Thursday, May 8, 2014

fate's right hand

photo by E.
Early Tuesday morning, my son was taking his usual walk to work on his usual route. He walked up Walnut Street and, as he made his way towards 30th Street, he gave my wife a call on his cellphone. He didn't have anything special or pressing to talk about. A frequent morning ritual, he was just calling his mom for the sake of calling. They chatted as he walked. As he approached the Walnut Street Bridge, he spotted flashing lights and a gathering crowd of people.

"Hmmm," he said to his mom, "It looks like there's been an accident. They have the street blocked off and I can't get to my building. I'll have to go around the corner and go in through the ground floor entrance."

* * * * * 

Zachary Woods moved from New York to Philadelphia to begin a two-year program in international business at the prestigious Wharton School of Business's Lauder Institute, a graduate branch of the University of Pennsylvania. He had previously worked for the New York City Regional Center, an organization that stimulates economic growth by seeking foreign capital for projects in the United States. Representing the NYCRC, Zachary lived in China, where he helped with water treatment in rural Chinese villages. After settling into his new home on Sunday, his first day of his new course of study began on Monday.

photo by
Early Tuesday morning, Zachary was walking up Walnut Street for his second day of classes. A few minutes before 10 a.m., Guy Andrews was speeding up 30th Street in his 2005 Mercury and ran a red light. A driver in a Toyota Camry broadsided Andrews' vehicle, sending it careening towards the curb. And towards Zachary Woods. In a moment of quick thinking, Zachary jumped up on the base of a nearby traffic light, hoping to avoid being struck by the out-of-control car. But the force of the impact was too strong. The Mercury plowed into the traffic light, sending it over the guard rail of the Walnut Street Bridge. Thirty-eight feet below, a crew of Philadelphia utility workers on a job site looked up to see the traffic signal and Zachary topple over the cement wall and plummet towards them, striking some power lines on the way down. Zachary crashed onto the pavement next to the utility truck, one leg obviously broken. Emergency services were called and Zachary was rushed to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, assessed to be in critical condition.

Penn had scheduled a welcome party for new students. 27 year-old Zachary Woods most likely would have attended that party. Sadly, he passed away from his injuries late Tuesday evening.

When Zachary woke up on Tuesday morning, he had no reason to believe it would be for the last time.

The cause of the accident is under investigation by Philadelphia Police.

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