There are times, as we make our way through life, when we cannot escape the truth of our mortality. Yesterday, was one of those times. Out for an afternoon barbeque with friends, we were having a delightful time admiring the beautiful mountain scenery, the colors of the leaves, the crisp fall air, and the afterglow of a football victory. It seemed to be the perfect afternoon.
Unbeknownst to us, at 6:40 pm--just as we were getting up to say our goodbyes and return home--a train came to a sudden stop on the tracks crossing the only entrance or exit into our host's somewhat remote canyon subdivision. My wife, Julee, and I arrived at the tracks about 6:50 pm. There we found the stopped train blocking our exit. The train was a long one, stretching off beyond what I could see in both directions. The air was amazingly quiet...all I could hear was the sound of the late summer flow in the Spanish Fork River.
As I brought the car to a stop a few feet from the train, we saw someone on the other side of the train bending down and looking at something underneath. Then something else caught my eye...it appeared to be a mannequin wearing a red blouse. I climbed out of the car and walked a few feet closer to the tracks. That was when I realized the full horror and tragedy of the scene before us. What I had thought was perhaps a mannequin, was instead a young woman, her left leg severed just above the knee, her eyes open and staring at me...but with no hope of ever seeing the beauty of the mountains around us again. A second body lay lifeless, face down, a few yards farther east under the train.
The next few hours passed slowly. Friends, neighbors,...and family flooded to the scene. These were local youth from a small, close community. The wailing of both sirens and voices filled the evening air. We did not know the victims. We were not part of the family or even close neighbors. But the pain we felt for them was real and left us wondering what if...what if we had left the party 15 minutes earlier? Could we have warned the three youths to get away from the tracks? Could we have convinced them that it is always better to stay far away from danger...not to stand as close to it as you can?
I don't know the answers to these questions, and the fact remains that we did not leave the party in time to warn them. But I hope and pray that our wonderful young people...the ones on whom we place our hopes for the future...will remember and learn. Remember that it is not only their life, but future generations that depend upon them. Learn that the rush and exhilaration of the moment is not worth the life of pain and sorrow it may bring to those who love them.