Sunday, January 8, 2017


It was a beautiful sunny afternoon as I quietly walked along the roadway in front of our playing field. Suddenly in the distance, I noticed the wheel of a vehicle lying on it side, with only that top rear wheel visible from my vantage point. Assuming that a wreck had recently occurred, I ran to the beach area where the vehicle had toppled over after missing the uphill turn. Somebody might need help!
I was relieved to discover that no one was around (not only because there were no victims to be found, but also because I was so out of breath after running!), and that the wreck had probably occurred long before I saw it. The air bags had deployed, but there was no sign of blood. However, the minivan, which appeared to be relatively new and in decent shape, was severely damaged.
The driver had failed to negotiate the bend in the road near our beach, where the road starts up the long hill. Drifting too far to the left, the vehicle hit a concrete drainage box where rainwater collects from along the curb coming down the hill. Not only were the wheels, CV joints, and various suspension parts damaged in this violent scrape against the concrete drain and curbing, but the oil pan also appeared to have been damaged. Fortunately, I assume the internal engine damage was minimal since I doubt the engine ran very long after the vehicle came to rest on its side.
Unlike America, where law enforcement officers would be quick to arrive on the scene, and a tow truck would be dispatched right away to remove virtually all traces of the wreck, in Dominica things are done differently. Eventually I heard that this wreck had occurred late the previous night, and that thankfully no one had been seriously injured. However, the vehicle was left where it rested for future retrieval.
The sad remains of the metal carcass certainly got a lot of attention all day from most other vehicles passing by, as well as from my students and other villagers. I'm hoping it served as an important lesson about the potential dangers inherent in driving (especially for my male students, all of whom anxiously look forward to the day that they might be able to drive). Crashing a vehicle down here, where few people are rich or even well off, probably means a major blow to one's budget.

Maybe it would make a greater impression on American drivers if our wrecks were not so quickly and professionally cleaned up, and perhaps left purposely along the road to serve as a reminder to not drink and drive, or text and drive, or speed, or whatever. With the way some careless Americans can't stay off their smart phones while behind the steering wheel, I'm glad that self-driving cars are being developed for them. For myself, I prefer to drive, because I take the responsibility seriously.

Late in the afternoon, a front-end loader/backhoe arrived to salvage the vehicle. Heavy chains were attached to get the vehicle upright and off the hillside. Then it was dragged (since none of the wheels seemed to be working properly) through the dirt and up on the road, where it was loaded onto a tilt-bed truck (actually, it was like a dump truck but with low walls on the bed). Once loaded, the truck with the damaged vehicle drove away, perhaps never to be seen here again. What had been for a day the center of attention had now disappeared from the life of our village.
Needless to say, there were additional damages done to the vehicle during the attempts to extricate it from the hillside and move it to where it could be loaded up. Oh well! That is just how things go in this foreign country sometimes. Hopefully, some folks learned a valuable life lesson from this experience.

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