The worst part about my job is covering wrecks. Most of the ones I’ve covered have been relatively minor, but last Thursday was different. The scene rattled me pretty deeply.
I parked my car alongside Highway 8 atop Harrison Ferry Mountain and made my way toward the scene of the wreck. The truck was totally unrecognizable. I looked for any markings on the charred vehicle that was overturned and leaning against the guardrail and snapped a few quick shots.
Then, family and friends started showing up. A young girl began squalling accompanied by a lady looking around helplessly, crying softly, but also attempting to hold it together long enough to get information from the officers.
An officer told me a helicopter would be there in four minutes to airlift the teen so I retreated to a nearby field to get a couple of shots as it landed. It circled once and suddenly a big red truck came barreling by. The officers yelled for him to get out of the way while he hollered out his window “That’s my son!”
I watched as the father and several officers bent down in a circle on the grass and prayed while the helicopter landed. They remained huddled together for several minutes. When they rose, one officer wiped a tear from his eye. Proverbs 17:17 popped into my mind. A true brother is always ready to help in times of need or trouble.
As I started to leave the scene, I noticed the parked vehicles lining the highway. They rolled their windows down hoping for an update while I determinedly walked past the long stretch to my car without looking their way. A car pulled up behind me and another girl jumped out crying and sprinted down the road.
It reminded me of the day Leah died. The anniversary of her death is right around the corner. I had a flashback as I got into my car of the feelings I had experienced – confusion, shock, disbelief, and pain. I said a quick prayer for the injured teen and his family before driving back down the mountain.
When I got off work, I went to the Back Porch Auction and Event Center to hear the debate held for the County Executive and Sheriff candidates. A lady asked me, “Are you Ken’s granddaughter? Are you related to his granddaughter that fell from that balcony?”
Those words are as gruesome to me now as they were then, but I nodded. Then she told me an amazing story of how Leah treated her sister, who had Down syndrome, with such kindness when they would eat at KFC. She told me Leah went out of her way on several occasions to make their dining experience the best possible and they were devastated by her loss.
I needed those kind words and I believe so often others do too. Don’t hesitate to share an uplifting memory, words of encouragement or compliments whenever you get the opportunity.
Standard reporter Lacy Garrison can be reached at 473-2191.