I saw that crash on the Taconic last Sunday...
Im sure other people on this board must have seen it as well. I was drvivng home from my summer house upstate. There was a 10 minute rain storm so everyone slowed down, then the rain stopped and everyone sped up again.... Suddenly about a mile from the turn to get on the sawmill, cars just stopped . Brake lights as far as I could see. Stopped in the middle of a three lane highway...There were trees in the median bewtween the north and southbound lanes, and behind the tress was a huge, black plume of smoke going up into the sky. I was on a motorcycle, so i could go between the cars and move up to see what happened. Once I came around the bend, off to the side of the southbound lane, a mini van was upside down, completly engufled in flames. I could feel the heat from the flames as I pulled by. Hundreds of people were running from both sides of the North and South lanes of the Taconic. I pulled over and got off my bike, and try to take in what was happening.
The burning mini van was popping and sparking every once in a while, I assume something inside was making small explosions as they caught fire. I pulled behind a white van on the side of the highway, a Chinese man got out and was talking to me but frankly i cant remember a word we said to each other. About 20 feet from the burning mini van, there were clusters of people kneeling around what I assumed were the crash victims. Every 10 feet or so, there was another cluster, kneeling down.
Each one had a person pumping the chest of the victims while the other people were helping any way the can. Everyone was running with they're cellphones screaming frantically.
I noticed what looked like a station wagon, across the median. The entire front was smashed to the point where you wondered where the hell the engine could have gone. it looked like the cars front began at the front seat. I noticed the cluster of people closest to me, probably 15 feet away, and I saw a pair of tiny blue shorts, and small legs sticking out from the group of people. I knew it was a child, and as the father of a 6 year old daughter, I knew it was a girl. I couldnt see her face, only her blue shorts and her legs. Nothing was moving. A man in a white shirt was pumping her chest, and screaming for help. I thought for a moment of walking over to see what i could do, but it was so chaotic, and there were so many people already. People just abandoned theyre cars on the highway and ran to help. I looked at her legs, and there wasnt a scratch on them. I looked at the man pumping her chest, with the white shirt on. Every so often he'd turn to scream something, and there was no blood on the front of his shirt.I thought about what she may have looked like from the waist up, and I'm really glad I never got to see her face.
There was one cop there when I arrived, and you could see on her face, that she was really freaking out. She must have just pulled up before I got there and was assesing the situation. I'll never forget the look of panic on her face. One man ran passed us and got a first aid kit out of his trunk. All this happened in probably 4 minutes. Now you could hear people screaming to get back in they're cars because the fire engines couldn't get through . The fire engine was stuck behind all the cars on the Northbound side. Sirens and lights wailing.. An EMS guy jumped from the fire truck and started running towords the scene, screaming into his walkie.
I noticed a man leaning against his car weeping. Total strangers were coming up to him and huggin him, and by his body language and his movements of what he was describing, I knew he was one of the people that pulled these kids out of that burning car. He was inconsolable. So were the people hugging him. I got back on my motorcycle, and turned on to the Sawmill, back to NY. I saw her legs and blue shorts over and over again. i could not get them out of my head. I pulled over a mile down the road, got of my bike and starting crying harder then I've cried in a long time. I've been a New Yorker for 23 years. It takes a lot to shock or disturb us, but holy shit , this disturbed me.
It was a horrible thing to see. It's effected me in a surprising way, still is a week later. I have a daughter, and the thought of course thats been running through my head, along with the never ending vision of those little blue shorts, and pale white legs, not moving, it could have been her. In my dreams when i see the man in the white shirt pumping her chest, i walk over and see my daughters face. Not a scratch on her, just eyes closed as if shes sleeping. I imagine thats what that little girl looked like while they were desperatly trying to get her to breathe.
I rode by the spot yesterday coming back from upstate again. Theres a big chunk of earth where the mini van rolled and scorched grass where it sat and burned. I thought I saw a cross with some flowers on it , but I wasnt sure.
As the facts come out about what really happened, and turns out this woman was drunk, and high, I'm torn between anger and incredible sadness. Anger as an adult and father, who's sole purpose in life is to protect, and teach my child right from wrong. Anger having seen a dead child laying in the middle of the median, knowing that child was probably singing or playing with her doll, having no concept she was going the wrong way on a fucking highway, trusting her mother. Completely innocent. My God, I hope 4 those girls died on impact. Never knowing what hit them. I can honestly say, having sene that wreckage, they must have.
Sadness as a husband and father. This man will now have to explain to his only living son, what happened to his mother and his sisters one day. Not to mention the aunts and uncles of the nieces she also killed.
If anyone from these shattered families do read this, you have my deepest sympathy . Its little help but try to take some solace in the fact that hundreds, and I mean hundreds of people ran to help as best they could. It was utter chaos, but these people had the instinct and bravery to jump out of theyre cars, and run to a burning car to pull everyone out. They did the best they could with the little they had. It was truly inspiring......
I will NEVER get the image of those little blue shorts, and legs out of my head......I don't have some big message to end on or a moral of any kind. I'm simply getting what I saw off my chest, though it will be with me for the rest of my life.
Thanks for listening.
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