Tuesday, February 5, 2013

PSA: Wear a helmet!

At this time last week Nick was driving me home from a horrific dental experience near Leogane.  (The dentist began a root canal on a presumed dead tooth with no x-rays and ended up my tooth and drilling into my gum.  This was unbeknownst to me until yesterday when this was discovered by another dentist (with an x-ray machine) was trying to determine why I am still having pain.)  But this is not a PSA about not getting root canals in 3rd world countries...  though it could be.  But sometimes you don't have any choice, so...  I am digressing.

Anyhow, while most traffic in Haiti keeps you moving at a pace no faster than a crawl, there is a long stretch of road outside of Leogane where you can get up some good speeds.  (And by good speeds, I mean like probably up to 55 MPH.)

It was along this stretch of road that we witnessed a horrific motorcycle collision in which one of the riders (not sure if it was the passenger or the driver) was thrown high into the air, spun around, and landed with a thud on the pavement.  The other rider met a similar fate I'd assume, although our view was obstructed by the van in front of us.  It was a horrible scene.  Nick and I saw the whole thing and felt like we had to stop to see if we could offer anyone a ride to the hospital.

Turns out that was not needed.  The van (public transportation) in front of us came to a stop and immediately everyone filed off and went to check on the accident victims.  One of them was lying there facedown and wasn't moving.  The other was passed out for just a few moments and then came to.  He started trying to walk and ended up walking in a circle only to fall again, pass out, come to and try to walk again.  The first guy still hadn't moved. Someone was checking his pulse, but then was pushed out of the way by some guys who picked him up loaded him into the van.  He still never regained consciousness and we assume he was dead.   After we asked someone if any other immediate help was needed, (it wasn't) we were on our way, a bit shaken by what we saw.

We've seen many accidents before.  We've seen other dead bodies before.  We've seen dead bodies laying on the road as a result of motorcycle accidents.  But for some reason, this one has stuck with me.  It's been a week now and I can still see the impact, hear the crunch, and watch the rider go flying into the air.  I do not think I am "traumatized" by witnessing the event, but I do find myself thinking about it and how fragile life is.

Anyhow, my point of recapping this tale is this-- FRIENDS, WEAR A HELMET IF YOU'RE GOING TO RIDE A MOTORCYCLE!  This is a no-brainer.  A lot of times motos ARE the best transportation around Haiti, especially in traffic-prone areas.  I don't know if helmets would have saved a life (or lives, because we don't know what happened to the other guy either) last week.  You can still die even if you were wearing a helmet.  But I know that it couldn't have hurt.   Sure, a lot of people ride around down here without helmets on.  But we're seeing more and more people make the choice to wear them.  I would encourage you all to be numbered among the WISE who wear helmets.  It's just stupid not to.

*Stepping off my soapbox now.*