Sunday, July 22, 2007

Please be careful out there

And wear your seat belt. All it takes is the wrong instant of lapsed control and your life can change forever. This will be in tomorrow's paper:
A horrific interstate wreck killed two members of a Lizella family Saturday evening and injured the other four.

The entire family was ejected from their Chevrolet Suburban when it flipped on Interstate 75 just south of Ashburn in Turner County, according to the Georgia State Patrol. None of them were wearing seat belts, according to the patrol.

A baby boy was in his car seat, but the seat wasn't buckled into the car because his father had the child on his lap to attend to him, senior trooper David Grantham said.

When emergency personnel arrived at the scene, family members were in the road and the baby, still in his car seat, was crying, Grantham said.

Vickie Fortson, 38, was killed instantly, Grantham said. Her 4-year-old daughter, Tamara, was dead when she arrived at Tift Regional Medical Center.

The father, Lamar Fortson, had surgery and is recovering today at Tift Regional, according to nursing supervisor Carol Thurber. The baby, Victor, and 9-year-old Ariel Fortson, were taken to another hospital. Erin Fortson, 7, was treated in the emergency room and is OK, Thurber said. She is with family members at Tift Regional, Thurber said.

"Big, supportive family," Thurber said.

It appears the Suburban ran into the median just past a lane-shift in an interstate construction zone, Grantham said. Victoria, who was driving, over-corrected and the vehicle flipped, he said. It was about 5:45 p.m. on a clear evening, the road was dry and alcohol is not thought to be a factor, he said. Grantham said there was a little bit of luggage in the vehicle, but he wasn't sure where the family was traveling from.

"Just one of them things. ..." Grantham said. "The children's what really affects you."

Bentley and Sons Funeral Home has charge of the arrangements.

These stories are hard to write. I don't have to do it often because I focus on politics these days. But every now and then I pull a Sunday shift, which is mostly calling police departments and trolling for terrible things that happened.

Being a cops reporter, and writing these things every day, is tough. I did it for about a year and a half at a paper in North Carolina. I knew it was time to get out when I was talking to a woman whose son had been gunned down in the street, and I realized that I didn't care. I had become numb to it.

I rationalized this with an old proverb: "You can't weep for everyone when you live next to the graveyard."

But the truth was I felt less human.

The Telegraph's cops reporters and photographers get called to some pretty grisly scenes, and it happens pretty often. They get called vultures and other mean things because they're trying to get the story.

I assure you, they're not doing it out of some sick, personal curiosity. They're doing it because those same people who call them names will read that story first in the morning paper. Stories about crime and death are almost always our most read stories online.

I've known reporters who filed a story, then broke into fits of sobbing over some of what they wrote. And you do feel like a vulture sometimes, and you want to ignore things.

But you don't, and then at night you feel a little hollow.

I decided a long time ago that writing about other people should make you feel terrible quite often. And that anything less than the truth, no matter how terrible, is an insult to life.

If you pray, please pray for the Fortson family.

1 comment:

kent said...

Thanks for the needed message. I was the first on the scene as I was driving south on I-75 heading to Fla. The car created a dust cloud when it swerved, and then tumbled some 8-10 times landing in the ditch. I ran across heading toward the car expecting to help survivors in the car. I was dumbstruck as I saw the parents spread out in the ditch with the baby between them(who was not in a car seat!). I turned as saw a young girl staggering toward me, and then saw two other young girls resting on the road shoulder. I was simply stunned as to how all six could have been tossed from the now upright car, and could only determine that they were not wearing their seat belts. The mother was not killed instantly, as she moved briefly while the baby cried. The 4-year old girl suffered so much head trauma that I was going to put a yellow skirt next to her head as she struggled to breath with blood nearly choking her, but decided to not move her at all. It was so painful, and could have been prevented by simply wearing the belts. My prayers have followed each day.