The Perfect Accident (2/5)

I saw three women looking on across the other side of the road so I walked towards them to ask where the nearest hospital was.  Brazenly I crossed the road with extended arms flashing open palms motioning to the drivers of oncoming vehicles to stop and let me through.

“La Salle,” said two of the women, “near Walter Mart, it’s just nearby.”

I returned to where the man lay.  A handful of residents from across the road have now gathered on the side of the road and around the van to see who the man sprawled on the road was.  Oncoming vehicles on both sides of the highway slowed down to see why there were people in the middle of the road.

“We need to rush him to the hospital,” I said as I urged Mon to help me lift the man into the van, “whether he’s dead or alive… it’s the life of a human being here.”

I pressed my forefinger and middle finger on the side of the man’s neck to check for a pulse beat.  None.

No!

Mon and I could not lift the man by ourselves so we asked for help from anyone among the crowd.

“Would somebody please help us lift this man to the van,” we asked the crowd, “we need to rush him to a hospital.”

One volunteered.  It was enough to enable us to heave the man onto the spacious floor of the van.  A big thud and a muffled groan.  Mon’s wife, Bekha, my wife, Jane, and my seven year old daughter, Maegan, who occupied the middle portion of the van where we laid the man, have moved to the rearmost seat where two other friends, Maribeth and Joel, sat.

“Does anybody recognize this man?” we asked the curious crowd.

Nobody recognized him.

“We need someone to come along with us to the hospital as a witness.”

Nobody came along.

“He’s a goner,” someone in the crowd muttered, “he’s dead.”

LORD, let this man live!  I pleaded in silence.

I went back behind the wheel of the van and drove along the same road looking either for Walter Mart or the La Salle hospital.

LORD, let this man live!  I pleaded in silence.

I had taken responsibility for the life of this man and I was bracing myself for the worst-case scenario — that the man in the van was indeed already dead.

What would happen to me?  Would I go to prison and be separated from my wife and kids?  I couldn’t bear the thought.  How would the relatives of the man react to the tragedy?  How could I face their anger?  That was fearful.  I was steeling myself for the consequences of the action I took of taking the man in the van and bringing him to the hospital.  I was convinced it was the right thing to do.

The thought of running away from the scene of the accident presented itself to my mind, if only for a fleeting moment, immediately after I knew I had hit the man.  The road was dark and I knew nobody could have seen us.  For sure, nobody could have made our plate number.  But the thought was gone as soon as it came because I did not welcome it.

I could run away from the victim but could I run away from my own conscience? 

And yes, no one saw me, none, but the all-seeing eye of Omniscience.  That was enough to lay the case to rest.

But I was gripped by a sense of responsibility for the victim that my first impulse was to rush him to a hospital because that, I thought, was the best chance he had.

“Do you see it?” I asked Mon.

“No, not a sign,” he answered.

We stopped at an intersection where the light had turned red.  While we waited for the light to turn green, Mon asked a pedestrian for directions to La Salle Hospital.

“Turn right at the corner,” the man said, “it’s just down the road — you won’t miss it.”

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