I’m back at The Evening Sun and I’m glad to again rub elbows with so many I have come to respect. I can’t honestly say I’ve always played a large role in my local community and certainly the largest impact I’ve made has been through my work at the newspaper.
Last Friday, I answered a call in Oxford over the horrific motorcycle crash involving the Sherburne-Earlville principal. Although the accident took place in Oxford, the traffic was lining up outside of my South Broad Street apartment. Even on a Friday night, that’s a difficult thing to ignore. I got my gear together, camera, pen, paper, and traveled over West Hill into the region of the county that usually only the local people can navigate successfully – the back roads.
I remember being fairly concerned when I left because one of the dispatchers incorrectly called county Rt. 4, Turner Street, instead of Georgetown Road. Not a big deal unless you’re from Oxford and your grandparents live on Turner. On top of that, my parents work over at the Veterans’ Home in Oxford and the second accident called in that day was just down the road at the same time they’d be leaving work at one of the most hazardous intersections in Oxford – where 35 (old 220) and East River Road meet. I’ve seen people come flying down that hill like a meteorite.
After a brief wait with one of the fire police, the New York State Troopers graciously allowed me onto the scene. When I left Norwich, all I really knew was what I collected from the scanner – truck versus motorcycle, traffic backed up to Norwich, helicopter called for.
When I first pulled up to the scene, I remember thinking, “Where is the motorcycle?” It actually took a degree of skill and multiple shots before I was satisfied with a picture that clearly showed the two vehicles apart. If you just took a quick glance at yesterday’s paper, you still might not even notice the bike crammed beneath the truck.
After about 20 photos and 20 questions with the troopers, I was asked to “please leave” by the investigators as they began their accident reconstruction. I parted the first scene and headed to the second, which required that I drive in the opposite direction. (There was a lot of that for a lot of people Friday). So after about 30 more minutes of back road wrangling which is similar to swimming in dust, I arrived in downtown Oxford. I drove nearly eight miles to move about one down the road.
By the time I arrived at the second accident, there was nothing left in the road but shattered glass and skid marks. I spoke with deputies about the traffic and accident before hopping back into my car and heading to the place where they had the cars towed. I figure a picture, even in a junk yard, was still worth the effort. So I drove from the intersection of 35 along East River Road and even after the accident was cleaned up and traffic was inching forward, I passed over three miles of waiting cars according to my odometer.
I had a couple of thoughts pop into my head while spending all that time in the car. One was a vague memory at an Oxford bridge meeting last year where I remember a man being concerned over the Halfway House bridge being closed if there was an accident at River Road and 220 and on 12 at the same time. (No kidding). I remember people telling him that it was “very unlikely.” The second thought was why wasn’t the Halfway House bridge opened up? It was opened officially Monday, but I bet it was good to go Friday afternoon.
My hat is off to the firefighters, fire police and police who tended this tragedy. My heart goes out to the victims and their families.