Thursday, April 6, 2006
I found myself forgetting my journalistic responsibilities Saturday afternoon.
Instead I prioritized and assisted as best as I could at an accident scene not far from my house.
Andy and I had been to run our dog Lacey for a while. Afterwards, Andy wanted to go get a snack, so we decided to take a tired Lacey back home.
We were only there a very short time while Andy got Lacey some water. Then we exited Cedar Hills onto Chulahoma Avenue, and turned toward town.
Less than 100 yards away, I noticed at least one car pulled over on the side of the road and two vehicles in the field on the north side of Chulahoma.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
As we got a bit closer, it was obvious there was a bad accident.
One of the two vehicles involved in the crash was really battered. We saw at least one victim on the ground, apparently thrown from the vehicle.
I asked had rescue personnel been called and was told “yes.”
I decided to also call 911 when the most damaged vehicle started to catch fire.
My compliments go to the dispatcher on the other end. She was in total control - very well trained.
A few seconds later police, fire and ambulance personnel were on the scene.
I decided to drive up and route the traffic around the Woodland Heights circle so it would bypass the accident. I had never directed traffic in my life. But I thought it would be the least I could do under the emergency circumstances.
More officers and another ambulance arrived.
Andy and I watched with concern from a short distance.
“I can’t believe it,” I told him. “I don’t have my camera.”
But then I thought and said, “What I was doing was much more important than any photos.”
Traffic down the hill on Chulahoma from the four-way stop was steady, most people just checking it out.
“What happened?” I guess I was asked 30 times.
“It’s a bad accident. Take this road around,” I would often say.
Many just returned the way they came.
Some I didn’t stop, those needing to get through because they were family members of the victims, and others I couldn’t stop.
I was concerned about the scene getting congested.
We’re all curious when accidents such as this occur and sirens start sounding. My best advice after Saturday is stay away and let the emergency personnel do their jobs. Don’t get in the way.
I’ve even had to learn that over the years as a journalist on various accident scenes.
Being there Saturday, not as a journalist, made me further appreciate our rescue personnel. We can’t tell these people “thank you” enough. It takes a special person to be a policeman, a fireman or an emergency responder.
I became more concerned Saturday when I noticed a helicopter arriving from the distance.
Then when that helicopter departed with one victim, another one came for the other one with injuries. Both landed in the field.
When Holly Springs Fire Chief Kenny Holbrook left the scene, he slowed down and said, “I didn’t know you could do that (re-route traffic) so well. We may have to sign you up as a volunteer with the fire department.”
No thanks “Chief,” I will stick to newspaper work.
Saturday and Sunday, I saw police patrolling that stretch of Chulahoma more. As a nearby resident, I appreciate those efforts.
It’s a stretch of road where we all need to slow down - including yours truly - and I have no knowledge of whether or not speed contributed to Saturday’s accident.
I pray the victims will recover from their injuries.
And the entire ordeal helped me realize a journalist getting the best photos isn’t always the top priority.
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