Friday, December 17, 2004

Mass Transit Saves My Life...

...or at least keeps me out of the hospital. The following is an email I sent to the Utah Transit Authority Customer Relations folks:


Quick action on the part of one of your drivers saved me from what would have been a serious accident this morning. I would appreciate your assistance in passing my thanks to the driver if at all possible.

I was returning home from dropping off my daughters and one of their friends at (name omitted) Junior High in south Orem. The time must have been a few minutes after seven a.m. (the kids wanted to go in early to watch the Jazz band rehearse) as I approached the intersection of Main and University Parkway, heading south on Main. Traffic on University was busy - typical for the morning rush. Your driver was first in the left turn lane waiting to turn east on University as I approached the intersection. There were no cars in my lane, the through lane across University, and the light/arrow changed to green when I was about two bus lengths behind your driver. I was probably doing around thirty miles per hour when I drew even with the bus which had just begun rolling across the stop bar into its turn when he tapped his brakes several times and I believe hit his horn. The turn lane on eastbound University had several large vehicles waiting and I saw nothing unusual in a glance that way.

Your driver came to full stop and honked again as I crossed the stop bar, still at speed. I immediately locked up my own brakes and the Mighty '87 Suburban caught enough road oil and gravel to slip into a mild right drift. I still saw no reason for your driver's action. Turning a little bit into the drift, I glanced in my rearview mirror at the cars that had been coming up behind me and saw that they were stopping safely clear. Still sliding I scanned from the right to fix how close I might come to the traffic waiting to turn (looked like it might be close but the skid was now straight enough to put me across in front of the rank) and left to see if the problem was over there.


I came to a full stop with my front bumper online with the hood ornament of the lifted Dodge pickup waiting in the eastbound University turn lane. Immediately, even before my truck had rocked back after the stop, a light-colored Jeep Cherokee-style vehicle flashed past in front of me in the eastbound number one lane of University at something between forty and fifty miles per hour. I was too close to see below the bottom of the Jeep's windows. The driver was a stocky, dark complected guy like me, and about my size. His attention was directly over the steering wheel. He raced through the red light without looking left or right.

I watched him go, then turned back to make eye contact with the two guys in the Dodge. I imagine I had the same slackjaw, pop-eyed expression they did. The passenger appeared to be using a cell phone. I hope he was sending a license plate number in. I waited a second to make sure there wasn't another vehicle (maybe a policeman in pursuit - the Jeep had been moving that fast) coming, then cleared the intersection and continued home.

We have spent the last month preparing our home to host uncles, aunts and cousins from the east coast who are coming to spend the Christmas holidays with us. With remodelling, rearranging, and frantic cleaning we have yet to even put up a tree. Tempers have sometimes grown short. There have been moments when the joy of the season has been lacking.

No more. I have driven the same route to and from Lakeridge for the past two years. This morning I was even wearing bedroom slippers and wasn't nearly as alert as I should have been. Without your driver's attention to safety and quick action I wouldn't be writing this letter. I would likely be in the hospital or worse. Probably worse.

The events I have just described happened between 0705 and 0710, Friday 17 December. Please locate this driver and transmit my heartfelt thanks for keeping our Christmas a time to celebrate with family and friends, and also a time to be thankful for the blessings we receive from good people we don't even know.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. I saw him just today. He was driving a bus.

Y'all have a Merry Christmas, and many, many blessings,

A.R. Jones
Orem, Utah

Update: Corrected the spelling of "Claus".
Update: Edited to omit personal information.

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