This is one of those get a cup of coffee emails. Even if you don't read this now, I hope you will at some point. In advance I apologize but I still cannot accept that someone has lost their life on our roads again. Not one but two this time.
I just received this photo of the dad from a friend who knew him and when I look into his eyes I just cannot stop crying. I suppose that is his son on the right that may have been in the accident and lost his life as well. And there, is that the wife and mom? I'm completely sick and saddened and I don't even know these people. I'm seriously hurting because just by looking into his eyes, and even before I saw their picture, I knew he was a good man. A loving husband. A great father.
What do we do with this grief for a neighbor? How do we just go on and on? How do we help the family? How can I express my dismay and grief --and, I don't know how to explain to you how deeply it affects me and my own family. Every time. There have been too many fatal accidents in the short time we've lived in Milton. It's like we live in fear. Every time there is a death, it stirs up again.
The first time this happened was the night of the first Milton election. A boy named Parker Jackson. I'm speechless when I think of him. I do not know why his death so profoundly affected me but it did. He really did. As most of you know, his legacy is golden at Milton High School. I didn't know it at the time but I stood at the road of Summit Hill in the rain with a council person's sign as his mom stood on the opposite corner with the opponent's. We watched the ambulances go by together. Little did we know. But then almost instantly I had this sinking feeling in my entire being because I just knew.
Last night something happened and I want to tell you. I swear it is true.
My friend's son came up the driveway in his brand new truck. He and three other Milton High School boys. A couple of them wearing their Letterman jackets. It looked like a scene out of a movie. After I gushed over their high school's musical production of Grease I saw the night before, I stopped them before they left. I walked up to the brand new 17 year old driver in his brand new truck and I said this: I know you will think I'm a crazy mom which I am but will you please listen to me and stay off two roads in our area. Birmingham Highway and anywhere on Providence or New Providence Roads. I looked into his eyes in fact all of theirs, and said I knew that they knew why. They all did. Every one of them.
Our roads are not safe. Weather gets bad. People speed or talk on their phone. Good drivers mess up. Good kids mess up. Great Dads mess up. Look at him
It doesn't matter how the accident happens, who is at fault, but rather how are you supposed to not hit a tree if your tires go off the road even one foot. It is the natural landscape on the sides of our roads. Often there is nowhere to go. We have hundreds of houses where there were only two or three in a mile, and more people are trying to pass on two lanes at 50+ miles per hour than ever. It's because it rains and accidents happen in the rain but because there is nowhere to go but off the road downhill driving in most cases at 40-50+ miles per hour we don't survive. Sometimes not even driving that fast. You just try to avoid the center line because normal human error puts you over the line sometimes yourself at that rate of speed.
We all know it. Anyone who lives here knows it.
If you've moved to Milton from somewhere else like me then you know what it felt like when you first drove here. You cannot believe how fast you must drive on roads like Freemanville or Hopewell in such a long, narrow section of road! And then soon you get right in the groove and do the same thing. You get comfortable with it. That's not okay when none of us know how to run off the road properly, as if there is a way to do this at the posted speed limit. It's not okay when some of my elderly Milton friends have to get their mail in fear every day or sometimes can't get it because of a freeway in front of their house either.
What are we going to do? I'm still flabbergasted that the State has not fixed the "Bermuda Triangle" of Milton at the intersection of New Providence and Birmingham Hwy. Can you imagine? How many accidents have happened there and near heart attacks we all have when trying to cross each day. It's like a really bad nightmare that won't end. But we have to live it every single day to get our families to the other side of the road.
Take a closer look into the eyes of this family. We have to do something. I think we have a Responsibility here. Every single death seems to be because no matter what you do - it doesn't matter how, why, what or where - if you go off the road you will hit a tree and die. This man didn't have to die. Parker Jackson didn't either. And the other ones. We should not only protect families from harm but also families who grieve every time there is a loss in our community. The ones who witness the death at the scene. That's not okay. And those of us who see ourselves just like these people. We are human. I'm so afraid it will be you or me.
I'm painfully sad over this and so very afraid for our community.
Will anyone do something or do I have to try and just let it all go.
Thanks for listening.
PS What do I want you may ask? I want a city-wide maximum speed limit of 35 mph. I want that death trap intersection fixed immediately. I want 3 and 4-way stop signs everywhere. I want those roadside warning signs showing a car going off the road and hitting a tree with a big "x" in red. I WANT the Milton Police to collect revenue and then turn around to educate us all. Go ahead, ticket me. I want that small town feeling where we all know the officers names and the teenagers, and even me, know that they are watching out for them. That village thing. Make a presence. We need that. We need You. We need to be Safe. That's what I want.