Tuesday, June 2, 2009


As surreal as it was, this was one of those experiences that rock me. It was like watching the opening of an ER episode, only from the other side, as the accident was happening.

Lets just say, when you hear a helicopter's whopping blades, you look up. When you see a helicopter buzz by your office window, you freeze. When you recognize the chopper as a MEDEVAC, you run outside to see what the hell is going on.

Ernie from sales saw the whole accident. As he describes it, "a cock-rocket went screaming through the intersection at 80 miles an hour. When it came time to make the turn, the bike held course...right into the wall [of the shopping center]. All I heard was a boom and I saw bike parts flying from behind the tree."

By the time I was able to make it away from the desk the chopper landed in a a nearby parking lot, riddled with street lamps and Metro drivers. Apparently the cyclist was an off duty Metro employee. Seeing as how the station is across the street, that makes perfect sense.

EMT's worked on the victim for 30 minutes inside a nearby ambulance before finally transporting him to the MEDEVAC. Although the chopper was just yards from the truck, they cracked CPR on him at least twice en route. Literally, they were still pumping his chest as they were closing the door.

Like a ship, our office building must have tilted briefly as we all leaned against the windows breathlessly watching. The gurney they ferried him over on went flying under the blades' wind. The chopper strained as it navigated the street lamps before finally lifting off to the hospital.

Now, I've been lifted from a hairy drop in the Grand Canyon, but in a much smaller copter. This was painful to watch, obviously because we are all rooting for the guy; but also because for a second, it didn't look like the MEDEVAC was going to lift without taking a street lamp with it. From Ernies office the four guys and I watched crouched behind the desk. Meanwhile, the ladies in the next office over where still suctioned-cupped to the glass. Not reading too much into that....

Here it is an hour later and I have just gotten off the phone with Allen Etter, Battalion Chief for DC Fire, and according to him, the driver died.

Everyone on the floor is still completely unnerved. Here he was just getting off work, heading home I'd imagine. Probably just bought that motorcycle this spring, for the awesome weather we've been having.

And his mom is getting a phone call right now. She is going to need to cancel her plans today and head to the hospital. Not to rush to her son's side to help with his recovery; they are going to need her to identify her son, as best she can after an accident like that. She will be blindsided, just as he was, just as we were.

This just hit the wire:

WASHINGTON (AP) - A man who apparently lost control of his speeding motorcycle has died after crashing into the parking garage of a shopping center in Washington's Friendship Heights neighborhood.
D.C. fire department spokesman Alan Etter says the motorcyclist crashed shortly after 10 a.m. Tuesday behind the Neiman Marcus store. He says the driver apparently veered into the shopping center's parking garage and crashed into a wall.
Etter says the motorcycle was destroyed, and witnesses in the area were horrified. At least one woman was treated with oxygen after seeing the crash. There were no other injuries, and no other vehicles were involved. Authorities have not released the man's name.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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