It was a rainy dangerous day when it happened. I
remember because I got to work late due to all the thunder
I received a call from my Mom about 30 minutes in to my shift. "Tim!",she exclaimed "Patrick's been in an accident!" An officer had come to the house and notified her. All he could say was that she needed to get to North Fulton Hospital ASAP.
I took my time getting to the hospital.The whole commute, I was not worried. After all, my family had already lost three members by tragic means. We paid our dues, right?
My two older brothers Harvey (3) and Joseph (6 mths) were killed in a fire when they were toddlers and my father had been killed a year prior to this day's accident in another fire. No. Patrick was fine; maybe a broken arm or something. It was also September 22nd, Patrick's 25th birthday. With all that to consider, what were the odds? Pretty slim, right?
We turned off the machine on September 23rd, 2000. After all, no one should die on their birthday. I held his hand as he slipped away. Yes. I know everyone dies. However, to have someone ripped out of your life in such a fashion creates a hole that you will never fill.
Since that time, I have worked diligently to make the streets that my family and friends frequent safer. I petitioned Fulton County prior to the incorporation of Milton to lower the speed on my road and have officers in the area more often.
I presented a workshop to Milton City Council, staff and citizens in January of 2009. With a Power Point presentation and almost a month of research, I laid out my plan to make the open road neighborhoods of Milton safer for ALL. Cost to taxpayers would be zero. I also had some local citizens from various walks of life come up and speak as well.
I had hoped that those in charge would utilize some of my suggestions. To date, not one idea has been implemented. Since then, we have lost four more which makes a total of eight since incorporation. Eight too late.
In the wake of this past weekend's tragedy, we ask ourselves yet again; "What to do?" While I could go over the numerous points from my previous Power Point, I will wait. For now, we need to implement the following immediately:
1. Support Our Milton Police Officers - I have had the honor of coming to know many of these heroes who put their lives on the line each and every day to keep my family safe. They are top notch. However, we have had numerous witch hunts against them by various residents upset about a ticket or the like. To those types, sit down and wake up. We pay these people to uphold the laws we voted for to keep citizens safe. Would you rather them take your taxpayer money and do nothing?
2. Hire More Officers - It is known as deductive reasoning people; not that hard to understand.3. Milton Pace Cars - This is one of the recommendations I pushed in my past presentation. The idea is simple. Make a pledge to your family / loved ones that you will obey the speed limits and not drive under the influence and you expect the same from them. A Pace Car Participant would be recognized by a small magnet on the back of their car which simply states "Milton Pace Car." People do a lot of crazy things for love. What is wrong with using such passion to keep yourself safe for your family and them you?
4. Support The Open Road Neighborhood (ORN) Ideology - Like it or not, those that live in our ORNS are in neighborhoods. Look up the definition and you will see that it is more than applicable. The more we groom and educate others that our open roads are neighborhoods and not Milton400, the safer and slower everyone will be.
Will our city leaders finally wake up and do what they need to do? Will we see immediate action? Will lives be saved that would have been lost? I would like to tell you 'yes', but can't. There has been so little action to date. The story of the Pope family will fade into history as so many other tragedies have. Other topics will take precedence and the various agendas to right these wrongs will dissolve with time.
I hope I never have to write a column like this again, but don't bet on it. You can expect next year's piece titled "Ten Too Many." Let's pray they prove me wrong.
I miss you younger brother. Be sure to toss the football with Harvey and Little Joe, but let Dad be all-time quarterback. You know how he loves that...