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A Bus' Wrath

By , Phoenix, AZ
The brilliant white snow blanketed the Rockies surrounding the quaint ski town of Telluride, which awaited the new arrivals. The disfigured sidewalks meandered up and down the streets that had been beaten down from the harsh weather and the clunky ski boots which chipped away at their edges. The mindful wind blew the powdery snow along these trampled sidewalks, across the weathered streets and down to the icy waters of the river that ran along the mountainside.

Like the wind carried the snow to new destinations, an assemblage of skiers were delivered to their snow capped delight. The excited visitors anxiously awaited for the weekend to tell its story with times passage. As morning came the sun arose over the sheer statuesque mountains while the fresh snow glistened in the sunlight’s rays. This magnificent scene welcomed the many skiers to the mountain for the ultimate skiers dream weekend. While preparing for their inevitable journey they frantically secured loose articles of clothing known to all skiers as cumbersome paraphernalia: ear muffs, gloves and goggles. The assembly line of skiers awaited their turn for a ride up the mountain on the repetitious lift. Skiers are scooped up like a bulldozer scoops its load and dumps it at its final destination. They gazed upon the endless ski runs, people gliding down below them like butterflies in flight, fluttering from one side to the other. Their fresh trails in the cotton-like snow were the first of the weekends many visitors. The lifts passengers anticipate the top of the mountain, passing the icicles that hang on for dear
life while melting drip by drip at the hands of the warm sunshine. Like those before, the paired skiers were deposited at the top of their desired run and began their weekend tour of the mountains trails. This memorable process repeated itself for the next 3 days, while each skier accumulated their own memorable story to be retold upon their safe arrival home.
The smiling sun had hidden itself behind the grey gloomy clouds and the atmosphere of the weekend seemed distorted. Snow began to plunge down from the ominous sky as if it intended to harm. The heavy snow descended upon the mountain making it a weekend to remember. This new obstacle caused difficulty for those who had to push away the burdensome snowfall so one could descend the mountain and load the bus for their lengthy journey home.
Vacant and almost lonely, the bus slowly filled herself with vacationers as though she took a breath of life. Each passenger became aquatinted with their seating arrangement and situated their belongings for the ride home. Unbeknownst to her passengers she would embark on a stream of events that would prove to be tragic. Taking off with the intentions of heading home on its customary route, it was discovered that the road was blocked by an avalanche that continuously flooded the highway with snow, cleared twice only to give its final command “road closed.” A new path presented itself and the vacationers settled in for an arduous and longer journey home.
As she slowly pulled out, the fading mass of mountains appeared to shrink before their eyes into the distant misty air while they peered through the fogged windows, some recounted their memories aloud. Meanwhile others sat silently listening to the rhythmic beat of the chained wheels clinking along the now slick white blacktop. As quickly as the bus came to life, some of her occupants, drained of energy, dozed off while others mindlessly watched the selected movie
on her miniature television screens. This new route, a part of her chain of events was about to take a wrong turn literally and a disaster lie ahead no one could have predicted. For those whose eyes were blinded by the televisions’ bright white lights, the catastrophe was just around the corner-one the bus and her driver were unable to negotiate.

Like in a nightmare for those who were sleeping soundly, there was a rude awakening. The movie was no longer captivating he occupant’s attention; it was the IMAX sized windshield that was now telling the disastrous story. Instantaneous chaos could be the only phrase to describe the tragic confusion racing through the minds of each passenger. The theatre-like screen before them played the immediate terror that flew through their bodies like an electrical charge. The scene ahead was of a rural road surrounded by the black bitter night which held an outcome unfathomable. This image was quickly wiped away from the windshield as well as the passenger’s consciousness as she was wrenched off the road and plummeted to her inevitable doom. Their reality could not be comprehended for some ever again, and for those who were left behind it would take hours, days or even weeks to understand the tragic turn of events. She flew through the air, tumbling down the 40 foot embankment thrashing her passengers in directions not meant for the human body. The movie screen was now obliterated due to the smashing windows, glass blowing everywhere and the weak metal structure of the bus crumbling under the immense pressure. The merciless barbwire fence that stood between the desert and road peeled her roof off like a can opener, allowing her now lifeless passengers to be thrown from her protection down on to the hard unforgiving desert surface.

The bus no longer traveled safely on the desolate clear road where only one lonely arrow indicated the fate-filled curve ahead. Instead by peculiar chance she landed properly on her wheels, 50 feet off the road and her shape was no longer that of a bus. The near freezing night’s chill brought a menacing truth to each body lying out on their now cold bed of the red desert dirt floor as though it handed them the reality of the situation. The smell of fear and complete shock lurked in the darkness as they all lay helplessly still. The dead silence of the desert and its new occupants was eerie but occasionally broken by her victim’s unyielding groans from excruciating pain and were a constant reminder of the disastrous situation. Like minutes ticking by on a broken clock, it felt like hours as each hoped they would live to see the light of day. Their rural location seemed to conceal them from the outside world while the darkness of the night enveloped their bodies. The odds of any help reaching them in a timely fashion felt nonexistent and appeared impossible. The mangled tour bus resembled the bodies that lay dotted all around her contorted scrapes of metal. Their pain was compounded with the dropping temperatures and now Mother Nature shed tears upon the scene as though she was crying out to the victims.
The desolate dark road at last was illuminated with bright red flashing lights filling the sinister night sky with a tiny ray of hope. The clock had been sluggishly ticking for 90 minutes awaiting the emergency technician’s much anticipated arrival. She called out, “Bus rollover, multiple victims, send for more help, NOW!” Like a coach yelling out his plays the EMT’s enumerated each victim’s tragic injuries and worse yet, the death toll. Nine fatalities, 17 broken backs, 23 trauma patients and a total count of 52 victims’ bodies broken and many lives shattered. The weekend’s heartbreaking turn of events could never have been predicted. It left families shattered, loved ones lost, and individuals hurt physically and emotionally in such a way that was far more debilitating than the wreck itself. The celebrated memories of a faded skiers dream had now been overshadowed by a simple missed turn in the road forever altering their future, and the lives lost no longer shine here on earth.





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