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Saturday, July 29, 2017

What kind of person are you?

Chris Davis - Earlier this week, early Tuesday afternoon, Toni and I were driving on Highway 22 when we were dramatically reminded of the fragility of life and the kindnesses and unkindnesses of strangers.  It so disturbed me that I feel compelled to break away from my usual intended style of keeping some distance from the stories I write.


I was behind the wheel, we were sneaking away for a "weekend" away because we had a couple of obligation-free days.  Just past the Maycroft turnoff the highway was limited to one lane because of an ongoing bridge repair.  When it was our turn to pass through I kept an eye out for a place to pull over to let the accumulated traffic get ahead of us so we could enjoy having the highway mostly to ourselves again, something I do whenever possible to avoid being caught in bumper to bumper leap-frogging traffic that so often transforms an almost empty highway into something more akin to a city driving experience.  Personally, after 20 years in Calgary I got my fill of that kind of driving.  I'd rather have two hours of open road instead of an hour and 55 minutes of tailgating traffic.

We carried on, and I was driving about 10 km/hr over the speed limit, illegal I know but fairly appropriate to the actual highway conditions.  Far ahead of us, the pack continued to jockey for position.  At a bend in the road, not far from the main Waldron(d) ranch, I saw something unusual.  A motorcycle was parked at the southbound side of the road.  A motorcyclist was running through the tall grass, throwing his helmet as he ran.  My initial thought was that he was taking an emergency bathroom break.  It quickly dawned on me that there was a frantic aspect to his gait that suggested something else.  Then I saw the other motorcyclist, somewhat hidden by the bank of the road.  His bike was on the ground a few feet ahead of him, several yards off the highway.  He was flat on his back, and in obvious distress.

I made a quick u-turn as soon as it was safe to do so and doubled back, parked at the side of the highway, and turned on my emergency blinkers.

As I approached the two men, I realised the man on the ground was trying to move while his friend tried to decide how best to help him.  I advised the injured man to stay as still as possible a couple of times.  He showed what looked to me like signs of internal bleeding, and was having difficuulty moving.  His friend was somewhat distraught, and quickly explained what had happened, from his point of view.  According to him, one of those leap-frogging drivers we had avoided a few minutes before pulled out to pass right into the path of oncoming motorcycle, forcing the motorcyclist off the road at a high rate of speed.  That driver didn't even stop, just kept on going.

I'll put in a disclaimer here, I didn't witness the actual incident, just the conditions that led to it, and what I write here is not intended to be evidence in an insurance case, beyond what it is.

By that time a number of other people had stopped to assist as well.  One had a phone, we asked him to call 911 and I offered some information as to our location.  Another identified herself as a nurse, and another man said he had first aid training.  A semi who's driver I believe witnessed the incident was parked further down the highway.  At that point I realised I was now in the way and could help no further, so I got back into our vehicle, and prepared to leave the scene.

Even with several vehicles parked at the side of the highway with their emergency blinkers going, several vehicles blew past at high rates of speed going in both directions.

Once it was safe for me to do so I turned around and we resumed our own journey.

I don't know what became of the injured man, but I will attempt to find out and I will update this story if I do.

I do know that there were two kinds of human beings illustrated clearly to me by the incident. One kind stopped to help in any way they could, interrupting their own lives long enough to be part of a larger community. The other kind needed to get somewhere a few seconds faster, apparently at any cost.
At least one life was changed dramatically for those few seconds.

What kind of person are you?

2 comments:

  1. Chris. Wonderful and inspiring story and lesson drawn from it. It reminds me of one told many years ago involving a Samaritan who was called good for reacting positively.

    Linden Willms

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  2. Thank you Chris for this thought provoking article. Great question at the end regarding "What kind of person are you?" Hopefully it will get people looking at themselves in the mirror and truly doing some soul searching for what kind of person is staring back. Thank you for stopping and seeing what could be done for our fellow human beings and travelers along the road to an unknown future. I believe we are all this ride together. On that note how much time does it truly take to stop along the way to show compassion and lend a hand to our fellow travelers. We will all leave this great planet the same way we came in(with nothing) so why not spare a few seconds or longer if needed to help others as well if we are able to. cheers Rob

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