Silver Lining to Tragedy at Trail Days

Published May 20, 2013


This photograph of the 5-17-2013 Trail Days' Hikers Parade accident has been on many websites, but I do not know who took the picture. It wasn't me.

Random car wrecks that injure scores of innocent partyers aren't miracles, they're tragedies.

The stuff that makes us ponder why bad things happen to good people.

But when a car drives into a crowd celebrating Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia, strikes up to 60 people ... and no one is dead or suffers life-changing wounds ... that's a miracle in my book.

Sometime around 2:10 PM on Saturday, May 17, 2013, as happy folks water-gunned their way through Damascus, VA, in the popular Hikers Parade, an elderly man in a big (1997) green Cadillac with handicap plates drove into the paraders on the Laurel Street Bridge.

No one thinks the driver had any malice or intent to injure anyone. So far, the only way to honestly describe the cause of the accident is "darned if I know."

That's because we really don't know. Yet, anyway.

The most common guess is that a medical condition temporarily incapacitated the driver.

Yes, we all want to figure out what happened and make it all neat and easy to understand and explain to ourselves and our friends and family. That's how we garner the strength and courage to venture outdoors and stand next to strangers in big crowds.

Life is an adventure. Life can be dangerous. You have to deal with it. And live. Outdoors with strangers.

As of Monday, May 20th, media outlets say only two people remain hospitalized from the accident. I called the Washington County Virginia Emergency Management Agency and the police department in Damascus, but I was unable to verify that report. Nor could I validate the claim that the lady who had been trapped under the vehicle that caused the crash came away with only a broken toe.

The identity of the driver still has not been released, but charges are likely to be filed against him by Washington County Virginia's Commonwealth Attorney Nicole Price.

We commend the Damascus Trail Days planners for being prepared for this sad event. Those who immediately assisted folks in need were a bright silver lining in a very dark cloud.

May the emotional wounds of those who witnessed the event heal quickly and completely.

Click Here for Excellent Reporting by Allie Robinson of Bristol Herald Courier

Click Here for WCYB Interview with Injured Hiker

Tags: Events, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Appalachian Trail Community, News, Festivals, Appalachian Trail Museum, Accidents, US Forest Service, and Appalachian Trail Clubs

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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