What do you do if you’ve accidentally killed someone?

I actually had to face this situation, once in my life, and I learned something about myself because of it.

Traveling down a back road, one night, and rounding a curve, I saw a man suddenly lean out toward the road, thumb extended. Then, thump! Like I had hit a melon or pumpkin. My truck had big, west coast mirrors, and I could see the one on the passenger’s side had been turned quite a bit by the impact.

No one around, no one saw. I could keep going. But, I didn’t. I found a place to turn around and returned to the scene.

No one there. I dismounted and started looking along the bank which fell away from the road. The only thing I found was the guy’s hat!

In a moment, I heard some thrashing around in the bushes, and a man staggered out, holding one hand with the other.

“Can you help me, mister?” he said, sobbing. “Some son of a bitch just hit me and I think my hand is broken!”

“Well, I’m the son of bitch who hit you, and that’s why I came back. Here, get in the truck and I’ll take you to the hospital.” He climbed in, moaning. I drove off to the ER.

He was admitted promptly; I was advised to stay in the waiting area, which I was going to do, anyway. I suppose it was protocol, but obviously the police were summoned, because 4 State Police Troopers marched in, walked right by me, and went into the treatment area.

One finally emerged. “Are you the man who brought in the guy?”

“Yeah,” I said, nervously. “I hit him, but I swear it was unavoidable, an accident.”

“Not to worry,” the trooper said. “You did the right thing, you brought him in. And you also saved us a lot of trouble. He had just escaped from jail, a few hours before. You can go, sir.”

And so, I did, thinking about those few moments when I was tempted to just keep driving.

Glad I didn’t. We don’t know, really, what we will do until the time comes.


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