Tragic Rerun

October 13, 2010

The flowers are gone. So are the candles, hand-scrawled notes, and other remembrances that for months crowded the sidewalk beneath a sign advertising passport photos. But the story they told is still with me, replayed every time I pass the intersection of NW Glisan and Broadway in Portland. It’s where a TriMet bus ran down five pedestrians in the crosswalk just before midnight on a Saturday last April, pinning three beneath the bus. Two young women were killed and a young man was badly injured.

Passing through the intersection several times each week, I see the accident and its aftermath play out in my head as if filmed with an old hand-held camera, the images dark and flickering and grainy. The people in these frames had no inkling that tragedy was about to strike. The pedestrians and many others nearby had just left a comedy club. Laughter was in the night air. The bus driver was ending her shift. Soon, emergency workers found themselves comforting victims trapped beneath the 17-ton bus.

This morning as I glanced at the empty sidewalk where the memorial had stood for months, the sun was shining and people streamed by in cars and on bikes, everybody headed somewhere into futures they can’t foresee. I wondered how many, like me, saw a horrific past that is still very much present.