Hello, pleased to meet you. My name is George and I have a story to tell.
It’s not a pretty story, but it’s one I live with every day.
It’s not a love story, there is too much lost to have anything left to love.
It’s not even a story you’ll want to tell your kids, although for their own sake maybe you should before they turn eighteen.
So you have been warned, read on if you wish.
I used to drive a sixteen tonne Isuzu FVR950 truck, it was red in colour, had a shiny aluminium bullbar with two large Narva driving lights mounted to it. A 255 horsepower diesel engine and a 7.3 metre pantech body with a 1.7 tonne Tieman tail lift. I worked for a major manufacture of baked products and I delivered their inventory six nights a week so that you, the customer, could have fresh baked goods on the shelves of you favourite supermarket when you got up in the morning.
I loved my job, someone else paid all the bills and paid me a wage but I was essentially my own boss, on the road by myself with no one else to answer too and no one else to blame. Sure the hours played merry hell with my personal life as I slept most of the day, the same hours my new wife Penny worked. But we made do, sort of, we even joked that we had the perfect marriage because we never saw each other.
Having no one else to blame in my line of work never really bothered me, I didn’t make stuff ups often and if I did I was happy to own them. What I didn’t realise was that there are some mistakes you just don’t want to own.
I was headed down Clarkes Road one morning, its a long dead straight country road that goes for more than forty kilometres. It intersects with something like twelve crossroads, each intersection is wide open and from any direction the intersecting roads can be seen clearly for hundreds of metres. According to the time on the digital clock in the dashboard, and the radio announcer, it was 6:17am, I’d been on the road delivering to supermarkets for just over eight hours and the sun was just rising over the eastern horizon.
Despite the sun only just waking up the day was already well lit and clear, it was going to be a warm summer’s day with no wind. Although a little worn out from the fifteen drop off’s I’d already completed I was far from tired but I was counting down the hours and kilometres until I could knock off at 10am.
I’d just passed the Holmes Road intersection and was headed towards Canberry Road. I was travelling at 97kph, three kilometres under the legal speed limit thanks to the speed limiter fitted to the gearbox of the truck. I was about 300 metres from the Canberry Road intersection when I first saw the silver Commodore wagon. Despite the Commodore having the stop sign, due to Clarkes Road being the major thoroughfare I never took anything for granted.
I immediately lifted my foot from the accelerator and dropped the speed of the truck by a few kilometres. I kept my eye on the car. Several seconds later preparing for the worst hoping for the best I lifted my foot off the pedal completely. The exhaust brake farted into life as I moved my foot to the brake pedal. As a seasoned truck driver in a truck I’d done well over 250,000 kilometres in I knew the air brakes took several seconds to engage once the pedal was depressed so without thinking I moved my foot onto the brake pedal.
By the time it was clear to me that the silver Commodore was not going to stop I had my foot firmly down on the brake pedal. I could feel the weight of the load in the pantech behind me shift forward and the nose of the truck dip as I washed speed off as fast as I could. The brakes locked, the tyres began skidding and not that it was a huge concern to me but the shifting load was being scattered throughout the back of the truck. Even with the speed I was able to wipe off I knew it wasn’t going to be enough, the Commodore coming from my left had not slowed at all.
With a deep culvert drain to my left and a water irrigation drain to my right I had no choice but to keep the truck on the bitumen, but I also knew that keeping the truck straight was going to end badly. Although everything happened in a matter of seconds to me it felt like forever as time seemed to move in slow motion.
When the Commodore finally crossed it’s way into the intersection I was still moving at 42 kilometres per hour (according to the speedo that broke on impact). By that stage I was a passenger, I could do nothing other than hold onto the steering wheel, brace myself and hope that the seat belt would do the job it was suppose to do.
My shiny silver bullbar slammed into the driver’s door twisting soft metal and smashing lights. However before I even heard the crunching of metal and the smashing glass I saw the face of the driver. In actuality it wasn’t her face I saw it was the whites of her blood shot eyes as she gaped at my truck, finally realising what she had done.
I could hear grinding metal, I could hear screeching tyres and I could hear the smashing of glass, but most of all I could hear the terrified scream, which was all mine. My truck pushed the helpless car through the intersection and further down Clarkes Road before the entire twisted mess came to a stop.
The car ended up on it’s roof and although I was still concious and aware of my surroundings I could no longer see even the blood shot eyes of the girl in the car. The steam from my broken radiator quickly filled the cabin of my truck before dispersing just as quickly through the broken windows. It wasn’t until I tried to move I realised my legs had been pinned below the steering column. Reaching for my mobile phone I dialled for help but I don’t remember any of the conversation.
That accident happened eight years ago. I spent three weeks in hospital recovering from my injuries but it wasn’t the psychical injuries that caused me the problems. Even after seven years of counselling I still see those blood shot eyes, hear the grinding metal, smell the screeching tyres and feel the massive impact as the two vehicles collided and I see them every time I close my eyes. Some time in those seven years of hell I lost my wife, my family and my sanity but I didn’t loose my life like Michelle Ducksberry did.
So when I said before that there was some mistakes you didn’t wont to own, here is one of them. Does it make it any easier to handle that the mistake that I own, the mistake that owns me, was not my mistake? Not at all! Everyday I live with the mistake Michelle made when she chose to drive home from a night out still drunk and still high on smack.
My life was ruined through the mistakes of others, don’t let your life, or the lives of the ones you love suffer the same fate. Treat the road with the respect it deserves. No driver is perfect and all drivers make mistakes so don’t let your mistake be someone elses life long problem.