I saw her in my periphery as I turned left at the light.
Tall and slender. Holding a phone, I think.
The sight of her immediately caused my heart to race and my eyes to tear up.
Moments before, while waiting for the light to change green, I had raised my phone and asked Siri, the automated helper on iPhones, to get me to a particular park.
As the light turned green, I noticed the car coming toward me was turning to its left, meaning I could turn without waiting for that car.
As I turned, the mechanical Siri said, “Getting directions to Melbourne International Park.”
Not what I was expecting to hear, so I glanced down briefly to be sure I had heard the voice correctly.
Then, I saw her. The tall, slender woman.
In the crosswalk.
My glance was only a split second. I had checked out the car behind me, in front of me, to my right and even to my left.
How had I missed this woman?
In the crosswalk. Inches from my car.
At 3:15 in the afternoon.
From the intersection to my next turn was exactly one mile, the mechanical voice had told me. That one mile came quickly, but all I could think was how my glance had almost changed my life … and the tall, slender woman’s life.
One split-second glance.
The day before, I had talked with my mother about a man in my hometown charged with involuntary vehicular manslaughter. The man was distracted and ran off the road and into four people who were walking on the shoulder. One died at the scene.
In Georgia, involuntary vehicular manslaughter is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
Mother was concerned that the man was not being punished enough with such a light sentence and fine.
I reminded her that the man’s life has changed forever. He killed two people. Even though their deaths weren’t deliberate, this man has to live with knowing he has killed two people.
These thoughts flashed through my mind as I drove farther and farther from the scene, especially when an emergency vehicle, sirens blaring and lights flashing, came toward me, stopping traffic during that one-mile to my next turn.
That could have been me, but for the grace of God.
I don’t know if the woman saw me, and scooted out of the way, out of the intersection, just in time.
I made it safely to my destination, but the tall, slender woman remained on my mind, etched in my psyche.
She’s there still.
I wasn’t texting. I had used my ear buds with microphone to get the directions.
I was using my phone hands-free.
That glance, though. That glance was a distraction.
In hindsight, the directions to my destination weren’t so important that I should have looked down at that moment. My most important job at that moment should have been clearing the intersection – safely.
I should have gotten the directions before I ever started up the car, not while the car was moving. Certainly not while waiting at a traffic light.
The tall, slender woman doesn’t know it, but our lives are forever connected. Because of her, because I hadn’t seen her … and … almost … hit … her, my driving habits will change.
No more distractions.
- A reader worries about a crosswalk – the city will take a look (ocregister.com)
- Bangor boy walking to school hit by truck at site of July fatality (bangordailynews.com)
- Witness recounts woman being struck on skateboard (ocregister.com)