A half dozen volunteer firemen happened to be in the winery’s tasting room. A moment ago they were customers. Now they raced outside to assist. A quiet morning at a hillside winery had turned into chaos.
“Oh my god, oh my god!” Onlookers heard as they rushed to the windows. Screams came …from the parking lot. “Oh my god, look at all the blood!”
“We need an ambulance! Tell them to hurry!” the man’s voice shouted.
“There’s a girl pinned under the van!” another man called out.
“Oh my god, I’ve never seen such a thing,” a woman whispered. “That car hit her and she flew right up in the air!”
The winery patrons moved like a wave to the windows and door. Among them was Michele, in a near panic. She had just said goodbye to her daughter and husband. They had left to go get the little girl something to eat from the car.
“We’ll have a little picnic on the side of our van,” he has said. “It’s nice out. Maybe we’ll open the van doors and watch a DVD.”
Then a moment later, a crash. And then the shouting.
“How many people were hit?” somebody asked.
Michele could not make her way through the crowd. Everyone else seemed to be moving in slow motion… All the customers had bunched up around the two small windows and the doorway, to see what was happening outside. They jammed the hallway to the front door. She could not get past.
She tried to peer out one of the small windows into the parking lot. She strained, on tiptoe, looking over shoulders and between bobbing heads. No one knew who had been hit by the car. She began to get nervous.
“Okay, I’ll go feed Savvy her lunch. You come out when you’re finished. We’ll have a little picnic on the side of our van…”
“I can’t tell how many were hit. A few.”
“My god, that girl is pinned under that van,”
That caught Michele’s attention. The rest of the onlookers had rushed to the door and packed the hallway. Michele tried to push past them, desperately trying to find her family and make sure they were safe. Over the crowd noise, she could hear the summations of those who had seen it happen.
“That girl is going to die,” a hushed voice said in disbelief. “That car just hit her and knocked her right up into the air.”
“The car just plowed right into them! It didn’t even slow down!”
The hallway to the exit was packed. People trying to help were mobbed by people trying to see. All of them tried to get through the door at the same time, so nobody could. Michele was frantic.
“I don’t know how you could survive that.”
“My god, the blood…”
Michele’s heart was pounding. Her head began to buzz. Surely they couldn’t be talking about her daughter. They had just gone to the car – the rental van – to get her some lunch. A picnic. By the side of the van. As Michele pushed her way down the hallway, she caught a glimpse of the scene.
A worker’s truck had somehow wrecked into cars parked in the lot. Her car. The rental van. It was all smashed up.
“We need some towels for them! Get me some towels!”
She could not see her husband or daughter anywhere. Inside, too many people blocked her view. Outside, too many helpers crowded out what could be seen of the victims. She craned her neck to catch a glimpse of anything. There were tire marks showing the path the truck took, right into her rental van. Panic rose up in her throat. She fought her way past the window and through the crowd towards the door.
Where is my baby? Where’s Dan?
The next window gave fewer answers. The volunteers had gathered around the victims. They had rolled one victim over, but there were too many people in the way to see who it was. The others worked to get the girl out from under the van. Her van.
Then Michele saw some of the blood splattered clothing. She saw blood on the dress of the victim pinned under the van. She gasped. It was the same color as her daughter’s dress.
Now she began to panic. She had to get down the hallway. She had to get outside. Onlookers blocked her way. She wedged and pushed them , with tears in her eyes, until she almost reached the door. In desperation, she whispered a prayer and reached for the doorknob.
“Please God, don’t let this be happening to my family.”
Please spare my baby and my husband.