I heard the screech, and turned my head. Then came the impact and bang. I’d just been going out to buy a cigarro suelto, in lieu of a full packet. As part of my effort to cut down, or maybe even give up the dreaded nicotine. The whole thing was a blur, and lasted no more than a second. But it’s one of those things where you just know something nasty has happened.
I carried on walking and crossed the road to see a man sitting in the gutter, his leg snapped at the shin, and a small piece of the offending cars bumper a few feet further along. At least that’s what I thought it was at first glance. A second, longer look was needed to confirm that it was in fact something else entirely. I rather wish I hadn’t had that second look, but you can’t help yourself, even when you do know what you’re going to get an eyeful of.
She can’t have been more than 5, possibly younger. Little black boots coming up just below here knees. A cute skirt and jacket. Lying face down in the road, surrounded by police and passersby. Lying very, very still. Very, very dead. There was no effort made by anyone to revive her. It was one of those cases where even the briefest of looks tells you all you need to know.
As I lit up the cigarette I had bought I heard the first scream. The mum had arrived on the scene. No one else would scream quite like that. On my way back, she and the father were lying on the wet tarmac with their little girl, obviously distraught beyond words. Their sobs were no longer audible – there was now the cacophony of indignant and constant horn blowing of the motorists who were being delayed drowned it all out. They could all see that a serious accident had just occurred, from the large crowd that had gathered and the flashing lights of a posse of police cars. But they tooted furiously nonetheless.
I often have disagreements with fellow ex-pats here regards crime and general safety. It’s not that I think that Mexico is too dangerous to dare visit, nor do I agree with the tripe that most media outlets produce. But there are dangers, like any country. More dangers than in my own country.
This post follows hot on the heels of the post on road safety I blogged about just days ago. To be honest I cannot say what or who was to blame for this accident. I saw it happen, but it was a second in time that seemed frozen. I can’t make any statement regards speed, alcohol, lack of headlights or anything else. Maybe the girl just stepped out into the road. Although I can say that this isn’t the first fatality I’ve seen on that exact spot of road. Nor even the second. It’s the third or fourth in the last couple of years. I can also say that nothing has been done to make that bit of road safer. I took a photo. Just to accompany the post I knew I would write. From the other side of the road. Just a grainy, indistinct shot of cars, lights and the heads of the crowd. I’ll point my camera at most things, but not at what I’d seen the other side of the road.
It’s the nastiest thing I’ve seen in Mexico. Not just because I actually saw it happen. Not just because I actually saw the body – the victim is usually covered in a sheet within minutes. Not even because I saw and heard the parents. It’s just that it was such a little girl. The sight of those trendy and smart black boots will linger in the memory I suspect.
Tomorrow there will be flowers marking the spot. Someone may even put up a more permanent little shrine at the roadside. That’s quite common. And the drivers of Mexico will continue driving at 60mph or more, drinking before their journeys home, performing dodgy maneuvers, chatting on their cell phones as they race through red lights….