It has become tradition for my family to spend Thanksgiving with the family of my mother’s sister and her husband and this year was no different. Tired parade floats and badly synched singers vied for screentime as we prepared for the trip southward. Per tradition we left left the house late and fussy. Traffic was relatively light and in thirty minutes we were in sight of the pastures (my aunt and uncle have cows). As we approached the western edge of the property we spotted my uncle doing something with the old red barn set behind the barbed wire fence, less than thirty feet from the road. What he was doing was staring. Someone had crashed into the barn and the remains of the eastern corner of the building were strewn across pastureland as though a tornado had been through.
After helping my Mom unload the food into my aunt’s house my Dad and I strolled down to join my uncle in looking the barn. Around 2am a car had skidded off the road, torn through the fence and blown out the corner of the barn. First responders were unable to revive one of the passengers and she died in the pasture. The second girl was life-flighted out.
Walking around the field we found traces of the young crash victims… cloth flowers from a Hawaaiin lei were blowing around the pasture, burying themselves in the long grass. We found pens, receipts, mix CDs… all the sorts of things that you have with you when the last thing in your mind is that this could be your last day.
It was a sobering way to start Thanksgiving – I can’t imagine what it must be like for the families of those who were in the accident.