Kevin sent out an email a few days ago about the death of two Gendors, Gendors being a coed ultimate team originating from Southern California. We've played the team several times over the last two years, sometimes winning, most recently losing (I call extenuating circumstances surrounding a combination of both our lack of ability to adapt to their style of play and their cheating a little bit (yeah, yeah, yeah, always an excuse, but this time, I think it's somewhat valid when you have players double teaming the marker, then claiming that Kris has a reach of greater than 10 feet, which I assure you is not true)), and I played with several of the players 9+ years ago when I was learning to play in Los Angeles.
Good lord, have I really been here that long? Ugh.
According to the first article Kevin sent out, the players died while trying to avoid hitting a coyote driving home from Regionals in Scottsdale, Arizona. The driver and the front seat passenger were both killed, the two passengers in the back survived with scratches. All four passengers were wearing seatbelts.
Over the next few days, more details were told about the accident. The driver swerved to miss coyote, sending the car broadside into the guardrail, causing the vehicle to roll.
The driver swerved to miss a coyote.
As I read the words, I paused. Kris and I had hit a coyote several weeks ago, and as I read the words, I couldn't help but think if Kris had reacted differently, would we have died?
Our plan after spending part of the week with Kris' family, his parents, his sister and his sister's family, was to head to Phoenix to fly to Albuquerque, New Mexico for Kyle Smith's wedding. Our flight out from Phoenix was around 9:00, so we needed to be at the airport around 8. I recalled Mom saying Flagstaff was about three hours from Phoenix, so we figured leaving by five would be plenty of time for the drive down.
Problem was, we were at the Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon is another 80 miles north of Flagstaff.
So, instead of 146 miles in three hours, we had 226 miles to go in three hours.
We left by 4:45 AM, but didn't realize the extra 80 miles until we were leaving the park and saw the signs. We immediately began trying to figure out if we could make the flight, or if we should just start driving to Albuquerque. We could make the wedding if we started driving immediately, the flight was questionable. I pulled out the map, told Kris which way to go, and off we went, in an attempt to make the flight.
Unfortunately, I told Kris wrong. The map was misleading, and the road I asked him to drive along wasn't a multi-lane freeway-like road, but a forest-lined two-lane highway, He drove as fast as he dared along the road.
At one point, a coyote jumped out in front of the car.
Kris slammed on the brakes when he first saw the coyote, but was unable to stop in time. The car struck the coyote. We killed it. We believe it died instantly, based on the lack of movement looking back, but that may have just been wishful thinking, we don't know.
My reaction was much different. I screamed and brought my hands to my face, covering, perhaps to ward off the impact, much the way a mother throws an arm out to stop the passenger from flinging forward. I started crying. I cried for the coyote. I cried in frustration of the events of the previous week. I cried for the rabbit I struck driving 15 years ago. I cried and cried, and Kris couldn't do anything but drive, reach out to touch me and watch.
Ten minutes later, a migraine started and I began to lose my sight.
I told Kris what was happening, crawled into the back of the car and fell asleep.
Three hours later, I woke up 10 miles away from the Phoenix International Airport. Kris managed to get us to the airport in record time. He may have been driving over 100, I don't know, I was asleep, but it was a fantastic drive made while I was sleeping.
We made the flight, and made it to the wedding (which was awesome with the lightning and thunder punctuating the ceremony).
The image of the coyote, its final moments of life, are still remarkably, tragically fresh in my mind. The loss of two ultimate players reminded me of that moment. I believe the loss of their lives, two young men in their early twenties, is far more tragic than the loss of the coyote.
Would the driver had swerved if he knew the outcome? If Kris had swerved, would that have been our fate?