By Lori Bredemeyer, Managing Editor
I can still see the two long skid marks on the road where the car screeched to a stop outside my apartment. As I was getting ready to go to church last Sunday, I heard the sound of slamming brakes and tires trying to grab the road, then the distinct sound of car hitting car.
I looked out my window and saw that one driver had pulled out of an intersection, probably didn’t see the other car coming, and broadsided it.
It rattled me because I drive down that road and pass that intersection every day. It could have been me in that car. Even though no one was seriously injured, I felt lucky to have been running a little bit late to church.
I tried to put the incident out of my mind as my friends and I drove to church. But as I was driving down Judge Ely to go grocery shopping later, I passed another wreck.
I’m not sure what happened because I had to keep moving forward and try not to rear-end the car in front of me as we all strained to see what was going on. But I’m pretty sure I did see one or two student standing outside the cars.
I felt paranoid the rest of the day, like I was jinxed and would be the next to have a collision.
It seems as though car wrecks cause more deaths at ACU than anything else. My freshman year, five students from Nigeria were killed on their way back to campus during Easter. The next year, Robbie Sommerwerck died after a truck broadsided his car on Loop 322.
Just this year, junior Cheryl Halbert was killed in August when she lost control of her vehicle and hit a tree, and in September, senior Jamie Cromwell struck former ACU student Ugochucwu Anyanwu’s car from behind, killing him.
Between each of these fatal wrecks through the past few years, the Optimist also has reported on several incidents that have left students in the hospital, recovering from a myriad of injuries.
Last November, at least four students were involved in nonfatal wrecks during the Thanksgiving holidays. And the most recent wreck to affect the ACU community happened last month when a vehicle carrying an adult and seven children from Highland Church of Christ flipped, killing one boy and seriously injuring the others.
Those skid marks on the road outside my apartment are a reminder to me of how easily circumstances in our lives can change. Others have been left with scars, pins and screws, and grief for lost loved ones.
I’ve interviewed Jimmy Ellison, chief of the ACU Police Department, several times about wrecks and how to drive safely. He always tells me the same things each time, many of which might have helped prevent the recent ACU-related crashes.
He always says that to reduce the possibility of being involved in a wreck, students should get plenty of sleep before beginning a trip, be alert and don’t speed when they’re driving, and always wear a seatbelt.
Spring break, warmer weather and an increase in traffic are approaching, and more people will be out and about on the streets.
Students should remember that life isn’t indestructible. Taking precautions and paying attention while driving can help prevent another tragedy.