Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Dead bodies on the side of the road

They just found two dead bodies in different parts of the Scranton area. One was a badly decomposed corpse found along the Lackawanna River in Scranton itself - it could be anybody, and it will probably be a long time before it is identified, if ever. The other was a hit-and-run victim found on the highway about half a mile from where I work. This was a fresh body with identification, and may have been struck by a car that was involved in a robbery last night - the car was abandoned about a half a mile down the road, but on the other side of the highway.

A few years ago I had my own dead body story. It was around this time of year, maybe a little closer to Halloween, and I was coming back from a weekend visit to my friends' place in the Poconos. I was approaching the exit for Nanticoke off of Interstate 81 when I saw glass scattered all over the right shoulder of the highway. A little farther along there was a car pulled over to the side of the road. A person was out of the car and looking at something on the side of the road. Something about the person's posture told me that they were looking in horror. And what was on the side of the road...?

At first glance I thought it was a squirrel. A big, big, blonde squirrel. But as I got closer I decided it was a dog - a Golden Retriever, maybe? But I was moving at 55 miles per hour and didn't really feel like rubbernecking. It's dead. Get over it. Move on.

I exited I-81 South onto Route 29 North headed for Exit 3, the Nanticoke exit. I was about a mile down the road, about 5 miles from my home, when every police car and ambulance in the world began to converge on my position.

As they blew past me at ludicrous speed, I had a feeling that something was up. About a mile further along I saw where they were heading.

On the grass alongside the offramp for Exit 1 there was a sports car - a Z28 - parked askew. There were several police cars and ambulances already surrounding the car, and more were arriving by the minute. I kept going. It was late, and I had work the next day.

Now, I am realizing that this was eight years ago, and my memory may be a little fuzzy, but I believe these are the facts as they were later reported in the paper:

- The driver of the Z28 was intoxicated and traveling at a high rate of speed.

- There was a "highway pedestrian" walking along I-81 near the Nanticoke exit. He, too, was intoxicated.
- The paths of the vehicle and the pedestrian intersected.
- The pedestrian traveled through the front windshield of the Z28 and impaled himself on the gear shift.
- The driver of the Z28, suddenly sober, now found himself unable to downshift due to the presence of a dead (or nearly dead) body on his gearshift. So it took him almost two miles to come to a stop.

The object I saw on the side of the road, the object that somebody was looking at in horror, was a leg. When the highway pedestrian's body impaled itself on the car's gearshift, bits of it continued to travel out through the back windshield. It landed on the side of the highway, and I drove right past it, thinking it was a random bit of roadkill.

So there you go. Don't drink and drive. Don't walk on the highway. OK?

1 comment:

Betz said...