Tuesday, August 31, 2021

A Photograph

I took the most poignant picture of my life on Thursday. 

I was on the Interstate, driving down to pick up Eli 20.1, and there was a traffic slowdown due to a wreck. As I got closer, I realized it was serious--a small car (maybe a Mini-Cooper) had run up under a box truck, almost all the way to the trunk. 

I wanted to take a picture to show to Eli, because a somber discussion about how dangerous driving can be is always useful, so as I was going by the wreck at about 5 MPH, I just raised my phone and took a picture (barely even looking). 

Incredibly, the picture was perfect. 

I captured the truck and the small car almost in the center of the frame. I caught the back half of the stretcher, right next to a policeman. In the rear-view mirror were a fire truck and an ambulance. 

This would normally be the point where I show you this picture, because from a photographic and compositional standpoint, it's glorious. 

I can't show you, though, and here's why:
EAST LANSING, MI – Michigan State University rowing team captain Olivia Long has died, the school announced. She was 20.

Long, a native of Lake Orion, died on Friday Aug. 27. According to the Lansing State Journal, her vehicle rear-ended a box truck in Ionia County’s Portland Township while traffic was slowed on I-96 due to another crash in Clinton County, causing her to suffer significant injuries.

Twenty. The same age as Eli. 

It's so hard for people to understand how far they can go in a second or two of inattention. The Interstate speed limit is 70, but almost no one goes 70. The standard speech on that stretch of road is much closer to 80, and in one second at 80 MPH, you travel 117 feet. That's almost forty yards in one second. 

And if you lapse for two seconds, you almost travel the length of a football field. 

It can be difficult sometimes to be fully focused on the road, but the price you pay if you don't is so horribly tragic. And everyone has to live the rest of their lives without you.

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