Today, I saw my third flipped-over car this week. The third one. Today’s was on I-295 San Jose boulevard, but let me start at the beginning.
Last Monday, driving to rehearsal, I hit a traffic jam just coming across I-95. After creeping along for a mile and a half or so, I came up on the accident site. An SUV was flipped completely upside down in the median of the road. It was a fairly nice evening, no obvious reason as to why this vehicle would be on it’s roof between the lanes, but there it was. Still, one upside down car on Jacksonville’s freeways is not all that unusual.
But then Saturday, we were pulling into World Market on South Beach Parkway, and he heard the extended honk of a car horn. I had no sooner said to Andie “no crunch”, when we heard the crunch. Somehow, a small Toyota wound up on it’s side out of the traffic lane, and the driver was mostly unconscious. I mostly stayed back out of the way. There was a crowd of people around the little car, and at some point you know the only thing you are is in the way. So I went back across the street, and about that time the first police car showed up, then the ambulance and the fire trucks.
Then tonight, again driving to Orange Park for rehearsal, another car on its side in the median. Three in a week. At least this one didn’t have traffic backed up for more than a mile. Maybe a quarter mile, tops.
Maybe three overturned cars in a week on Jacksonville’s roads is not so unusual. I suppose if I looked, I’d find plenty of instances where there had been three flipped vehicles or more in a week. But I don’t see them. Before last Monday, I can’t tell you when was the last time I saw a car not on it’s wheels. In the last seven days, I’ve seen three. I think that’s enough.
This update from yesterday’s post … the St. Johns River Water Management District today voted 5-4 to approve Seminole County’s permit to withdraw up to 5.5 million gallons of water every day from the river over the objections of some 300 people who packed the districts offices in Palatka. Admittedly, that’s a small fraction of the river’s flow, but, as St. Johns County Commission Chair Cyndi Stevenson said “This 5.5-million-gallon withdrawal is the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent.” The commission vowed that they would review all subsequent permit requests very carefully, but once one is approved, it would seem to be difficult to deny others.
Most disappointing, though, was that Seminole County won’t need the water for 6 years … plenty of time to finish the study into the possible effects of the withdrawal on the river’s ecosystem. It’s one of those decisions who’s consequences can’t be seen, and one hopes that somewhere along the line someone doesn’t slap their forehead and say “D’Oh!”
And then there was the tragedy this weekend on the Intercoastal Waterway. 14 people crammed into a 22 foot boat … coming home from the Conch House in St. Augustine … slammed into a stationary 25 foot tugboat just north of the Palm Valley bridge. No one is quite sure what the factors were, but I do know this. The boat was way overloaded. There is no way the person acting as captain … and it’s an open question as to how much boat handling experience that person had … could not have been distracted. The waterway is narrow there, so there’s not a lot of room to maneuver. Five people are dead. If there was ever an example of why licenses should be required for operating a boat, this is it. Driving a boat is different from driving a car. Imagine you’re driving a station wagon (that’s what they used to call a “crossover” vehicle) from the middle seat and you turned the car using the back wheels. And it didn’t track around a turn … is skidded. Pretty much every time. With that, you get an idea of what it’s like to drive a boat. I’ve been doing it since I was about 6 … so for me it’s very much second nature. But I don’t even TAKE a beer on the boat, much less drink them underway. The water can be very unforgiving, and it only takes a split second to go from fun afternoon to terrible tragedy. If they decided tomorrow to require a licence to operate a boat, I’d be first in line.
Hmmm … this post is kind of a downer. Sorry about that. The good news is, there’s tomorrow. It’s JCCI day. And I get to pick up my tax return. At least I’m getting a little refund this year.