I am learning that over time memories that once consumed your mind become filed in the back somewhere and are mostly forgotten. Last week a story broke here that opened up one of those files and all the information and emotions that come with it.
It was a full moon (or close to it) on August 24, 1994. Full moon rising over the ocean is beautiful. I don’t have a photo of my own but I found this online. I pretty much grew up on the coast of Maine. While I love it here in Kentucky, I miss Maine at times.
My best friend Steph and I had spent the day looking at apartments for me. I had found this one that was perfect. I paid the deposit and went back to her house. An old friend of hers, Kevin, stopped by and we began to head out to the rocks. The rocks was a spot on the rugged Maine coastline that was not beach, about 15 minutes from town. There are huge rocks to climb and explore or just sit and watch the ocean. Steph’s boyfriend Todd was with us, as was a friend Billy. I asked Kevin to swing by my boyfriends place because I wanted to let him know my plans. Joe decided he wanted to go too and since there was no room, I told Steph I was going to ride out with him and his friends and I would meet them out there. Kevin said he was going to swing by a friends house and they’d be there after that. We headed out and sat on the rocks for a bit and watched the moonrise. Steph and them never showed, we figured they just decided to do something else. Joes friends weren’t really into it and we were in their vehicle so we headed back home. The next morning I was woken up by banging on my door. It was Steph’s sister. Crying, frantic. She had been trying to reach me. Last she knew I was with Steph.
There had been an accident. A bad one. She told me but I don’t think I heard everything she said. That moment was all kind of a blur. She was headed to the hospital that morning and wanted to know if I wanted to go. I said no and she left. I know at some point I just left and ran all the way to Stephs house. It was a few miles away. But I ran the whole way. I rode with her family to the hospital. I remember sitting in the ICU. I remember seeing Steph. I remember her parents. I remember the doctors and nurses.
Last week a story was all over FB and the news. The moment I saw the story that day all came back.
I hadn’t thought about my friends in a long while. I’ve been thinking about them all this week.
Stephs father was a firefighter. You hear stories about first responders showing up to find the victims are their family. It’s not much different when it’s another firefighters family. That’s one thing I remember from the stories I was told. When they saw her they knew who she was. Many of them have known each other all their lives.
Prior to that night Steph hadn’t spoken to Kevin in over a year. They too had known each other their whole life as Kevin’s cousin lived next door to Steph. But one night Kevin was speeding and Steph told him to slow down, he didn’t. She finally got him to stop and let her out and she walked home, a few mile walk. He had apologized several times and that night had agreed to hang out with him.
Kevin had a souped up 1979 Mustang. He was speeding that night on his way out to the rocks and we don’t think he hit the brakes. He not only hit a tree, the car went up it and rested on it. I was told Kevin was alive when the medics arrived but died as they were trying to get him from the car. Billy was in the front passenger seat and died on impact. Steph and her boyfriend were in the backseat. Steph was thrown from the car. Her head broke the back window and she was flung head first into a tree. Her boyfriend was flung threw the broken window and landed in the road, with just a few scratches. I don’t know how my presence in the backseat would have changed that outcome and I don’t like to think about it.
The reports of the accident in the news last week claim there were witnesses that said the young woman in the back seat was screaming for help. All I could think of is how Steph was probably screaming as well. I know she begged for him to stop.
Steph was in the hospital for a long time. She had a fractured skull, broken back and memory loss. When asked she kept talking about a brick wall. They told her she hit a tree, bu she kept saying something about a wall. When I got to the hospital I was able to clarify that for them. The apartment I had rented that day had beautiful brick walls on the interior. She couldn’t remember anything after that. Her recovery was literally a miracle.
The boyfriend said he didn’t remember much, but he did make a statement that they had drank some beer and a backpack of unopened beer cans were found at the scene. Wherever Kevin stopped that night, that’s where he picked up the beer. I don’t think they ever found out who furnished the it. Kevin was going 104 when he hit the tree and investigators said he never hit the brakes. They suspect he was racing someone but there are no witnesses and no one had come forth.
The victims of the crash last week were the same ages as my friends were. The driver of the crash in Indiana survived. From what I read he has an infant son. He will likely spend his sons entire childhood in jail. I think it’s unfair that he survived and his passengers didn’t, but he will have to live with that decision. As will his family and his passengers families. Just like Kevin’s family and Billy’s family. And of course the long term injuries and trauma Steph and Todd may suffer. All because of a split second decision to test fate.