We were coming out of the restaurant in the town where my family, Mike Leming, and the three Leming girls had taken my mother for her birthday celebration. We heard a series of loud crashes just up the street. All ten of us were on the sidewalk, with our view of the conflagration obscured by the two SUVs parked at the curb. Before any of us could move, we saw a metal waste bin and a metal bench flying through the air (both of them had been bolted to the concrete), and a pickup come to a halt in front of the bank across the street. The driver, a middle-aged man, sat slumped in the driver’s seat, rocking back and forth, either drunk as hell or having a seizure. Or so we thought.
Turns out he had swerved onto the sidewalk on the other side of the street, about 50 yards away, and on his route, had taken out two trees, part of a low brick wall, a post, and the aforementioned metallic objects.
As luck would have it, a cop was passing him going in the opposite direction as it happened, and was able to come help at once. Mike, who is an EMT, went over to help too. The guy was in shock, and his doors were locked. The cop called an ambulance. Finally the driver came around, and unlocked the doors. Mike opened the door and did whatever EMTs do, but he didn’t dare move the driver. When the ambulance finally arrived, Mike left and returned to us. As he turned to cross the street toward us, blood began dripping out of the cab of the truck.
“He shot himself,” Mike said. “The inside of the truck is covered with blood. The gun is on the floor.”
What happened was this. The man told Mike and the police officer that he had been out shooting his weapon, and was headed home. The gun was sitting on the seat next to him. It slid off the seat and discharged, shooting him in the lower left leg. He began to black out, and lost control of his vehicle. The man expressed to them terror that he had hit somebody (he had not, thank God).
As we stood there talking with Mike about it, Nora turned green, started to tremble, and began to black out. Julie caught her at the last second. When we got her to the car, she quickly recovered. She told us that looking at the man’s blood pooling on the street caused her to feel faint.
Gun safety is important, folks. Also, to be on the safe side, don’t leave the house, ever. It’ll be better that way.
I took the photo above from the car window as we were leaving the scene. It was much more destructive than the image above indicates. On the far right of the frame is where he swerved onto the sidewalk. You can see the corner of the brick wall he took out. He continued for 40 or so more yards. Say a prayer for him. His Christmas is not going to be very much fun.
UPDATE: Sitting here thinking about this freak turn of events, I find it chilling to be reminded how fragile our lives are, how at any moment everything could change. Nobody expects a driver to shoot himself in the leg and take out half a city block with his car on Christmas Eve in a peaceful small town. But it happened.