Hello again, Oppo. I’m sorry there are no great pictures or links in this post to entice you. I’m very sorry I haven’t posted much. It’s busy being employed (in a wonderful job, I might say), husband, and Dad to a 2 year old. I do check in to read frequently. I just don’t get to post. This won’t be short. So, TL;DR, my brother was hit and killed by a drunk driver.
I’m writing this because this is the only venue I have open to me right now, and I’ve reached my limit, so to speak. It is car-related. My brother was hit and killed by a drunk driver on Saturday night while he was commuting home from work. He got me in to Z cars (the early 69 to 78 S30’s). He’s why I restored, own, and race my own ‘78 280Z. He got me in to cycling. He is (was? I’m not ready for this...) an all around wonderful brother, son, husband, father, brother-in-law, son-in-law, nephew, friend, and more.
I had stayed up until 12:30 AM to prep my car for a track day event, and left at about 5 AM (yes, that’s normal sleep quantity for me). There’s a large no-coverage area on the way to the track. I was well in to my set-up routine for getting my spot in the pits ready so I could concentrate on driving. I usually check my phone between finishing set-up and the first track outing, post a picture, check-in to FB or text my wife to say thanks for the day at the track. I was working on mounting my GoPro camera to share some video here when a friend found me and said the event director (another good friend) had received an urgent call from my wife. There was an emergency and I needed to call her immediately.
If you haven’t had this experience, let me give you some warning: that message is only ever some flavor of awful. My combat-veteran father told me there are only a few moments in your life that are truly life-or-death and you’ll know them when you get there. I am saddened by how often I re-discover how right he was about that. My first fear was something had happened to my wife and son. This actually makes me feel selfish now; it wasn’t either of them. She gave me the news that my brother was gone. My sister-in-law had been trying to call me while I was out of coverage. I had wisely walked out to the deserted part of the paddock to call my wife. Childishly, I kicked the shit out of a trash barrel. It was one of those plastic things, no real damage. Don’t you wish everything was made like Rubbermaid? I was glad I did it, but still oddly disappointed in how it didn’t actually help. Then I got to call my parents and give them the news. This is as terrible, and maybe more so, than you think it might be.
I was lucky to have some great friends at the track. I took some time to calm down and compose myself before making the drive home, during which I got a massive exhaust leak on the header/mid-pipe junction (pour some gasoline on the fire, why not?).
The saying is, “Don’t do something right if you don’t want to do it again.” I’m a scientist. I’m a very logical, calm, circumspect, rational person, and I have the reputation that goes with that. So, now I have to be The Man for coordinating my family, travel, services, and on and on. I don’t mind that; I’m good at it and I feel lucky to be able to help. My sister-in-law has the real work with their kids, the body handling, working with the investigator and medical examiner, the endless phone calls, and so on. They need some time to adjust to their new reality, and that process is not helped by extra media attention and people.
Unfortunately, and probably rightly so, media attention will be high on this. He happened to be a cyclist, and he was hit by a drunk who was caught and arrested at the scene with a good number of witnesses. Before all the sub-human trolls jump on: He always had all the lights and gear. Hell, a good portion over the years came by Christmas and birthday presents from us. He was always set for night commutes. He always wore a (new, in-spec) helmet. He lived “all the gear, all the time”. He was stopped at a traffic light (green for him) waiting for oncoming traffic to clear so he could turn left to go home to his wife and kids. He has (had? fuck, this is hard to adjust to...) done this for over 20 years without major issue. The drunk hit him from behind on the neighborhood street, going at a very high speed. His bike was found 50 to 75 feet away from his body, according to first responders. The report of how he suffered “massive heavy trauma”, to “his head, neck, torso, and extremities”, and the description of the blood on the street from one of the witnesses still makes me ill. They performed CPR on the scene, transported him to the trauma center, and worked on him for at least a half hour before they were sure he was gone. From the speed, and the from-behind hit, I doubt he ever heard or felt anything, though that hardly helps now. The suspect was arrested on the scene, ID’d by witnesses, and compelled to give a blood sample after declining a breath test (really, dude?). Charges include vehicular homicide.
To spare my sister-in-law, their kids, and my (immediate and extended) family, I volunteered to be point-of-contact for media. Understandably, the family’s not ready to do interviews, post anything, release information, or even make a post on Facebook. It’s only been a couple of days. There is an active and high profile investigation. I’ve handled the less-than-savvy relatives and their comments and needs to talk and vent. I’ve prowled the news sites comments sections to report the vile postings. I’ve reviewed the arrest and jail bookings to find the (alleged?) perpetrator and charges. And then I do it all again. And again. And again.
I’ve had my share of literally shitty jobs. I’ve mucked out stables. I’ve raked sewage sludge from dried cess pools. I’ve been the bag pick-up guy on garbage trucks. I have cleaned grease traps in a restaurant and parts washers in repair shops. I telemarketed home insecticide applications (yes, really). I have never felt more in need of a shower, and I can’t do a single thing about it. I can’t talk to any of my family or friends about this, because they’re not ready or equipped to deal with it and it’s my job to protect them from this filth in the first place. I can’t post anything on my own social networks or tell family or friends or colleagues as they might post something, and nothing can be released until it’s okay with the most immediate survivors. They deserve that much, at least. Outside of Oppo, all my accounts directly use my real name or are easily identifiable. I do that deliberately, as anonymity on the ‘net has proven itself to be overwhelmingly bad and I generally want no part of that. If I choose to say something, I like to own it by name. Oppo is the only exception, oddly. I just never went full name here.
So, I am using this opportunity to dump this here. I’m sorry. It really is my last resort. It is impossible, for me at least, to eat this much shit and remain calm and well behaved. Thanks for listening. It’ll get me some more time, anyway. I’m not convinced, even remotely, there’s anything good to be taken from this. If you can find some moral in this to make use of, more power to you.
Update: The drunk driver who killed my brother has been charged with vehicular homicide. That’s a Class A felony in that state, which has a maximum sentence of life. Apparently the numerous witnesses were very cooperative and helpful, allowing the investigator to build a great case with the prosecutors.