What Constitutes An Accident?

What Constitutes An Accident?

As long as we walk the earth, accidents will happen.

They happen all around us every single day and some hit home more than others. Just this week, most of us have been affected by the news of a two year old killed by an alligator at Disney World. My family had stayed at that resort one night and watched a movie near that beach; we have our own lovely two year old. It seemed to be a terrible accident to me, but there are those that attest it wasn’t an accident. Evidently alligators roam Florida and the parents should have known and taken precautions, but they didn’t know and didn’t take precautions. Their penalty quite harsh, their bright eyed toddler now a memory. An accident.

I heard today about a local family who lost their lovely teenage daughter in an ATV accident yesterday and they awoke this morning, left to plan a funeral on a lovely summer day. Another accident. Their daughter,  the 11th child to die in an ATV accident since June 1, 2016, just a little over two weeks ago. All accidents.

Just this week, a teenager was bitten by a shark, about a mile from where we spend the summer. Each and every day my children and I venture into the ocean where we surf and swim, boogie board, catch minnows, and float amongst the waves. Also this week, a daughter the same age as my own daughter was paddling a raft in Florida and she too, was bitten by a shark. She is recovering and so a crisis was averted, her life in tact. In the last ten years, there has been an average of one person killed by a shark each year in our country. An accident.

My children wear life jackets when on a boat and they wear helmets when riding bikes. Did you know that children killed on bicycles has declined 90% since 1975? Though children are less likely to roam now, the number of accidents was nearly half that and so, helmet laws have saved lives. My children wear seat belts every time they ride in a car. I still put them in a car every day and we know their chance of dying in a motor vehicle crash is still one of the highest causes of death for children. Interestingly enough, children’s deaths in car accidents have also greatly decreased since 1975, nearly 60%. Seat belts have been credited with saving lives and the majority of those children that are fatally injured in car accidents are not restrained properly. All accidents.

Remember, I’m the one that left my eight year old son at a restaurant on the highway and I’m the one that explained to the police officer I hadn’t made sure he was in the car. I hadn’t seen him chase my car either and I know that his near demise, an accident, would have fallen on my shoulders. I share this terrible story so that another parent will count heads like I do now. Every single time. An accident.

I think an accident of being a terrible tragedy. Terrible for the families, parents, grandparents, siblings, all those affected and left behind. My brother died of cancer and yet I don’t think of it as an accident. Instead, he was struck by a lone bolt of lightning and our family left with a terrible tragedy. If he had been killed in a car accident, by a shark, on a bike, walking along the road, we would have been left wondering what could we have done differently. Sometimes the answers seem glaring and sometimes they are rooted in a family’s culture or traditions. Accidents.

An accident. If we walk away from death only to mourn, claim it as an accident, then perhaps we are missing a chance to make the world a bit better, a bit safer. Can we agree to stop and think and re-evaluate our decisions? I am thankful for the 10-year-old boy in my carpool that reminds everyone to “buckle up”, each and every week. He never forgets to mention his Aunt Sallie who was killed in a car accident on the way home from medical school; he knows her by name only though, her death preceded his birth. A terrible accident and yet, he reminds us to put on our seat belts. I think in his life time, he is bound to save one friend from harm with his diligence, his own choice from suffering in the aftermath. Not an accident.

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