Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Hard Road

Getting hit by a car is bad.  Getting hit by your own car is worse.  Getting hit by your own car while driving it is the absolute worst.  Until recently, I wouldn't have thought that was even possible, but a very sad news story recently proved me wrong.  In nearby St. Paul, a high school senior died in the freakiest of freak accidents, somehow running himself over after a tire blew out on his car.  I wish the accident had been captured on video--not to be morbid, but I can't even imagine how something like this could happen...

A week ago yesterday, the 19 year-old Congo native, Medard Prosper, was driving to work.  As he drove across a bridge, his 1998 Maxima suffered a tire blowout.  While he was still traveling somewhere around 50mph, he opened the door to the car and stuck his foot out.  It caught on something and pulled him out of the car, then his back wheels ran him over and killed him.  Was he trying to jump ship like an Italian cruise ship captain?  Was he trying to look at the damaged tire while he was still moving? The world will never know.

I wish I'd had the chance to offer him advice on how to handle a tire blowout, as this is an area where I'm something of an expert.  Never jump out; always go down with ship, and do everything you can to gently guide the vehicle to a safe resting spot by the side of the road:

As if the story weren't sad enough, Medard Prosper had already endured incredible hardship in his short life.  Five years ago, his parents were killed in the civil war in Congo, after which  Prosper and his six siblings started off on a five-hundred mile hike out of Congo to Tanzania.  During that journey, he lost two siblings to a combination of malaria and malnutrition, and another sibling died upon arrival on Tanzania.  More than half of his family was dead, but things took a positive turn, and Prosper got a second chance in America when the U.N. relocated him to Minnesota.

When I heard about Prosper's story, I couldn't help but think that he was the Congolese version of The Simpsons' Frank Grimes, who had to earn everything in life the hard way.  Abandoned by his family before his fifth birthday, Grimes spent his childhood earning money by delivering packages to rich, happy children.  At eighteen, Grimes was severely injured in a freak silo explosion, and when he eventually graduated from college, a bird tried to steal his diploma.  And, like Bedard, Grimey suffered an untimely death at the hands of a freak accident.  He was electrocuted at the tender age of thirty-five.

Like I said, it's a truly sad story.  When you think about all of the possible ways to die, getting hit by your own car while driving to work is certainly among the most surprising and the least likely.  Why does the universe seem to hate perfectly good people for no apparent reason?  If you're not already depressed enough, here's a link to the full story:

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