Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Springfield, Illinois' Intersection From Hell

I drove down the street.
The Street.
The one that made all the difference
In your lives.
The one that killed your son.

You were driving that day.
You took a left turn, but I won't say where.
Let's just say that it was on the north end of town.
It was a day that none of us will ever forget.

Your son was in the front passenger seat.
I don't know if you were speeding.
I don't know if you were responsible at all.
For I have seen that turn.
And it is deadly.

That's right - it is deadly.
That street, at that specific location.
Is as deadly as a loaded gun.

On that day.
That tragic day.
You turned left.
And a car slammed into your car.
On the passenger side.
Killing your son.

It was a car out of nowhere.
At least it must have seemed that way
To you, and your son.

For the car which killed your son was
coming up the hill.
Yes, the intersection is atop a hill.
And it is the hill that makes this intersection
A killer.

Now some might look at the hill
And say that it isn't really a hill at all.
And they would be right.
For there really is no way to tell that the hill
exist until you hit the crest - of the hill.

The slow gentle incline up that hill is ever so mild.
So mild that it doesn't betray the danger at the top.

Nor is there any warning for those coming
from the opposite direction - the direction you came
from on that tragic day.

This spot on the road is an accident waiting to happen.
It is a deadly road inside the city of Springfield Illinois.

Your son was only a year older than my daughter.
And they went to the same school.
They knew each other.

I remember watching your son play basketball.
Your family was totally supportive from the stands.
And your son seemed very athletic.
He, being your oldest son, must have been
your pride and joy.

I will always remember my daughter crying her eyes out.
After she was told of your son's death.
She went to the funeral.
With her little early teen girlfriends.
It was the second funeral of a boy who died
At their school in less than two years.

The City of Springfield has placed a temporary four way stop
At the intersection at the top of the hill.
It looks very temporary indeed.
Shockingly so.
The stop signs are not even posted within the ground.
And it has been three summers since your son was killed.
Leading me to believe that some engineer has prevented
a stop light, or permanent stop sign from being posted
at this killer intersection.

I'm sure the politicians blame the engineers.
And the engineers point at each other.
What does one life cost?
Do the bean counters really care?
They have their arbitrary rule book to refer to.
The one that killed your son, and which will one
day kill others.
It's called cost containment.

Three years later.
I see the flowers that are left on the side of the road.
I see the little string of battery operated miniature lights which
were meant to bring life to the spot where your son died.
I find that heartbreaking.
I guess I just have difficulty turning sorrow to joy.
Please forgive me.

People still remember your son.
They still love him.
And they miss him.

I know that you are the head of
A religious family.
A very religious family.
You surely take comfort in your faith.
And in knowing your son is in Heaven.
With Jesus Christ your savior.

This knowledge has allowed you to heal
both physically, and spiritually.
It has allowed you to continue in the
face of self doubts, and grief.

And in this there is joy.
But it is a joy tempered by fear.
A fear that the killer intersection waits
for yet another victim.

If Springfield, Illinois were a smaller town.
And this were a simpler time.
Someone would just go out, and post a permanent
stop sign.
But trying to save lives in this manner would put
anyone who tried behind bars, and into a cage.

Ironic and unjust as it would be.

Every time I pass by that intersection I can't help but to
wonder how long it will be until the City of Springfield, Illinois
Removes the temporary stop signs atop the hill.
And how long it will be until the next person dies
At that intersection from hell.


jason said...

i'm pretty sure i know exactly where you're talking about. in fact, i think i saw the accident you're referring to, if it was the one that prompted the temporary stop signs, and happened just after 5 pm. i had thought it was a friend of mine, because he would have just gotten out of work too and the cars looked the same.

well, if it is the same, people still ignore the temporary signs. in the past week i've been waiting to turn twice when people have decided to just slow down a little rather than stopping.

whimsical brainpan said...

Why do people have to die before things change? And as you pointed out, even then they don't always change.

email jp






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