First, I was asked to go out and take photos of a golf tournament fundraiser to benefit Special Olympics. It was a nice day, good to get out of the office, and I looked forward to it.
Before I could leave the office for the golf tournament, the Sheriff's office called to say that there was a bad accident with a fatality, and since I was the only photographer, could I go get photos, then go to the golf thing.
I arrived at the scene about 15 minutes after the accident happened. There were police of all kinds all over the place, huge trucks, and it was almost impossible to find the vehicles involved. Armed with camera and notepad, I set out and aimed for the middle of it all.
I was stopped and a spokesperson was called, and he told me that two cement trucks, each heading in a different direction, clipped each other as they passed each other. The one going north veered left, went off the access road and across the northbound lanes of the freeway, and stopped in the median. The one going south also veered left and hit a pickup truck following the northbound cement truck - head on.
What I didn't expect to see was a white sheet in the cab of what was left of the pickup. That white sheet covered the body of the driver. The shape of what that sheet covered didn't resemble a person at all.
I crossed the crime scene tape to get the shots of the cement truck across the highway, and that was when I was escorted back to my truck.
Off I went to the golf tournament, hiked in the heat to the first tee, got a few shots and went back to the office. I loaded the photos onto the server and went back to my desk before I went through them. Damn, I did take those photos.
I think going to the golf tournament right afterward gave me the time I needed to let my emotions perk awhile. I had to drive and frame up other shots and think about doing my job. Driving home, I had to pass the scene again, and that's when I realized that the experience hit me. It punched the breath out of me.
I didn't see this one coming at all.
April 22 update:
As I figured I would, I woke up angry as hell about this. Sloppiness, stupidity, whatever it was, cost a man his life. It's not the first time truck drivers have taken lives in this state. There is an influx of tanker trucks involved with all the natural gas drilling going on around here that not only destroys miles and miles of countryside, but even more miles of road. The drivers barrel on through everything, and cross the yellow lines at will at ridiculous speeds. They took the lives of two small children a few months ago.
So now two cement truck drivers follow suit. Whatever the facts reveal will determine who was responsible for vehicular manslaughter.
I doubt it will mean much to that man's family. He was 31.