Monday, December 25, 2006

The Accident Explained

I know that for some of you it may be difficult to read the circumstances under which Jamin left this earth. If this is the case I would suggest that you cease reading this particular blog and go on to read or add onto other happier memories of him on this site. However, there are those of you for whom an explaination of the accident scene may help to bring some understanding and closure to this tragic event.

I will start by stating that Jamin was an excellent driver. He was that way when he began driving and as I understand it he was that way up until the day that he died. While I would buckle my seatbelt while pulling away from the house and adjust the music and seat once the car was in motion, Jamin would always spend the extra minute or two when he got into the car to make sure that all such arrangements were taken care of before he ever put the car in drive. It used to drive me crazy! Furthermore, he would never exceed the speed limit and it was difficult to ever catch him without his hands placed properly at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel. All that being said it was a shock to hear that J.B.'s death occured in a car accident. How in the world could my "perfect driving record" brother have made an error so big? The following is an account as I understand it from eyewitnesses of the accident. I hope that this description will assure you that even in such a horrible event Jamin's last moments on earth were not filled with suffering.

From what we understand, the night of Wednesday December 13th 2006 Jamin enjoyed sorting holiday mail at the base post office with some of his friends until around 8:30pm. Although invited to hang out afterwards, Jamin decided that he should go home and get a full eight hours of sleep . . . something that probably hadn't happened in awhile. As best we know this is exactly what he did.

Thursday, December 14th Jamin arose and prepared to go to a weekly meeting with all of the other officers in his squadron. The meeting was to begin at 7:00am. On the way Jamin was to pick up a new officer that he had volunteered to take under his wing for the first few weeks on base. The drive to Spangdahlem Air Base from his apartment in Speicher is approximately 15 minutes on two lane country roads that are mostly open on both sides with fields, trees are few and far between.

On his way out of his town of Speicher he approached a car in front of him, which later turned out to have been driven by an airman on his way to base as well. As he approached him, the two lane road turned into a passing zone and for whatever reason J.B. opted to pass this car - venturing into the oncoming traffic lane. This section of road is also curved in somewhat of an "S" shape so what J.B. didn't realize when he began passing the car in front of him was that their was another car oncoming around the top of the "S" curve. Keep in mind too that at this early hour in Germany the sky is still dark and the roads unlit. In addition the roads were slightly wet from a dew or light rain the night before.

In order to avoid a head on collision with the oncoming car J.B. sped up to pass the first car and quickly pulled back into his appropriate lane. As these are country roads there really are no shoulders off to the side of the road so his quick maneuver sent him off the right side of the road onto some grass. He quickly adjusted the wheel leaving a tire arch in the grass to attempt to gain control and get back on the roadway. It is believed that at this point he overcorrected the wheel to the left which sent him sliding along the wet road acrossed the oncoming traffic lane, which thankfully was empty at this point, and off onto the grass on the left side. At this point his brakes were engaged as we were able to see where his tires dug into the grass trying to gain traction. However, because of his speed and the conditions outside, he was unable to stop and the right side of his car impacted a cluster of trees. (The right side of the car may seem unlikely since from the tire tracks it appears that he was heading straight towards the trees when he left the roadway but Jamin probably thought quickly enough to turn the wheel to the left thinking that the side of the car furthest away from him to impact the trees would cause the least injury).

Unfortuneately this side of the car impacting the trees is probably what ultimately killed him. Jamin was wearing his seat belt and all air bags in his car deployed. However, because the impact was on the right side of the car and their were no air bags to absorb some of the impact for his body. It is therefore thought that he died of a spinal neck injury when it quickly snapped to the right. There was no evidence of injury anywhere else on his body. The time was 7:02am. Jamin had been in his car for probably no more than 5 minutes since leaving his house as the outskirts of his town of speicher can be seen from the scene of the accident.

The airman whom he had passed witnessed the whole accident occur and was the first on the scene followed by another person on their way to the base. Within seconds they were at J.B.'s side. However, thankfully his death had been instantaneous and although paramedics did arrive there was nothing to be done.

Below are several pictures that were taken when we as a family visited the site the following Monday. I hope that these give you a better understanding of the sceneario that I just outlined.

Each of us has gone through our own "what if" questions in our head thinking of the many small details that if altered may have saved my brother. It seems that there are so many more things in this particular accident that could have gone "right" than could have gone wrong. However, after visiting the scene we as a family have come to the realization that it simply was an "accident" in the truest sense of the word.

As hard as it is for us to understand and accept, it was Jamin's time to leave us. With this perspective we can then be thankful for several things about that morning. Jamin died with hopefully little or no pain or suffering. He died after a joyful night with friends. And, his accident did not cause injury to any others on the road.

God still reigns supreme and He is still good.

Of that I am sure.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with the last two lines. In HIS glory.


Anonymous said...

Up to now, I still get goose bumps when I think about what happened...This reflection and process, because of Jamin's character, always leads me to prayer. To our AWESOME Maker, To God be the Glory.


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