An event that changed a life

Editor’s note: The following was written by Thomas Watling when he was in Year 12 for an English class. He thinks, as do we, it is just as pertinent now as it was then.

That was the day where I had been woken up at 8am to help my little sister Lydia with a pool cleaning instruction.

I had my breakfast and got outside to give her a lesson. I had been out in the sun for three hours and it was time for lunch. After lunch at 12:30 I left my sister at home to do what she pleased and made my way around the island to pick up my friends to go surfing.

We went surfing from about three in the afternoon till seven at night. After surfing for four hours I dropped my friends off home and told them that we would hang out that night at a few bars or something.

Starting in West Bay at one end of the Island my friends and I went to a few restaurant bars to start our drinking night.

I, of course, was the driver and therefore the DD (Designated Driver).

After stopping around at our favourite drinking spots in West Bay we made out way down toward where all the tourist action was…Seven Mile Beach!

Severn Mile Beach was where all the partying was going on. We decided to go down to the local spot at Seven Mile Beach to finish up the last 12 beers that we had in the back of the truck in a cooler.

Driving at 30 miles per hour, my friends in the back were all in a daze from the alcohol. They didn’t notice that we were going way below the speed limit, well until we hit the main road that is.

As soon as we turned off to the main road everyone in the back pressured me to go on faster, faster. (But you see it doesn’t work that way when you’re driving a 1989 Chevy Suburban and you only have a half a year of driving under your belt. Accidents can happen).

We were going about five to eight miles faster than the speed limit until there was a small red Honda hatch back Civic in front of us going at 35 miles per hour.

I was urged by my friends to overtake him but because of my size this was not going to happen. I mean what if I had to break all of a sudden?

That would take me another 10-20 feet more than a regular car; nope not worth the risk. So we went below the speed limit at 35 instead of 40.

My friends were so occupied in the back of my truck with the music and booze that they didn’t realize that we passed the local spot at Seven Mile Beach. I didn’t realize that we had passed either because I was concentrating on the small red car in front of that was going below the speed limit. There were two people in the car and they seemed to be having either a serious conversation or were intoxicated.

I was off in my own zone in the front checking my middle mirror every 10 seconds to make sure everything was doing all right in the back. Looking forward I saw that the Hyatt bridge was approaching and this was the time to concentrate a little more on the road because of the stupid drunk tourists that randomly try to cross the road while the cars are still passing by. (As I said stupid; the tourists while on holiday really have bad judgment).

Suddenly in front of us just under the Hyatt Bridge there was a couple that looked quite drunk trying to cross the street while cars were passing. From our perspective the red Civic could have slowed down way in time for the drunken tourists to pass by, but instead continued.

‘STOP!!!

‘STOP!!!’

Shouting and screams came from the inside of my truck demanding me to stop the car. I slammed on the brakes.

I was looking in horror in front of me. Two people had been hit. The car in front of us flipped the bodies 10 feet in the air. The Civic slammed on the brakes, screeched then slammed into the sidewalk.

The people that were hit were still in the air after the Civic had come to a full stop.

My truck stopped within 10 feet of the bodies.

The first body dropped down and bounced on its head. The second dropped and landed on its feet then bounced back up in the air a good three feet to land on its back.

Blood was all over the road.

I soon moved from where I stopped and I parked across the road from the accident. I called the ambulance.

In a rush of words I told the operator where we were and what had happened. My friends and I heard horrific screaming, crying and shouting from others around the scene.

I got in the car with my friends and moved down to a local gas station where we sat for an hour and a half in silence, shocked.

Later on I was on my way back up toward the accident. My friends and I decided to let the officer on duty of the accident know what we had experienced.

He took a statement that was later recorded and used in court the following week.

A week- and-a-half later a girl friend who was with us during the accident met the woman’s mother that hat been in the accident.

The mother was getting her hair done at the same time as my friend and found out what happened to the man and woman that were hit.

Annie, my friend, found out that the woman now has half of her face and the man was in the hospital in a coma. Two days ago he had died.

Wow!

That experience was enough to scare me off the road and away from cars for a while.

An experience like this has helped me to have a higher respect for speed. I now stress even more to never drive under the influence of alcohol; to never go driving while tired or stressed. Most of all to ‘drive defensively,’ a quote from Terry Watling.

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