The kindness of strangers

Published 9:50 pm Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Photos from the scene of a head-on collision on Nansemond Parkway on Monday make the violence of that wreck immediately clear. The aftermath of the accident was twisted metal, shattered glass, one vehicle that had spun off into a deep ditch and a slew of emergency workers hurrying to tend to the victims.

It was an all-too-common scene from area roadways, where too many drivers are in too much of a hurry, trying to do too many other things at the same time they’re cruising along at 60 miles per hour inside 2,000-pound projectiles. The fact that there aren’t even more deaths is a testament to both the safety features in modern vehicles and to the quick, professional response of emergency crews.

Monday’s wreck was different in one regard, however. Angels — or at least their human representatives — were there to lend a hand.

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When her car came to a stop, Rebecca McGlamery’s first thought was for the safety of her children, a 4-year-old daughter and an 18-month-old son. She freed herself from her seat and opened the door to get her daughter out of the vehicle, and then she saw something that would make every parent’s blood grow cold — her daughter’s eyes were fixed open, and she was unresponsive. “I thought she was dead,” she said on Tuesday, recalling her fear as she held her limp daughter in her arms.

Then some folks who had happened by the accident stepped in to help. McGlamery isn’t sure who they were, though she knows they weren’t firefighters or EMTs working in an official capacity. Nonetheless, the help they provided — comforting her and retrieving her son from the vehicle for her, and then holding her daughter until she regained consciousness — was just what McGlamery needed at that moment.

The news is filled with stories of people who are left to face crisis situations alone because others decline to step in and lend a hand. Monday’s small acts on the side of a two-lane blacktop prove there are still some people who understand the desperate need that humans have for the kindness of strangers.