Accident witness shares her POV • Diane King
Re: "No question this guy was impaired" (Sept. 13, 2012)–I must start this by saying it felt strange to read a newspaper article with the gut-wrenching realization that I am a part of the story. I am referred to in the article as ‘the witness.’ It both saddens me and angers me to read the brief history of events that led me to being said witness.
I’m guessing that among most of the unfortunate people referred to in this article that I am the most unscathed, although there are moments when I don’t feel quite so untouched by these events since every time I approach this area my skin becomes clammy, my scalp prickles and a tension settles between my shoulders. At least a week later, I, being the lucky one, can once again sleep without panic overtaking me. I became a part of this “incident” as I pulled onto 441 from 278. For anyone who is familiar with this stretch of highway, one will realize that there is just a short distance before, after the bridge, the two northbound lanes merge into one lane. It was here that I realized a silver car was bearing down on me. Thinking that someone was in a great hurry, I hugged the shoulder and slowed just a bit to allow them passage. QUICKLY I learned that was not this person’s desire. For two miles I dealt with an overwhelming certainty that I was going to be rammed or run off the road. The car behind me would veer to one side of the lane to the other, at times so close to the rear of my car that it felt as though the man behind the wheel was in my backseat. In a complete panic and at excessive speeds my mind worked overtime to keep control of the fear that was enveloping me. For split seconds at a time I would glance in my rearview mirror to get an idea of where he was and my eyes always focused on him–both his hands were clasped on the steering wheel that he was hunched over and it appeared that he was wildly screaming. As we neared Brown’s Lake, he got so close that I thought he might even be touching my bumper then he started jerking his steering wheel, lurching his car back and forth, fearing that I was in for a definite impact I hit the gas and shot forward just as he veered and shot off the highway and headed down an embankment. I immediately pulled in a driveway and called 911. As I was speaking to them he lunged back on the road. Within what seemed like just a matter of seconds he had touched the lives of innocent people who weren’t as lucky as me.
No one respects law enforcement more than I do, but I feel as though mistakes were made, either policies weren’t in place to cover this type of situation or, if so, they weren’t followed. It is not my place to judge; I only hope that lessons will be learned from this horrible tragedy that will prevent such an incident in the future.
My heart goes out to all involved.
Printed in the September 27, 2012 edition