Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Harrowing Halloween

The car's headlights shone on our group of costumed kids as it came way too fast and swung too wide around the curve. From near the house where we had just collected candy, I watched as the driver cut hard to the right, sending the car into a 360 spin, its lights tracing a panoramic arc through the wooded neighborhood. It slowed then and I lost it to view as I ran clumsily toward the kids, lugging a heavy Bitty Bantam. I had vaguely seen a shadowed form go over the guard rail and into the ditch.

One of our kids had been hit. Our kids, I thought. It didn't matter if the child was not my own. This whole group was comprised of kids from our theater program--kids I had teased and praised and ordered around, kids whose hair and faces I had touched as if they were my own children.

"Lord, have mercy," I prayed, as I ran. Mercy on this child. Mercy on me. Mercy on us all.

I knew where Chicklet was, ahead of me on the driveway, but my other four kids were all out there with their friends somewhere in the dark.

"Lord, have mercy," I breathed again. Liturgy gives you prayers to pray when you have none of your own.

As I neared the little group, I saw that the fallen child was one of Bantam11's friends. He was gasping for breath and crying, his leg bent awkwardly underneath him. But his eyes were open, he was sitting up, and in a second he was able to talk. He unfolded his leg--it didn't seem broken.

One of the other parents called 911 on his cell phone. Another dialed the boy's parents. A mom ran up to report that she had tried to stop the car, but it drove around her and fled. She had the license number.

I asked the boy if he wanted to try to stand and he nodded. We helped him up. He seemed all right.

The ambulance, fire engine, police and sheriff's cars arrived. The ambulance took the boy to the ER, while the sheriff took statements from all the adults and from the other kids that had nearly been hit. Then someone told me that Bantam11 had been walking next to the boy who'd been hit, and he had felt the car graze his pant legs.

I found him, shivering in the cold. He had ignored my advice to wear warm clothing under his "emo punk guy" costume--black shirt and ball cap, pink tie, bandana around his wrist. I wrapped my arms around his narrow shoulders and held him tight, the cold an excuse to hold him a little longer, a little tighter than usual. "It's okay, Mom," he finally said. "I'm fine."

They caught the guy before Bantam11 and I had finished talking to the sheriff. One of the kids had correctly guessed who the driver was--an 18 year old kid who lived in the neighborhood, who'd been arrested before, for robbery. He was drunk. (It was only 6 p.m. when it happened.)

No one complained about their near-empty bags of candy as we headed back to the hosting family's home. It was cold, late and everyone felt in shock. The kids all cheered when we told them the guy had already been arrested, and they rejoiced again when the boy who'd been hit rejoined the party. He said he felt fine. Incredibly, he hadn't a scratch on his body.

The car had come inches from hitting a whole group of our kids.

If you say, "The LORD is my refuge,"
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
"Because they love me," says the LORD, "I will rescue them;
I will protect them, for they acknowledge my name.
(from Psalm 91)


Anonymous said...

Praise God that everyone is okay! Jeannie, your post brought tears to my eyes. What a horrifying experience. That driver needs our prayers.


RANDI said...

Very scary! I am so glad that all is well! Praise be to God...

Islandsparrow said...

I am so thankful that no one was hurt - what a terrifying experience. Praying that the Lord will give you, and all involved, His peace.

Jennifer said...

Oh, what a horrible experience! I am so glad no one was hurt, and that the driver was caught. Makes me want to go hug my boy too. Praying for your peace today,


Mike the Geek said...

Good grief! The closest I ever came to that was some years ago when I was taking Beloved-but-Expensive-Daughter and a friend trick or treating in the neighborhood and some (strikeout)two-bit scum-sucking penitentiary-bound verminous punk(/strikeout) young lad came careening down our residential street at what must have easily been 65+ mph. He never came close to actually hitting anyone, however. Seeing one of the kids in your charge actually get hit must have been your worst nightmare come true - I can only imagine what that must have been like! God bless, and may He keep the children safe and undaunted by the experience. (It sounds like they have a pretty healthy attitude.)

Wendy WaterBirde said...

Wow. It is so horrible that that happened, and yet also so wonderful to have been able to witness such a miracle of him being okay. God is good!

Sheri said...

Oh my goodness, thank God for keeping them safe!!!

tonia said...

Thank You Lord for Your grace.

(((hugs))) to mamahen...what a night.

Pete & Mary said...

I read this just after you posted it, but havn't known what to say ... so horrible. I actually had a nightmare about it (except I was the driver, icy roads the cluprit and your 18 year old driver - on a bicycle - the one who was hit.) I am so thankful all the kids were OK, and so glad that everyone is praying for the kid. I am hoping for opportunities to show him this Love present themselves.

Julie said...

What a harrowing experience! I'm sure it was quite sobering for the kids as well as the parents. I'm so glad you're all okay. It reminds me how easily this life can be taken and to cherish every moment. The 3rd anniversary of my mom's death was a few days ago and a Chris Rice song we played at the funeral has been running through my head: ". . . Teach us to count the days. Teach us to make the days count. Lead us in better ways. Somehow our souls forgot. Life means so much. . . ."