I did not announce “family stories” as a theme for the whole challenge because I knew there would be days when I would depart from it. Today is one of those days.
Longboat Key – so called because it is shaped like a, well, like a longboat and is about ten miles long with a small drawbridge on the north end and another bigger bridge on the south end going over to Sarasota, the mainland. I was working today on the very north end. I finished my job and headed home. There was a long line of stopped cars as I came to the drawbridge and I assumed a boat was passing through and the bridge was up. A short wait and we moved forward, and then we stopped again. This time the wait was unusually long.
An ambulance came up behind me. The road going over the bridge is only two lanes and the ambulance had no opposing traffic coming from the other direction so it went past. Then a fire truck also went past, siren going, lights flashing. Two police vehicles followed. A couple cars in the line ahead of me turned around on the bridge and headed back south. For me, getting home would be well over an hour if I had to go all the way down to Sarasota to hit the mainland. Surely whatever it was could get cleared up in less time than that. I would wait.
I looked at facebook on my phone, I took some pictures of the boats lined up on the sandbar. About 45 minutes later some pedestrians came across the bridge and were stopping to talk to people waiting in their cars. “The bridge is closed. They are turning traffic back on both sides. Turn around.” they told me. I got out and walked a short way, not even to the middle of the bridge and saw what was left of a small bright green moped crumpled in the middle of the lane. Ahead of it was a black sedan with the back window completely smashed out. A young man was sitting down outside the sedan with his head in his hands. The policeman guarding the scene, came over and confirmed that the bridge would be closed for some time – best to turn around. There was going to be accident reconstruction which probably meant a fatality had occurred.
I headed south,
thinking about the two hours I was spending making the half hour trip home,
thinking about missing lunch and being hungry,
thinking about the man sitting beside his car,
about the hole in his window and the smashed moped.
Someone’s life took a very unexpected turn on that bridge a few hours ago. Someone would not be celebrating Easter in the morning, or perhaps ever again. And yet for me, it was only a detour. I was shaken.