Monday, January 5, 2015

Minute by minute

I did a little math, thanks to a calculator, and came up with the number of seconds in 70 years: 2,208,729,600 seconds.

I took 70 from the old Biblical life expectancy of three score and ten years, and multiplied it out to come up with that big number. Two billion, 208 million and so forth seconds in that many years. 

If you take away the amount of seconds we are asleep, watching television or shoving pizza down our necks, that still leaves an awful lot of seconds when we are engaged in life itself...working, shopping, talking, driving.

We've all seen Driver Ed movies about how many feet the car will travel while you're reaching over to switch the radio station because you just can't stand hearing Waterfalls one more time on the morning commute. 

No one except for Episcopal Bishop Heather Cook, the driver of the car that struck and killed a well-known Baltimore bicyclist named Tom Palermo, knows exactly what was going on in her car when the accident happened the Saturday before last.  It was quarter to three on a glorious sunny afternoon on a wide street with clearly marked bike lanes.  Her car hit him, she took off and returned at a later point, somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes, according to witnesses.

How many agonizing seconds took place in those minutes of her life?

We know from court records that Bishop Cook, the second-highest leader of her church in Maryland, has a drunk-driving probation before judgement on
her record from the Eastern Shore in 2010, when she was arrested for DUI and weed.

And we give second chances after first offenses.

Makeshift memorial at accident scene
City police and prosecutors are being very slow and deliberate in this matter. We don't know what her physical state was when she hit the man, we don't know if or how she was distracted.  We just don't know, and if charges are going to be brought, you can bet the new States Attorney in the city will make sure the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed, because this case has people upset, and justifiably so. We all feel we need to be safe when doing things like riding our bikes, taking a walk or going out for any reason, and if Bishop Cook was at fault in this matter, we want justice to be served.

While the legal mills spin and grind, we can all take a second to think about how seconds we would live over and do things differently if given the chance.  Things like this remind me that it's better to prevent an accident than to deal with the awful consequences of one.

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