VIC'S VIEW: More than numbers on a screen
Words on a page are chilling, but something we’ve come to expect. The numbers are just figures written side-by-side - we’ve been conditioned just to take them for granted.
South Carolina’s unsafe secondary roads are going to claim lives. Add in the wicked weather we’ve been having lately, and the difficulty in anticipating the moves of “the other guy” and it’s not shocking to us any more. Feb. 7-9, 5 people died on South Carolina roads; Year-to-Date that number is 77 - this time last year it was 111. Whoo-hoo, we are making progress!
When it’s not “just” numbers on a page, it’s the truly tragic fact that some of “The 77” are young people. Their lives have barely gotten going.
Matthew James Holcombe, 21, died in a wreck near his home in Fountain Inn; a Facebook post said he was driving in severe weather. He loved baseball; he was a graduate of Laurens District High School.
A GoFundMe in his honor already has exceeded its goal. The money will buy park benches, and perhaps one day will enhance the baseball fields of Fountain Inn. Matthew worked at Roper Brothers Construction and was attending Greenville Tech.
On Old Laurens Road near Greenwood, twins Kierra L. Cunningham and Tierra L. Cunningham, both 26 years old, died when their Kia Sedan collided with a Ford truck. The driver of the truck was taken to the hospital; two juveniles were in the back of the Kia and were taken to the hospital.
Kierra was a nurse at NHC in Laurens and Tierra was an employee of ZF Transmission in Laurens, says their obituary. Between them, they are survived by 4 children. Their dad lives in Waterloo.
Then, tragically, 2 USC-Union Softball Players are killed in a weekend wreck.
South Carolina Highway Patrol report is concise: The collision happened around 10:12 p.m. on Woodley Road, near SC-295 on February 7, 2020. Troopers said two people passed away as a result of the accident. They say four people were traveling south along SC-295 in a 2012 Ford when the a 2012 Toyota - traveling north - crossed the center line and struck them. All five people involved were injured, four were transported via EMS to Spartanburg Regional hospital. Troopers say one person in the Ford passed away on scene, while another passed away at the hospital.
The Coroner said those who died were 18-year-old Mia Stokes of Charlotte, NC and 20-year-old Grace Revels, of Lancaster -- softball players for the University of South Carolina Union. The Lady Bantams said, "Our campus is saddened to share the news with our community that four of our Lady Bantams were involved in a head on collision Friday evening. The crash left two seriously hurt and two were fatally injured.”
A report said the other 2 occupants in the Ford were also members of the Lady Bantams Softball team: Mallory Stokes of Charlotte, and Devyn Royce of Sumter. USC Union said information concerning a campus memorial for the girls is forthcoming.
Look, I get it, all deaths are tragic. And I will honestly admit to being part of the problem. I have driven drunk. I have driven distracted. I have driven with my eyes closed, singing at the top of my lungs. I have driven over the rumble strips more than once, much to my wife’s dismay. I have argued with people riding with me while I was driving. Once in college, I rode with a guy who decided not to turn on his lights, going from the campus to the frat house. I was in the car one night when my dad ran into a ditch to avoid a head-on collision - this was before seat belts. I eat in the car while I am driving. I have driven sleepy - once with my son and four of his friends in the car, coming back to Newberry from Greenville, I hit a deer in the middle of 385. I never saw it. That was God’s way of saying, “wake up, idiot.”
Yet, I am alive, and these 5 young people are not. This is not survivor’s guilt - I have had close encounters with death and, yet, for some divine purpose, I am still here. And I’m not preaching, really, I’m not. If I were, I would have a word of prayer with the truck driver who passed a stopped school bus and caused a person I know to hit the ditch to avoid the head-on collision. That could have been 3 more deaths, a mom and her kids, right here in Laurens County. I hope that truck driver some day gets his “wake up, idiot” from the Person Upstairs.
There’s really nothing that can be done. We can’t fix the roads. We can’t control the weather. About all we can do, all of us together is, simply, please, slow down.
(Vic MacDonald is editor of The Clinton Chronicle. He drives AB Jacks Road, every day, to and from work; everybody, please, look out for him. MacDonald can be reached at 833-1900 or email@example.com)