June 29, 2011
Tragic Bus Accident
Early yesterday morning, 16 people died in a gruesome wreck just a few minutes from our house. They were traveling on a double-level bus and hit a large truck basically head on. The details are still sketchy, but the impact was incredible. The entire bus was sitting on the road off it's base, like you'd just scooted it right off the axles and steel plate. (Click on the picture to go to the news article. NOTE: It's written in Spanish.)
We were on the road that day, and more than once I commented over the speed that these buses travel on these less than ideal roads. They come around curves at ridiculous speeds, that would put the General Lee on two wheels in a heartbeat. They have these shock systems (or something like that) that keep them from tipping over when they turn so sharply, and I can attest that from the inside, the riders never realize that they're making crazy turns. It's a very smooth ride. But to watch them from the outside, it looks like they'll tip right over. I had no idea when we talked about how unsafe they are, that we'd come home to news stories and horrid pictures of bodies that weren't quite "bodies" any more. Just awful.
And just one week before, Saul and a visiting professor from Lee University took one of these huge buses on the same five-hour cross-country trip, passing this same spot. The two-story ones generally make longer trips and don't stop often. The normal, school-bus sized ones, are more common but just as dangerous.
We have a friend Grecia (GRAY see uh), a youth from church, who was run over by a common bus a couple of weeks ago. The "rules of the road" as these buses go, dictate that they slow down just a tad, and folks jump on or off during this time. (Any wonder Ken refuses to let me take the bus to therapy?) I think "officially" they're supposed to stop and wait, but time is money. Well, our friend was getting on, when the bus took off a bit suddenly. She lost her footing, fell down, and the bus wheel ran over her from her toes to her hips. She told me it was like slow motion, and that she waited for it to run over her trunk and then her head, while she was unable to move. She knew she was a few seconds from death and was already imagining "the other side". Someone screamed, and the driver stopped, then backed up. So she was basically run over twice, crushing the bones around her lower leg and ankle, and destroying the soft tissue of her upper leg. She said she was thanking God so much for her life, that the people around her began to get excited and do the same. Get this... the driver had a schedule to keep, so--are you ready?--he kept going. HE RAN OVER A YOUNG GIRL AND KEPT GOING!!!!
One of my fellow patients in PT has a similar story, although she wasn't knocked under the bus. She fell as she was trying to get off and the bus suddenly jerked forward. I asked if the driver stopped to see if she was okay, or if they offered to help her, but her reply was, "Oh, no. We all know how the buses are here, and it's just a chance we take." And there are soooo many people who rely on the buses as their ONLY way of transportation, so many who aren't really in physical shape to be jumping on and hurrying off again.
There have been lots of deadly accidents involving the buses lately. I heard a radio program the other day encouraging the riders to stand up to the drivers and demand that they slow down or drive more carefully, but I can't imagine this EVER happening. I've been on many buses where the driver was racing another bus, or a car, or a motorcycle, and they're always counting the change and issuing the tickets while they drive (no, not looking at the road). I can't tell you how many times I've seen them clip other vehicles (once it was ours) or run people off the road. One guy in particular, which I try to avoid, is always racing against his watch, having his assistant time him on different legs of the trip. And of course, the bus is packed with more than double its allotted maximum passengers, most of whom are standing up while he flies over speed bumps and zooms around the curves. But the consequences are few for the drivers, and they're hardly ever held responsible for the wrongs they get caught at. I wish you could have seen the driver's face when he hit our car and we were copying down his information. He knew it didn't matter one bit....
Well, that's my rant about the bus lines in PY. Please pray for the families of these killed yesterday, and for the others who were injured. And our friend Grecia would appreciate your prayers as she recovers. She's making good use of the wheelchair and walker I've "grown out of" and is happy to be alive!