It’s 3:45am, and I am staring at the digital clock casting a blue glow at the end of my bed. I’m feeling impressed to get up at this early morning hour but I don’t know why. You have had the same feeling and experience tells you to respond immediately.
So, I got out of bed, had my prayer and started getting ready, not sure what I was getting ready for.
My bedroom window faces the Sandy River and normally I can hear traffic but not at this time of morning. The crickets are the only thing I hear outside my window. Their sound is interrupted by a car or possibly a truck speeding down East Columbia Scenic Highway. That is not unusual as traffic oftentimes is in a hurry to get to Interstate 84. What I hear next is unexpected and penetrates through the quiet of the early morning hours. The crickets have even seemed to stop for the moment. The sound is horrific as steel meets dirt and boulders along the highway. I immediately put my ear to the screen and listen. The night is quiet again and all I hear is crickets but no human voices. This is not good. I grab the phone and call 911. I describe what I just heard 90 seconds ago and give an approximate location. Now I hear someone yelling and then they stop. As it turns out it was almost directly across from my window. I was off by a couple hundred feet.
The Multnomah Sheriff’s office is no more than mile and a quarter away and they responded immediately. Emergency vehicles are called to the scene and respond to the injuries of the driver and one passenger. The driver has minor injuries and the passenger is dead at the scene. The male driver was charged with manslaughter in the death of his female passenger. Speed and alcohol have once again claimed another victim. This young woman’s life was taken in less than three seconds.
This has bothered me so much that I decided to look for answers as to how, if we could roll back time, this tragedy could have been avoided, at least for the passenger. I decided to call 911 and the operator referred me to the non-emergency number (503) 823-3333. I asked the operator if the passenger was able to get the car stopped and get out of the car would a deputy or police officer pick her up and take her to the station or other safe location. I was surprised at her answer when she said “yes,” depending on the call volume, location, and time of day or night. She mentioned they may even take her home.
Here is what can we do as parents, grandparents, and friends. First, let them know that they can call you anytime of day or night and you will pick them up, no questions asked. If they aren’t able to get anyone to respond, they can call 911 and give them their location and a deputy or officer will pick them up.
The key is to get out of the car if the driver is impaired because of alcohol or drugs. I have a way that might get the driver to pull over and let you out. Act like you are sick and about to lose it in his or her car and you need to have them pull over, now. Once out of the car run in the opposite direction and hide or head toward a house.
It’s important to have a talk with your children and let them know that you love them and you can always be reached in an emergency. Beyond that there are decisions they make that cannot be avoided in spite of our best efforts. The lives of these two young adults has changed dramatically. One died, and the other is inside a jail cell. How they and their families wish they could roll back the clock.