"In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." (Matthew 2:18)
Yesterday, November 28, 2017, was a horrendous day for automobile driving and highway safety in the Boston area! The television news on most of the channels featured not one, not two, but three stories about serious highway accidents! In one instance, a person driving a Dodge pickup truck plowed into a Bob's store in Billerica. The store was full of holiday shoppers, but despite the truck driving probably about forty feet into the store, no shoppers were injured. One person referred to the lack of injuries as a, "Christmas miracle". Another car crash took place on Route 138 in Raynham. A 24-year-old young man was driving recklessly at 80 miles per hour and crashed into two other cars. The worst crash reported, however, took place on Route 109 in the woodsy, upper middle class community of Medfield. As I understand it, the driver of a Jeep drove recklessly at a high rate of speed, the Jeep went airborne and hit two other vehicles, a Chevrolet and a Kia. The Chevrolet's driver was killed. The Kia's driver and the Jeep driver were injured and hospitalized. That section of Route 109, near the Shaw's supermarket and not far from Dover, Walpole, and Westwood, was shut down for quite awhile in the aftermath of the accident. A disturbing fact is that just prior to the Jeep hitting the cars, it nearly hit a Medfield police officer who was standing at the side of the road!
Some of my readers know that my late father, Eugene A. "Gene" Baril, was a career employee of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. I don't mean to minimize his functions at the RMV by calling him an "employee". Older folks will recall that until Governor Bill Weld merged the Registry Police (also called "Registry Inspectors") into the State Police, they were sort of a "highway patrol" law enforcement organization for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. My father, who'd spent several years as a Boston cop, started out giving driving tests in 1956, and retired in 1982 as one of the Supervisors (I frankly don't hesitate to use the term "big shots") at the old 100 Nashua Street RMV headquarters.
Yesterday's accident is being investigated by the State Police Accident Investigation Team. In the 1960s, there was no such entity. In those days, individual RMV Investigators were assigned several cities and towns apiece and they investigated all fatal (and near fatal) car crashes in their respective communities. Dad was the Investigator for Norwood, Dedham, and several other towns in that area from 1963 to 1968. In that position, he was "on call" at all times. I remember one Christmas night when he was called out to a fatal accident investigation on Route 1 in Norwood. Dad had manila file folders for all of the car accidents he investigated. Many contained eight by ten black & white photos of the smashed up cars. I know of at least one which contained very gory photos of an accident victim. (I probably shouldn't have looked at that one!) Yes, I've heard a lot of stories and seen a lot of photos of wrecked cars. Even so, I've only once before seen any such photo that showed severe damage to the level of those cars in the Medfield accident. (That photo from the past was of a full-sized Oldsmobile convertible which hit a bridge abutment on Route 128 in Needham. All it looked like was a pile of junk on the road!) What I'm trying to say here is that even as fatal auto accidents go, that one in Medfield was bad; really bad!
Readers may not agree with me, but I think that if that Medfield accident had taken place twenty-five or more years ago, it would have gotten a lot more attention in the media. I expected to hear it talked about on Boston talk radio this morning, but I heard nothing. Think of it: The driver nearly killed a Medfield police officer! He was responsible for one innocent driver's death and another's serious injuries. Route 109 is a main artery through some of the most upscale communities in suburban Boston. It's the kind of road on which even in 2017 one can enjoy a very pretty and pleasant Sunday afternoon drive. I don't drive Route 109 every day, but I'd say I've driven right past the spot where that accident took place probably fifty times during the past year. It's sobering!
You may be able to tell, since I watched the television news reports, I haven't been able to get that Medfield traffic accident off my mind! My heart goes out to the family of the deceased. I'm guessing that from now on, every Thanksgiving and Christmas season, they'll be constantly thinking of their loved one's death. This isn't a "Merry Christmas" for that family. My father investigated a fatal accident that took place on Route 109 in Westwood back in the 1960s. As I recall, a truck flipped over near the Route 128 interchange close to the Dedham town line. I think the victim burned to death. My father would talk about those kind of things, and often would meet and even interview the families of the deceased. That's part of why my sister and I are sort of "nervous" drivers. We tend to be overly cautious, and we get "tailgated" a lot! It's just that we've seen too many of my Dad's accident photos and heard too many horror stories about what can happen "behind the wheel". I want to express my sincere condolences to the family of the person who was killed in Medfield yesterday. I also sent my thoughts and prayers to the injured driver of the Kia and that person's family.
I know I'm going to sound very "preachy" here, but after all, I am "a preacher". The driving on Massachusetts roads has really gotten "crazy" over the past decade or so. Everybody's in such a hurry! So many people have such a rotten attitude when driving! So many people "tailgate"! So many drivers take foolish chances! "Road Rage" in Massachusetts seems to be at epidemic proportions! If you find yourself behind an older model silver Toyota sedan displaying Massachusetts license place #280 that is going along at the speed limit and this makes you feel frustrated (that's my car!), then just think about what happened in Medfield yesterday. There used to be a highway safety slogan when I was a whole lot younger that stated, "A Little Courtesy Won't Kill You". That's what I'm trying to say here.
The Bible verse I opened with is not one we usually like to read or speak much about during the Advent and Christmas seasons. It speaks of King Herod the Great massacring a bunch of baby boys who were 2-years-old and younger, and the grief and pain that brought. And, I chose that verse because I'm thinking of the grief and pain being experienced by the family and friends of those who have been killed and injured. Listen, if you really want to give a present to others and/or you really want to have a New Year's resolution this year, change your driving habits and slow down!
Yes, it happened on Route 109 on November 28, 2017, it's horrible, but it's important that we remember.