The night started out great as "silently screaming" and I went out with several friends to Angel's Roadhouse for a few drinks. There we ran into the Boxkutters, a cover band that allows you to jam with them. S.S. wasted no time and after finishing his first beer he grabbed a guitar and performed a punk version of Johnny Cash's "Folsom Prison Blues" which was a delight to much of the crowd. After I finished my first pitcher I stepped up to the mic and sang Radiohead's "Creep." Two shots later and halfway through my second pitcher I returned to the mic and belted out Led Zeppelin's "Rock & Roll" and "Stairway to Heaven."
"Silently screaming" left shortly after I finished my set because he was feeling ill. At about fifteen minutes 'till closing, my friend Marcy runs into the bar screaming for people to call 9-11. Predictably the crowd rushed outside only to see a big trail of dust comming down the hill from the road above. When the dust cleared we could see a mangled black pick up truck. My friend Troy and I approached the vehicle looking inside to see if there were any survivors. We were puzzled by the fact that no one appeared to be in the vehicle.
"He's over there!!!" shouted one of the patrons. We all rushed over to Charlie's truck where the driver appeared to have landed against the rear fender. Upon further inspection it became obvious that the driver's head was smashed between the tire and the wheel well. I looked under the truck and noticed bits of brain and skull fragments and spoke up.
"Pieces of his brain and skull are on the ground... he's dead."
"Don't say that!!!" snapped a girl.
Right about then my friend Lindsey's managerial skills kicked in and she dispersed most of the crowd. Charlie, an aquaintance of mine, was not happy with my assessment and felt for a pulse.
"He has a heartbeat..." he said. "But it is weak."
Someone else suggested removing the driver from the wheel well and I stopped them.
"Don't touch him. The fact that his head is wedged in there is probably all that is keeping him from hemmoraging. If he has a chance at survival, which I seriously doubt it, it will lessen if you move him."
Other people agreed and we waited for the authorities. Other people didn't and scrambled to get out of there before the police arrived. And still others stayed, talking, telling jokes, flirting, and generally acting like nothing horrible had just happened. It made me sick.
I watched as the paramedics covered the deceased with a yellow bag and then grabbed my friend Brian as I returned to my car. While starting my car I noticed Charlie walking away by himself. I got out of the car and ran up to him.
"Do you need a ride?" I asked.
"No, I am just going to walk home."
"Well, I just wanted to make sure. I'm worried about you, are you going to be alright?"
"Yeah, I just need some time alone so I am going to walk."
"Alright, I just wanted you to know that despite our differences that you can count on me if you need anything and I am really glad that for the most part people were willing to help." (Charlie and I are known for getting into shouting matches over politics: he is militantly conservative.)
"Yeah, well this is something I hope everyone can set aside their differences for."
I waved goodbye to him and took my friend Brian home. I haven't been back since.
Update: After a little googling I found a couple news clippings about the event.
Excerpted from Daily Bulletin.com:
YUCAIPA - A driver was killed Thursday morning when his vehicle slid off Oak Glen Road and crashed in the Angel's Roadhouse parking lot.Excerpted from The Press Enterprise:
Michael Joseph Boatman, 20, of Yucaipa, was thrown from his Chevy Blazer into a parked Toyota truck.
He was pronounced dead at the scene.
San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies said the man had been driving south on Oak Glen Road near 14th Street when he drove off the road and his vehicle landed in the parking lot at 1:15 a.m.
Deputies suspect the man might have been speeding, although an official cause of the crash had not been determined.
Man dies after he's thrown from SUV
A 20-year-old Yucaipa man was killed early Thursday when he was thrown from his vehicle and hit a parked truck, officials said.
Michael Joseph Boatman was pronounced dead near Oak Glen Road and 14th Street, the San Bernardino County coroner's office said.
His Chevrolet Blazer was southbound on Oak Glen Road when it left the roadway and overturned in a restaurant parking lot, a sheriff's new release stated. Boatman, the only person in the vehicle, was ejected and landed on a parked car, the release stated.
Sheriff's officials, who responded at 1:15 a.m., said they believe excessive speed was a factor.
One thing that Charlie stressed before I left was that he hoped that this wasn't someone he knew. I hope Mr. Boatman wasn't an aquaintance.