Caron Lemay and her daughter Stella bike to school in Kirkland together regularly. But they are both haunted by what they saw, heard and felt one day on the way to school, when a person driving failed to see a man walking in the crosswalk and hit him hard.
Caron and Stella’s story is jarring and powerful, but it is unfortunately not uncommon. It’s a potent insight into just how wide the wake of trauma can be following a roadway tragedy, even to those not directly involved.
Caron testified in the State Legislature in favor of increased funding for biking and walking safety funds. Though the legislative session ended without such a funding package, her story is still powerful. Please, read the whole story on the Bicycle Alliance of Washington’s blog. Here’s an excerpt:
I went back to Stella. She was still screaming. My ears were finally starting to work properly and I realized she was screaming “Mommy!” over and over again, tears streaming down her face. I also realized that I had blood on my right hand from where I had touched him; I used my water bottle from my bike to rinse the man’s blood off.
Seeing blood on my hand was too much for her–she was terrified. I hugged her and asked if she wanted to stay and wait for the ambulance to “come fix the man.” She screamed, “No! No I want to leave this place!”
No one had moved their cars from the intersection; everyone was stopped. I lifted my kickstand and pushed the bike into the intersection, taking Stella’s hand. The light was at the end of a green now. We crossed, then walked the first bit of the way on the sidewalk. When we finally got to the pedestrian overpass we were back on our bikes again. At the other side of the overpass I stopped us again and called 9-1-1 to give my name and number as a witness for the collision. Stella wanted to know why I was calling, so I explained.
Caron now volunteers with Kirkland Neighborhood Greenways. Be safe out there and take action. We can make our streets safe.
2 responses to “BikeWA: Stella and Caron search for meaning and solutions after witnessing a horrifying collision in Kirkland”
What a tragedy! I hope the driver gets cited under the Vulnerable User Law.
That’s a horrific story, worse because we know it’s repeated with endless variations on a daily basis. It’s simply amazing what we can become accustomed to enduring.
What’s also amazing is the seemingly endless elliptical discussion dancing around a problem that has been already been solved but for which we refuse to implement the solution. We could make a start on ending our daily horror show by choosing to enforce traffic regulations, strenuously. But we don’t. Instead we choose carnage.
>30,000 persons lose their lives each year due to so-called “automobile accidents.” We focus much of our safety effort on drunk drivers, but most automotive fatalities don’t involve intoxication but are the result of intentional decisions to answer a phone call, ignore speed limits or otherwise fail to fully engage with the serious business of driving. These are not really accidents at all but are the result of failure to anticipate outcomes of poor choices. Choosing poorly is not accidental and neither is the result of poor choice.
So when we try to fix our broken schedules by driving faster, in a better world we should anticipate the outcome being a shockingly stiff penalty, enough to permanently change our behavior, or scare us into avoiding making such a poor choice at all.
Based on results with red light cameras and attempts to automate speeding tickets, we’re collectively simply too infantile to understand all of this at a level that will allow us to be brought to heel. It’s easier to talk rather than face consequences. We choose to talk. Hence yet more committee hearings.