Amy. Twenty-seven, pretty, interesting, artistic, and by the looks of pictures on her Facebook page and blog, always smiling. I hear she was getting married in May. I never met her, never read her blog or asked her to friend me on Facebook. She was the friend and fellow blogger of a blogger friend of mine. Social media certainly makes the world smaller, and yesterday evening when my friend posted a short piece about Amy leaving a hole in her heart, about how she would be missing her friend, I wondered, so I clicked the link to Amy’s blog. There was a recent post and nothing seemed amiss. That made me wonder more so I started searching for information on Amy and her city. I found a short, one paragraph article about a six vehicle pileup with one fatality. A female.
And I knew.
Today, almost exactly 24 hours after that crash I read an article that included parts of the initial police report. All six vehicles were being merged into the left lane by State Police because of an accident up ahead. Amy was driving third in line behind two SUVs. There was a pickup behind her and behind that vehicle were two semi trucks. Amy and the two vehicles ahead of her had moved over to the left lane and slowed. The pickup behind her was in the process of moving over and had slowed. The semi behind the pickup tried to move over but couldn’t slow down fast enough, and hit the pickup, spinning it into the median. The semi behind the semi involved in the first crash hit that first semi, then slammed into Amy’s car, spinning it, then rammed into it again, on the driver’s side door, bounced off of her car, and hit each of the two vehicles ahead of Amy, then ran up an embankment and hit the bridge.
How fast do you think that second semi had to have been going to hit the first semi, Amy’s car twice, two other cars and still make it up the embankment to strike the cement bridge? It was snowing yesterday afternoon, terrible weather they say. I’m sure the truck drivers will use the weather card while explaining the reason they couldn’t control their vehicles. But these are professional drivers. We expect more from them. They, of all drivers, should know that bad weather requires everyone, especially big heavy trucks, to slow down. If that second truck had been going slower he might have run into the back of the first semi, but would he have hit Amy twice?
Amy, just like my father who was killed in a crash almost identical, absent the snow, did nothing wrong. She successfully slowed and merged. She had nowhere to go. She was killed because someone else made a mistake. And it’s a mistake that is happening across this country every single day. Four thousand people die in crashes with commercial trucks every year. Yesterday Amy was one of them.
I thought about Amy all day today. And as I drove home into a sky going purple with evening I thought about her family, her boyfriend, the wedding that won’t be, the future that ended so abruptly, the art she won’t make, the children she won’t have. I didn’t realize I was crying for her until I tasted my tears.
I became involved with the Truck Safety Coalition when my dad was killed. We offer comfort and information to families who have suffered the unthinkable. I know right now Amy’s family is reeling with grief. Her friends are in shock. Her fiance is in a black hole. I know this is not the time they want to think about what they should be doing to preserve evidence, what they will need to fight for justice for Amy. But they need to know. I wish I could hold them all in a big hug and gently help them through these first horrible days, weeks, months. Years.
I might never get to do that. But I do want them to know that when I’m working on these issues, when I’m in DC talking to elected officials and agencies and reporters I’ll be holding Amy in my heart right next to my dad. Amy has given me one more reason not to give up.
Amy. I wish I had met you. But you can be sure that I’m not going to forget you. The work we do to advance safety on our roads is done to honor Amy and my dad, and all the others killed and injured in crashes with commercial trucks. We are their voices and we are not going away.
Rest in peace Amy. The world is a little less special without you.
I can see that. Even though I never met you.