Posts Tagged ‘Salt Lake City’

I’m coming Kimberly…

March 31, 2014

ImageI’m on an airplane to Salt Lake City. I can’t post this until I land, but, wanted to write when my feelings and thoughts were still raw and fresh.

I left my home in Vancouver, Washington 30 minutes ago. It’s been a long morning. I woke up to a text message from Jory, my brother-in-law. That was unusual and honestly alarming. In the few minutes it took to wake up, my initial fears were confirmed. In brief and clearly anxious words he wrote:

<em>Kimberly and I were in a really bad car accident this morning. They are taking Kimberly to the SICU, she had a broken leg and a crushed spleen, a liver laceration and a bruised kidney. Can you please try and get a hold of your parents?</em>

You see, my parents are in South Africa picking up my other sister who just finished two-and-a-half years as a volunteer in the Peace Corps. After several attempts, I finally reached them. They had so many questions; the same questions I had. But I had no answers. The only information I had was in the text message above. In my rush to be useful, to do something despite the miles between us, I didn’t even think to find out more before alerting my family. I needed to find out more.

After several phone calls to family members and Salt Lake hospitals, I finally learned that after dropping off their two children (thank goodness), my sister and brother-in-law were driving to work together when suddenly, and without warning, they were T-boned by a large tractor trailer carrying a heavy load of gravel. The truck driver ran a red light and struck their car on the passenger side–my sister’s side. The impact knocked my sister unconscious, and pinned her inside the mangled vehicle. It took 30 minutes for emergency responders to finally get her out of the vehicle. She was taken to the hospital as a “Trauma” patient. She doesn’t remember the collision. My brother-in-law was also taken to the hospital with less-threatening injuries.

I eventually relayed the information to my family in South Africa and have kept them as updated as thousands of miles permits. I know not being here is hard for them. All I can do is communicate and provide information.

Last update I received before boarding the plane was that Kimberly’s injuries were “not life threatening” but that she was still in SICU, for observation and pending a decision on whether to remove her crushed spleen, or to simply “tie it off.” I suppose I’ll know one way or another before too long.

I deal with car crashes every day. I talk daily to victims of car crashes, who suffer physical injuries, and emotional damage in car crashes just like the one that put my sister in the intensive care unit of a hospital. No amount of familiarity or experience can prepare someone for getting “that call.” It’s different when the victim is a close loved one. These things never happen at “convenient” times. To the contrary, they always seem to happen at the worst times–when people are the most vulnerable.

Please, be careful. Please pay attention. Please don’t ignore or take lightly the safety rules that are designed to keep us all safe. Please be vigilant and aware of your surroundings and of other vehicles on the roadway. It only takes a moment of carelessness to forever change the lives of so many people.

Love you sister friend. I’ll see you soon.


Recreate on the Water But Do it Safely!

July 8, 2013


So between vacations and a busy work schedule I dropped the ball on my weekly blog post. I’m sorry. I spent the past week with friends and family in Salt Lake City, Utah and Bear Lake, Idaho. Where we had the opportunity to do something I haven’t done in several years—go boating with my family. It was great to get the old slalom ski out and cut the wake—even if not as aggressively as I was once able (just to be clear, that’s not me in the photo–that’s professional water skier Andy Mapple).

I was amazed at something I didn’t recall in years past. Namely, the other boats, wave runners, and Jet Ski’s that were following closely behind us in order to jump over the wake behind us. I noticed the same thing when my kids were being pulled behind the boat on a large inner tube. I couldn’t help but wonder what could happen if one of us fell into the water and the wave runner or Jet Ski couldn’t see or react in time. As if reading my mind, my father-in-law commented about how many people are ran over ever year in Utah by such carelessness.

This of course happens elsewhere too—not just in Utah. It happens in Washington. In fact, just a few years ago DK Ross was ran over by a motor boater while he kayaker on American Lake. He suffered serious brain damage, multiple broken bones, and an unimaginable skull fracture. His life and the life of his family will never be the same.

Tragedies such as these can be prevented by taking just a few simple precautions and paying extra attention while enjoying recreational water activities. Washington law prevents “operating a vessel in disregard of careful and prudent operation, or in disregard of careful and prudent rates of speed that are no greater than is reasonable and proper under the conditions existing at the point of operation, taking into account the amount and character of traffic, size of the lake or body of water, freedom from obstruction to view ahead, effects of vessel wake, and so as not to unduly or unreasonably endanger life, limb, property or other rights of any person entitled to the use of such waters.”  RCW 79A.60.030. What does this mean?  Don’t drive your boat like a moron.

Washington law also has specific laws targeted at various water activities:

Specific to water skiing, Washington law requires:

  • There be at least two persons on the boat (an “operator” and an “observer”);
  • The water skier wear a personal floatation device;
  • That water skiing take place only between one hour prior to sunrise and one hour after sunset; or
  • No person to conduct himself or herself in a reckless manner that willfully or wantonly endangers, or is likely to endanger, any person or property.

RCW 79A.60.170.

Specific to the operation of “personal watercraft”, Washington law requires:

  • All persons aboard wear a personal floatation device;
  • The operator attach a “lanyard-type engine cutoff switch” to his or her person, clothing, or personal floatation device;
  • That the personal watercraft shall not be operated during “darkness”;
  • Operators be at least 14 years of age;
  • “A person shall not operate a personal watercraft in a reckless manner, including recklessly weaving through congested vessel traffic, recklessly jumping the wake of another vessel unreasonably or unnecessarily close to the vessel or when visibility around the vessel is obstructed, or recklessly swerving at the last possible moment to avoid collision.”

RCW 79A.60.190.

In the end, if we can all follow a few common sense rules and watch out for other people on the lakes and rivers where we recreate, we can all have a more safe and enjoyable summer with many more to enjoy in the future.

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