12.29.2009

slow down... we all need to slow down...

some words about the death of Peter Coe...

I had just arrived in Colorado... I did not yet have housing... I did not yet have a job... and worse than that... I had yet to score a Ski Pass

days were spent looking for work... looking for a place to live... some time spent snowboarding out of bounds at Loveland Pass... and well... there was plenty of playing Tetris on that 16 bit Nintendo system

one day after coming up empty looking for work and looking for housing my buddy Burke and I were on Swan Mountain Road taking the scenic route around the Dillon Dam back to a friend's house at Summit Cove
the snow was coming down steady and we were loving it
SNOW!
Snow was why we had moved to Colorado... seeing the falling snow made our hearts race!

visibility was snowy white and the road surface was rapidly turning from the color of asphalt to a blanket of cottony white
tire tracks from the car in front of us set the path
the rapid accumulation brought excitement of snowboard turns to come
the traction had been fine with Burke's Jeep in two wheel drive up until this point
then the car fishtailed one way and then the other
a little over correction and Burke's Jeep was off the road and in the Ditch

no worries... no blood no foul...

I can not recall the specifics... but I think we were going to get the Jeep out of the ditch before rotating the hubs to set things in Four Wheel Drive... or the hubs were rotated and it was just a matter of tapping the gas to set things right
either way... there was no damage to the car and it seemed like nothing
all that needed to happen was to get out of the warm comfort of the car and push the jeep out of the ditch and then get on with our day

I was on the roadside behind the Jeep giving the vehicle a slow steady push...
a car pulled over on the road side just in front of us to offer aid
the specifics are fuzzy... but I can sort of recall shouting over the side of the Jeep that I thought I had it and that we did not need assistance
then it happened...

without warning I was hit from behind
one second I was behind the Jeep in a standing position with my hands pressed against the rear window
then next I was under the front of the Jeep... underneath the front bumper of the Jeep... in a bit of a daze

where am I... what happened... how did I get here... where is here...
it was all a bit disorienting

I saw the Jeep car door open above me and I saw Burke run to a body in the middle of the road
I heard Burke call my name... I responded back as I tried to pull myself out from under the front of his car

Burke was shocked to see me under the front of his car
he had in fact thought I was the body sprawled in the middle of the road
the tone of his voice was that of relief
relieved that I was not the body laid out in the road and that I was getting to my feet and able to talk

my body felt fine enough... a little banged up... but nothing seemed to be broken
there were hand prints all over the side of Burke's car from where I had tried to hang onto his car as the car had pulled me out from behind the Jeep
the dirt on the side of his car had a long vacant patch of lines where I tried to hold on as I got swept away
the markings were like the claw of Freddy Krugger leaving its mark

I climbed out from under the Jeep and ran to the center of the road
the woman who had come to our aid was unable to move
She had been hit so hard that her boots had both been knocked off her feet
we tried to sooth her and remain calm... we motioned traffic to go around
in short amount of time an ambulance arrived
we were both put on back boards and rushed to Summit County Hospital
I was as anxious of my not having health insurance as I was of my potential injuries
being on a back board with a neck brace is a scary place to be... even if it is just procedure

it confused me as much then as it does now how a car driver could have been so out of control to have swerved off the road onto the shoulder clipping me from behind and then also hitting the next person who was also on the road side

had she not seen the two cars by the side of the road?

sure there was limited visibility... but shouldn't a person's driving style be modified accordingly?
had she simply slowed down... not to assist... but to pass... well... she would have been in enough control to drive past rather than causing greater damage
but instead... she leveled two people on foot with her out of control car an her sloppy driving style

in hindsight it could have been worse
looking back... that "accident" never needed to happen
my back injury and the other woman's injuries which may have included a broken leg and broken arm could have been avoided all together

never an apology
never an admission of guilt
there was the legal matter and my bills including some physical therapy visits were covered
but still... no human contact of admission of failure as a person

another "accident" involving a car
ACCIDENT on the GWADZILLA PAGE
another fatal "accident" involving a close friend of mine and a car


this morning I woke to a random email via FACEBOOK from a friend from college I do not normally have contact with
in that message there was mention that a mutual friend had been hit and killed by a car this weekend past
I responded to the email then went to Google to get the contact of one of his oldest and closest friends to get confirmation... after leaving a cell phone message I went back to Google...
I found this

