Saturday, March 17, 2007

Accidents do happen

So I am driving up the hill to the spot where I always walk the dog. It's a single track road, pretty wild. And suddenly as I round a corner, there's a cyclist coming at me, really fast. I brake. He brakes. I come out of it better.
I don't hit him. I stop well. I'm driving carefully, cos the road is tricky, and I do it every day. But he is coming downhill towards me and is going fast; he hits his front brake so hard that he goes over his front wheel, smacks onto the road, hits his head with a crack, hits his face, his arms, his legs. He's wearing a helmet, which I think saves his life.
He lies there. I wait, I'm in shock. I call out - are you OK? He moans. I get out of the car. He is lying at the side of the road, his bike in the middle, about ten yards in front of me.
Are you OK? Yes, he says, getting up. His left eye and chin have gravel grazes. His right trouser knee is torn. He is struggling to stand. Sit down, mate, I say. I'm OK, he replies. Then he keels over and hits the road face forwards, eyes going back into his head.
I call an ambulance. I think I am fairly upset at this point. I mean - it's not my fault, it's an accident, and yet it is entirely my fault. If I had set out two minutes later, he'd have reached the wider bit of road. If he'd have been concentrating, he'd not have hit the brakes so hard. If I'd decided to feed the dog before setting out to drive up to out usual walking spot, we'd never have met. He'd be OK.
It's an accident. Accidents do happen.
He comes to, he calls his wife, his daughter answers. I'm feeling terrible. There is a world of people affected by something I'm a part of - but didn't do! The ambulance comes, eventually, but by then he is lucid again, OK, though the second fall gave him matching gravel grazes on the other side of his face. He says it's OK it's not my fault. I leave him with the paramedic.
His name is Dave. He never asks mine, and in classic British style, I never offer it.

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