Slow Down – it’s our families at risk

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Ray Johnson
  • 36th Security Forces Squadron
In 1986, after working a mid shift, I jumped in my 1974 Chevy Monte Carlo and headed home. Shortly after turning into the base housing area, I saw a quick glimpse of a brown patch of hair crossing in front of a vehicle, parked on the side of the road, while heading towards the street. In a split second, I slammed on my breaks and heard a loud bump on the front of my vehicle.
For a moment, I thought it was a dog. Then I heard two death curdling screams. 
One scream came from a mother, flying out of her house and running down her driveway; the other, from her 5-year-old son on his big-wheel stuck underneath my front bumper.
I slammed the vehicle in park, jumped out and met a hysterical mom in front of my car. She reached down and pulled her screaming son from underneath my vehicle.
As we looked him over, he stopped crying and, for a reason only known by God, did not have a scratch on him. However, his big-wheel was bent in half and I had to pry it out from underneath my front bumper with a tire-iron. My speed was estimated at 12-15 mph. If I had been going one or two mph faster, I can assure you the outcome would have been tragic.
We have way too many people speeding through our Andersen housing areas and it needs to stop before someone gets seriously injured or killed. In fact, some base residents have put up their own slow down/speed limit signs in residential areas. The speed limit in base housing is 15 mph for a reason. This is where our families live and our children play. It is for everyone's safety. Please slow down.
It seems to me that everyone is in a hurry, especially when they leave the main gate. I can not even begin to count the number of vehicles that have passed me traveling 60 to 80 mph, swerving in and out of traffic down Highway 1 or on Route 9, and a good majority of them are military or civilians who work on the base.
If you know you have an appointment or are just coming to work, going home, or going downtown for a function, leave early and enjoy a safe ride. Since January '07, there have been fourteen needless traffic related fatalities on this small island. Five of the fourteen fatalities were Driving Under the Influence-related; two of the fatalities were military personnel.
I have been to many traffic fatalities over the years and have heard family and friends crying over their lost loved one lying dead on the road. It's a very distinctive cry that penetrates your body and goes right to your heart and stays with you for a very long time. All fourteen of the fatalities this year could have been prevented. Please slow down.
When people drive above the posted speed limit, they're not only putting themselves in danger, they're jeopardizing the safety of everyone else driving or walking on the road. It's not worth the risk, because our mission, family, and friends are too important.
Almost 21 years later, I still think about and can see that mother's face holding her son in front of my vehicle. Please leave early enough to get to your destination on time and, please slow down.