www.firefighterclosecalls.com

VERMONT FIREFIGHTER KILLED WHILE RENDERING AID
While not a official Line of Duty death at this time, it is not unlike most Firefighters and EMT's to stop and help when they come across a crash-so we wanted to pass this on. Last night a Vermont Volunteer Firefighter was killed while helping at the scene of a car crash. There was heavy fog and the roads were icy when a car slid off the road into a ditch. Shoreham (VT) Volunteer Firefighter Peter Coe, 43, was driving with his family when he drove upon the crash, pulled over and got out of his car to help.
Then, the driver of an oncoming pickup truck, who didn't see FF Coe's car, tried to avoid hitting it, went off the road, hitting and killing FF Coe, and also hit a power line, a tree and the original car. What FF Coe did was what most any Firefighter would have done-no matter what the "duty" status. Our condolences to all affected.

Peter Coe
Peter Coe... so full of life and definitely too young to die

Peter's life ended before he could finish what he started
the course of Peter's life was headed in the direction where he intended it to go
even with a course that may not have been the most easy

Peter Coe got married young in the classic shotgun style... marrying his pregnant girlfriend... doing what he thought was the appropriate course of action... letting his life direction change with the situation that had presented itself

while so many of us were growing up slow... Pete and his wife Val had to grow up fast.

While I was riding my motorcycle cross country, snowboarding in the west, trekking in Nepal, bicycle touring in Europe... whatever... Peter was trying to make life work. Without a college degree Peter was working an assortment of jobs proving that his skills did not need a diploma to show that he was capable of taking on the task.

Peter was a devoted husband, father, and pet owner... Peter loved his animals as much as he loved his family.... and Peter definitely loved his family

Peter did whatever needed to be done to be the husband and father that we all wish to be
I am certain Peter was flawed as all men are flawed but I also know that Peter had a list of strengths that we all wish we had on our resume or in this case... our obituary

I had not seen Peter in a few years. Six or seven years ago, Peter and his family moved up to Vermont in an effort to raise the family in a more simple world. I had let contact slip... there may have been a few random phone call conversations where I marveled at the fact that Peter had a high school age daughter and a pony... or maybe it was a horse. Either way.... Peter was continuing to amaze me as being the father that all men should be. The father that nurtures and guides his children... doing all that he could to offer them all that they need or want... within reason.

But it all ended too early.

Car is best weapon.
So often it seems that the car is the widow maker in this modern age
I know far more people to die as the result of a motor vehicle accident than by gun shot

Slow down...
all we have to do is slow down... but after we know this... it is too late

across the board... we need to slow down
in snowy or icy conditions... people refuse to clear off their windshields for proper visibility
people are unable to figure out how to work the DEFROST!
then... then without the ability to control their car in the snow... THEY GAS IT! THEY GAS IT AND GO!
Then this...

should have... would have... could have... and the words "I am sorry... I am so so sorry..." and the tears
the sorrow and the tears are real
the remorse is as real as remorse can be
but no matter how many tears or how great the remorse... nothing can reverse time
nothing can undo what has been done

it could have all been avoided if this person had just slowed down
so many deaths could be avoided if we all just slowed down

Peter Coe is survived by his wife Val and their two children
It amazes me to think that their daughter is in college and their son in middle school... I can picture Peter tossing his infant son Nick in the air... the look of pleasure of father and son each lost in that moment
and is daughter... my lord... she was just a little girl and now... now she is a young lady
the time has slipped by... I can remember seeing as a little grade schooler... the length of her hair amazed me
that girl has had many haircuts since I last saw her
now this boy and that girl are without their father... and why?

