Last night, I witnessed the death of two people. They died in one of the most horrific ways that you can die - they burned to death.
I'll try to make this brief - I work in a restaurant (I'm in undergrad, that's why I don't have a planning job). I'm at a table in the front of the restaurant, taking a table's orders. I'm facing the front windows of the restaurant, which face out onto an intersection. As I'm writing down the orders, I hear a loud explosion (if you've ever heard a transformer explode, it sounded exactly like that). I look up and see a car COMPLETELY engulfed in flames. Everyone in the restaurant heard the explosion and crowds around the front windows to see the burning car. A cook from the back runs outside with a fire extinguisher. A police car was already in the area and so within seconds, the cop was out of his car and rushing towards the burning car. The cop beat the cook to the car. Just as the cop was running up to the car in an attempt to rescue the driver, another small explosion occurs and the cop somehow manages to escape being burnt himself. He staggers back and realizes there's nothing he can do. The cook does the same. This is a gasoline fire, and it's simply too dangerous to even get close to the car.
I, along with many other people in the restaurant, watch in horror as a silhouette figure appears amidst the flames. It's the driver. He's waving his arms frantically, trapped inside the raging inferno. He's waving his arms and moving his body but is unable to move. He is completely engulfed in flames, as is the entire vehicle. After about five minutes or so, he quit moving, and I saw his head slump over, and I knew he was dead. The fire department arrived a few minutes later but by that time it was too late, and all that they could was extinguish the fire. There was nothing that could be done.
I've never seen anyone actually die before, and last night I saw someone literally BURN TO DEATH right before my eyes. I saw him burn alive, then perish after being burnt to a crisp.
It was quite disturbing to say the least, and very difficult to get back to my work. Though I was upset for the rest of the night and this morning, by the time I headed back to work earlier tonight, I was in the best mood I've been in in a long time. Why? Because I was SO grateful to be alive. I realized how fleeting life is, and how quickly it can be all over.
Just to give you a little background information that I found out later through news reports and through talking to people who knew the victims - the accident occured when a white pickup truck rammed into the rear of a black sports car (the car that burned) that was sitting at a red light. The white pickup truck was being pursued by police in a high-speed chase. There were two occupants in the car that burned (though I could only see one from my angle). They were two teenagers heading to the prom. A makeshift memorial has been made at the intersection where this took place, and a large, black, charred spot is still visible on the roadway at the spot where the car burned, more than 24 hours after the accident.
Have you ever witnessed a person die, particularly a violent or gruesome death? How did it make you feel? Are you religious or spiritual, and if so, how did that play a role in your reaction to such a death?
Right now I'm OK, like I said, I'm in a great mood just because I'm alive. But damn if this hasn't got me thinking. I want to know what others who've experienced something similar think.