Friday, March 23, 2007

The thin red line

15 minutes ago I saw a woman die.

I was at the hardware store feeling so happy about my little project. The people in the back of the bus going back to see friends and family in Burma probably felt the same way. The bus, packed with its human cargo and their worldly possessions, was barreling down the road ...looked like the wrong side of the road. It swerved and that is when I looked up and saw the truck hit the curb in the island in the middle of the road. It barrelled through some trees and flipped. The sound of the side of the truck scraping as it slide 100 yards was bone chilling.

I immediately ran to see if there was something I could do. There were a couple of people thrown from the front of the bus which was now pointed in the wrong direction. I decided to stay near them so nobody would try to move them. Then, I saw the woman, her body contorted head under the dash. I could see she was breathing. I both wanted to run over to her and did not want because sometimes you just know that it is going to be terrible. People kept grabbing at the people on the ground in front of me and I would yell and yell"no!" . Finally, a few people got the picture and were protecting the people on the ground. I looked over at the woman and she did not appear to be breathing.

I ran to the back of the truck. People were screaming and moaning. The people in the back were trapped under their belongings. I just started helping people move their stuff and helped get people out of the bus. We thought all the passengers were out but then someone thought they saw movement. We started pulling everything out of the truck. Ultimately, their were no other people.

The police arrived and started moving the victims...they left the crumpled up dead woman for later.

I was in total shock (still am). I can not talk with anyone which I think I really need to help deal with this sort of thing. I walked back to the hardware store to get my motorbike. I saw a man I met earlier and he gave me a big smile/laugh. I realized that it is a common way that Asian people deal with emotions...smiling at totally inappropriate times. Me...I just write about it in my blog. Now I need a good cry.

It is 6 hours later and I have learned that the buses brakes failed. It was going approximatly 100 kilometers an hour (about 60 miles an hour). The driver must have swerved into the island to avoid ramming the bus into the market which the road dead ends into. The act of courage cost him his life...he died in addition to the woman I saw die.


Diane said...

Such terrible sadness. But you did a very good thing, Steve, by taking action when others might've chosen not to. I only hope that I could keep my wits about me in a situation like that, but I would prefer not to be tested.
I hope you find peace in your mind soon.

steve said...