Monday, April 28, 2008

Living so close to the edge

Ever since I was a child, I have realized to some extent that life is short and we never know what tomorrow brings. It could be wondefully joyous or it could be tragic. I think growing up with health problems makes a person all that much more aware of how precious a good day is and helps you to never take your life for granted. It's really a blessing, I feel, to be able to think that way.

Being a journalist also drives that point home. Unfortunately,it is most often under very unfortunate circumstances that you come to that realization. My co-workers and I joke that I have the dead person beat because of the large number of obits, visitations and funerals I have had to write about. I have learned to take it in stride and to admire the human spirit through these stories. The visitations and funerals are never easy to cover and the hardest one has was to cover the death of a Mukwonago High School student who died in a car accident this past winter with two of his friends. Now, I have had to write an even more difficult story. On Friday, there was a horrible car accident in Oconomowoc that we first learned about as we heard over the scanner the emergency vehicles being called. Then they called for two Flight For Life helicopters that were eventually canceled because of the high winds and lightning. Children were in the car accident and one had gone into cardiac arrest.

We weren't able to get much informtation in the afternoon and only had photos of the demolished car. Later in the night I worked hard to pull the details together. The Oconomowoc Police Department was taking a while to get the press release together and we needed the information to run with the photos. A rumor started to spread that the person who died on the scene was an associate prinicipal at Oconomowoc High School. Needing to confirm that, I looked up the superintendent's home phone, called and left a message. I was so happy when she called me back. Her news though was not good. She confirmed that an associate high school principal, Jennifer Bukosky, was killed and her two daughters were in the car with her along with a third child. The two children that were taken to Children's Hospital were in critical condition. Adding to the tragedy was that Bukosky was pregnant. And then over the weekend, her daughter died at Children's.

The cause of the accident is unknown at this time other than that the driver of an SUV hit the small car belonging to Bonkosky from behind as it sat at a signal that had just turned green. The little car was destroyed beyond recognition. Speed is suspected, but the fact that the driver was taken into police custody leads one to believe that there might be more involved.

This story is so extremely tragic. I know that the Oconomowoc School District already started to come together as early as Friday night by meeting and notifying staff, administrators and the school board. Today, extra staff is on hand at the high school.

Fortunately for me, I will not have to cover this story further as it is in the Oconowoc Enterprise's area. If I had to follow up and write more stories about it, I know that it would be the hardest one that I would have had to do thus far.

It's interesting, though, how a tragedy like this makes you drive differently and think differently for a few days afterwards. I am that much more aware of my own driving and others and how close we are all living to the edge.

There is always some good that comes out of situations like this horrible tragedy. People will drive more carefully, friends will hug each other who have not done so for a long time and family will say I love you more often. The positive affects are short-lived and do not in the least equal what was lost, but through it all, the human spirit survives and demonstrates good.



No comments: