergency vehicles and police within minutes.  In the meantime I had the car behind us, with a young couple in it, sit in with Gail, who had banged her head against her side window (and my left shoulder did the same on my side) and another car's occupants with the driver of the Chevy. 

After some time emergency vehicles began arriving but the RCMP was nearly an hour, having to come some distance.  During our interview with the police officer, I learned that this elderly lady, was heading to Masstown for coffee... but at the intersection, made a snap decision to proceed to Debert instead, because it was a km or so closer.  She then just turned left directly across our path.  She had absolutely no clue that there was any other traffic on this rather busy road, and drove straight into us oblivious to my radical maneuvering to avoid her car.

I say this to you because I also learned that 10 years previously, at the same intersection, on an identical perfect visibility driving day... she had done exactly then, what she had done now.  In the ensuing collision both occupants of the vehicle coming in the direction we were, had been killed!  That's right, you read that right. 

I asked what charges the officer was going to level and he told me that he wasn't going to lay any!!!  His comment, which I will remember to the day I die was, "Oh... I'm sure she's learned her lesson, and won't be driving any more..."  

Honest, I was dumbfounded.  He insisted that no harm had been done, the vehicles could be repaired... and that was final.  Of course if you were there, it was obvious that neither the Chevy or the Dodge would be on the road again. Period. 

So... what's my point here, where is the bottom line?

Accidents happen.  The other 97% of the time, someone... because of a poor decision, or action or inaction, causes the collision.  In this case we were dam lucky, had Gail and I been out for a Sunday ride,  you wouldn't be reading this now.

As for Gail... the following year, she succumbed to her illness and past away.  A wonderful lady with a heart of gold, and a special place in heaven where all cats love to snuggle.

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