TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Editorials

August 1, 2013

One decision can have tragic consequences

CORBIN — Sometimes things happen for a reason.

That statement has almost become a borderline cliche’ these days.

I don’t always know those reasons, but the older I get the more I’ve come to just accept it.

About mid-morning Wednesday, I got the word of what was called a pretty significant car crash.

As you can see from today’s edition, it was very much significant.

But of course, when I first heard, I had no specific details at all.

However, in this line of work, many times you head out for something that sounds pretty bad, and it turns out to be nothing at all.

Very recently I got word of a possible bus crash with multiple injuries on Highway 90 en route to Cumberland Falls State Park.

One of us headed that way, but got hung up on yet a second crash.

So I jumped in the car and took off — but when I arrived at the scene of the alleged “bus crash,” I spoke with a deputy there.

It was not, in fact, a bus crash. The bus driver had stopped to ask the driver of a car if they were ok — after running off the road.

They weren’t hurt, and neither was their car.

It was one of those goose chases we all have heard about. And I was very glad for it.

However, Wednesday’s crash was a different story.

As I started driving toward the crash site, splatters of rain began painting my windshield.

I sighed, being briefly thankful I had recently replaced my aging wipers.

And then it happened, as it happens to many of us.

I got behind a slow driver.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t pass this one — there were already three or four cars behind the grand marshall of this impromptu parade.

So I resigned myself to creeping along, usually about 10 or 15 miles below the speed limit.

After a few miles, that parade ended with a left turn. But the faster travel was short-lived — another driver decided to pull out into traffic.

This driver made the first driver seem like a contender for the NASCAR circuit.

We went down to 25 miles per hour, and I was ready to pass.

I was even contemplating passing several cars at once just to get around this driver.

But the rain stopped me — I feared sliding along the roadway.

I continued my trek to the southern part of Whitley County, resigned again to putter along as the caboose in this train line.

But once again, a couple of turns and I was on easy street again.

Right up until a woman ran a red light coming from KY 92 onto U.S. 25E south — and this time I slid a little trying to stop pretty quickly since she was crawling along.

Again I was ready to just pop out in the other lane and pass her up.

But again, because of the rain, I held back — but by this time I was getting a bit vocal behind the wheel.

My patience for this stuff had nearly run out.

Finally, I got to the crash site.

I learned that the driver of that vehicle was facing the same problem as I was, except she was going northbound on the same highway.

But she didn’t hold back, and made the decision to try to pass anyway.

The result of that decision left the passenger dead.

I stayed at the scene. I did my job. I talked with a few emergency workers at the crash.

Then I had a few other unrelated things to attend to in Williamsburg.

Then I headed back to the office in Corbin.

I had a great deal of time to think — and I came up with this.

If drivers had the full understanding and comprehension of the ramifications of bad driving decisions, maybe they would be a little more cautious on our roads.

I mean, I left the crash site and saw about a half dozen or more completely stupid driving decisions — and many of these decisions were made in pouring down rain in heavy traffic on northbound I-75.

A woman in a van rode up to my bumper before she got in the passing lane — when I saw her, she was focused on texting on her phone.

A man in a truck cut in and out of traffic because he wanted to exceed the speed limit, although one wrong move on a slippery road and you and several others are toast.

Two drivers from Georgia who looked like they were traveling together rode so close to each other that the only thing that would happen before a fatal crash is someone shouting an expletive.

A couple driving a minivan were passing food to each other when they pulled out in front of me off of Exit 25.

Someone driving a Chrysler ran the new red light at Scuffletown Road — that driver also appeared to be playing with food.

People, it only takes a second. Look at that picture of that Mercury Grand Marquis.

For whatever reason, the decision was made to pass another vehicle — and it killed someone.

Take a hard, long look at that picture — burn it into your memory.

Because one simple decision can have irreversible, tragic consequences.

John Ross is a reporter for the Times-Tribune. He can be reached at jross@thetimestribune.com

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