Turning into the intersection, I saw bright lights flashing through the trees. As I neared the lights I saw police cars and a tow truck. There'd been a minor accident involving three cars. No ambulances or fire trucks; not life threatening. And yet, nothing could dissuade me from that nagging dread from before. I turned into the the M3 and not even 1km down the very same road there were more flashing lights. But this time, it was a symphony of lights from all types of emergency vehicles.
Before me stood no less than twenty police cars, two fire trucks and an ambulance. Absolutely nothing, not the colourful lights, or the frenzy of activity could ever prepare me, or warn me, of the catastrophic scene that lay nestled within the cluster of vehicles. In the middle lay debris, if it could even be called that. There was nothing more than a burnt out shell of a small hatch-back, the tyres completely melted away, surrounded by a black patch of incinerated asphalt. The police had directed the fortunately very small flow of traffic into one lane. A lane that bypassed that accident, but giving anyone who drove through an unadulterated view of truly how destructive young people can be when placed inside a car. My breath caught in my throat and I offered a silent prayer even though I felt sick to my stomach. I watched at those who were involved in the accident, but luckily not hurt, came to grips with what they'd narrowly avoided. I didn't fathom the entirety of the situation until I drove directly next to the burnt out wreck. I felt the sickening crunch of broken glass which had blown out from the car's windows. I couldn't keep it in. With a chocked sob I willed myself to look away, praying that no one had lost a life, but knowing deep down I was only lying to myself. The further I pulled away from that horrific scene, the more tears escaped my eyes. I'd never seen such carnage and it rattled me something fierce, something I'd never felt before.
When I was about half-way home, the overwhelming sadness and shock had worn somewhat, and had been replaced by anger. Anger at the drivers of all vehicles; anger at the damage I saw; anger at the thought of how many families had been ripped apart so suddenly, maybe without knowing. The people I saw huddled at the side of the road were no more than teenagers, most likely a bunch of kids looking for their next kick of adrenaline. I felt old and weary looking at them despite only being a few years older. I couldn't believe how this could have happened. How young people risk life and limb in a futile attempt to be cool, or to feel something that excites them. I thought to myself, "how many kids need to die needlessly, just for the simple message to drive responsibly to get into their heads?"
Even now as I type this I think, how can they be so careless with the most precious thing in the world; their lives? I feel a confusing mix of anger, sadness, grief, and disbelief. I feel these things not knowing how or why I should be feeling them, because really, who would do that to themselves?
Now, more than ever, do I understand the meaning of a wasted life. I believe what I saw could have easily been prevented. That I'd rather be uncool than in a body bag. That my life above all is most precious. But I wish these kids could see it the same way.