I am at a time in my life where I could have used a pep talk from this old friend
it sound selfish... but that is some of the sadness that we feel
we feel our loss... in this case... my loss of a friend... a friend I should have kept better contact with... a friend that I will never see again... a friend that could have given me some advice in my time of need

I am overwhelmed by the pain that the family is going through
when I cry... I cry for them
I cry that Peter will not see his daughter graduate from college
I cry because Peter will not get to give his son the advice that he will need to survive adolescence and then adulthood
I cry because Peter is not there to be by Val's side in raising these children... to see their victories and to console them in their failures
I cry because this was not supposed to happen

the children have lost this man from their lives
their future will be different than it was meant to be
and why...
well... sometimes life has no reason

it makes me sad

Peter Coe died too young
but at least in the short time he lived... Peter lived a life worth living... a life that exists as an example of how we could all live to be better people
Peter made sacrifices so that those around him could grow and prosper... that is just the kind of person that Peter was

good bye old friend
it saddens me that we will never meet again
strength to your family
peace to all that you touched in this world

I remember writing Peter a letters from my travels
sharing with him my experiences but also sharing with him my respect for the path that his life had taken
Pete's parents can be proud that they raised their son to be a respected member of the community and a friend to all he met
I am sure they are proud... proud of their son and the life and family that he created
I am also sure that they are sad... sad that their son did not get to live out the full course of his life

my heart goes out to Val, Nick, and a college age girl whose name I am now forgetting
be strong... and live your life as Pete Coe would have wanted you to
and when in question... you can ask yourself... what advice would Peter give me... you will know the answers then
it will be up to you whether or not you take that advice

Peter had the longest list of bad jokes... they were old jokes... they were corny jokes
it was a long list of bad old corny jokes that made us all laugh
Peter also had a clarity and wisdom that was simple and plain
I think I need to ask Peter a few questions right now... but will I be strong enough to take his advice?

Rest in Peace Peter Coe
I am sorry that your life was cut short
I am a better person for having known you

GUESTBOOK for Peter J. Coe
www.legacy.com
I have yet to sign this guestbook
information to come about donations to be made for a college fund for Nick

4 comments:

Mark said...

That's fucked up. All of it.
We now call them crashes because accident implies an act of God, when the truth is that most crashes can be prevented by exercising due care. Cyclists have long known this, and call their incidents crashes not accidents.

Anonymous said...

"it could have all been avoided it this person had just slowed down...

Having also head of this accident and searching for information, I came across the following news account:

A 2006 full-size Chevy truck driven by [name redacted] of Addison, was coming the other way, according to police, but did not immediately see Coe's vehicle in his lane until he crested an adjacent hill.

Unable to stop in time because of the ice, police said
[name redacted] went off the road trying to miss the other vehicle, but wound up hitting Coe, who ran away from the road. Police said Vandeweert also hit a utility pole, a large tree and Herrick's car.

(source: http://www.timesargus.com/article/20091229/NEWS02/912290333/1003/NEWS02)

It seems this was a tragic accident and all involved are deeply affected, I am sure.

It does not behoove you to make accusations when it appears you do not know all the facts.

In reality, you do not know how fast or slow this individual was going. You also do not know if he really did "refuse to clear off their windshields" I'm sure the individual involved feels guilty enough.

Long ago, I was involved in a weather related (thankfully minor) accident. I was already driving slow (10-15mph) due to icy roads. I attempted to stop early for the up-coming stop sign. All this was deliberate. Unfortunately, I was unable to stop and continued to slide through the stop into an oncoming vehicle.

Since we are dealing with a full size pick up truck, I supsect that Mr. Coe would have suffered the same fate if he had been hit at 50mph or 15.

It seems to me there were three options. Swerve left and hit any potential on-coming vehicles. Continue in lane and hit Mr. Coe's car and potentially harming his familiy, or swerving right into the ditch. I think he made the right decision. Sadly, Mr. Coe was fatally injured as a result.

Be careful what you alledge.

My sympathies to all involved.

gwadzilla said...

we all need to slow down

slow down and appreciate life

slow down and think

I am not placing blame
in reading what I found online I felt that the placement of the car may have been a contribution to the final results of the accident

we all need to slow down... even when slowing down to help

we need to slow down and think

we need to slow down and appreciate life

"haste makes waste" is a saying that means... "slow down"

thank you for the additional information about the accident

I hope that this post and this additional information will be helpful to those that knew Peter Coe

although I can not make it to the services being held this week
I will most certainly try to connect with Peter's wife the next chance I get

love and luck to all that are hurt by Peter Coe's passing

van den kombs said...

He sounded like a wonderful person whom you had the chance to share parts your life with. I'm sorry to hear about your friend's death. Thanks you for sharing this with us. KC