Saturday, December 12, 2009

James' Accident

The evening of Thanksgiving my cousin James and his childhood friend, Anthony, decided to head in to Zephyrhills to catch a football game. There wasn't a good reception at the camp ground so they went to a local sports bar to finish watching a great game. Around 10pm the boys headed back to the park, along a dark stretch of Highway 301. The two lane highway is notorious for claiming lives. In fact, 5 years ago, almost to the date, a close friend of the family was killed on 301. She was just 18.
According to the five wittnesses:

There was a car in front of James going an estimated 15 miles below the speed limit. It seemed as though James was attempting to pass the car. As he was pulling in front of that car he somehow lost control. His car veered in to the empty oncoming traffic lane flipped approximately three times, hit multiple cypress trees and then came to rest along the driver side (on it's side).

The next car passed, then stopped when it realized what happened. After that, Anthony passed everything. The road is so dark, he couldn't see what the car looked like. Anthonly called James' cell phone and when James didn't answer he turned back around. When Anthonly arrived a minute later, the passers-by had called 911. They tried to keep Anthony back for fear of the car exploding, but the 6'3" boy ran to James. James was alive. Anthony instructed him to cover his head with his hoodie and then punched out the back window of the car. He sat with James in the back seat, reaching over the front seat to hold his hand. During that time, James was responsive and very much alive. Anthony asked James if he was in pain and James was able to tell him that just his legs and his arm hurt. It took responders about 30 minutes to arrive. In that particular part of the county, most are volunteer departments and I really don't feel that they are as efficient as a metropolitan department. Say what you will, but I know he'd be alive if Tampa Fire Rescue were involved.

When rescue had arrived, Anthony was forced from the car. At that time, he called his parents in a panic. His parents, called my Aunt and Uncle. The accident was just 100 yards from the park entrance. When Linda arrived James held his hand up. She screamed to him and then the crew started cutting.

The car was so badly damaged it took an hour to remove the entire top of the car and then to remove James. His mom sat in horror as she watched. Once James was in the ambulance, she was informed they were going to the nearest trauma unit. Not five minutes later, they stepped back out and said they were taking James to Zephyrhills Hospital and were "doing everything they can." Linda later told me it was at that time she realized he was gone. Zephyrhills had no trauma unit, only an Emergency Room. The ambulance drove off, lights flashing, in to the dark.
James' offical time of death was 11:45, November 26th 2009. He was 21 years, 4 months and 4
days old.

Days later, the coroner called. There was no alchol, drugs or anything else in his body. The offical cause of death was blount force trauma to his chest and abdomen. He bled to death. Every limb was broken and there were hematomas from his neck to his legs. Just one tiny scratch on his beautiful face.

During the week that followed, my dad and Anthony's dad (Danny) went to Orlando to empy out James' room at his shared apartment. His senior year of college would never be finished. My dad and Danny also returned to the scene to retrieve a laptop and papers and pictures scattered in the ditch. There was also small bible with sticks and glass in it that James kept in the center console. After they were at the scene, Dad and Danny had to go to the impound where the car was being kept. Seeing the car, my dad said he knows there was no way anyone in the driver seat could have survived.

1 comment:

Katie said...

I should know all kinds of family titles, but I have to admit, we cheat once it gets confusing.

I am so sorry Nellie! What a horrible sequence of events! Thinking of you guys!