I saw a man die today. It was a violent death. It wasn’t the first time I’ve seen such.
About twenty-five years ago I was on my way to pick up my son at school. I was on a boulevard and had gone through the intersection when I looked to my left and saw a car running through the intersection on the other side without having stopped first. A motorcycle hit the car broadside. I can still see, in my mind, the fella flying in a high arc over the vehicle and landing head first on the pavement. I pulled over but didn’t get out. I was in shock. Cars on the farther side of the boulevard, where the accident happened, stopped and gave what aid they could. I have never forgotten the image of that man flying through the air and hitting the concrete.
Today, I was on the highway coming home. There was a group of motorcyclists in sleeveless shirts, hair flying in the wind. Behind me I could see another cyclist, this one in black pants, jacket, gloves, and helmet. He was in a hurry and cutting around the vehicles. At the last moment, as we neared the exit ramp, he charged across the don’t-drive-here white lines and took off down the ramp. I kept watching and saw that as he reached the road, he lost control of the cycle. It was a big bike and he had been going much too fast for the exit.
I watched his bike slide sideways and saw him go flying through the air at a speed somewhere between 40 and 50 miles an hour. He was flying well off the ground and while I watched, as if in slow motion, his body horizontal, face up, it twisted and with arms out, he landed on the pavement; landed so hard that he bounced back up, then landed for the last time. There was no movement from him. I was still on the highway and, as the last time, in shock over what I had seen. I pulled out of the lane - against the concrete barrier. I looked over my shoulder and saw that cars had begun to stop on the road. Another still-life image burned into my brain of the motorcycle and it's rider in complete stillness on the road.
After a few minutes I moved along the shoulder, intending to get back into traffic, but stopped again while I caught my breath one more time, and cried for him. I cried all the way home.