It’s a 30-second video taken on a woman’s cellphone from a balcony overlooking the route of a holiday parade, and had it been just that it would have likely been viewed only by the woman’s children as she had intended.
Instead, her short video of Sunday’s parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, went viral because of the unexpected horror it captured as a red SUV mowed down marchers and onlookers, killing six and injuring 47 more, many of them children.
Toward the end, after the screams drown out a marching band’s drum cadence, the video captures something else – people running toward the fallen, encircling them and offering them aid, in spite of not knowing whether the danger had passed.
In those 30 seconds, we witnessed the worst and the best of humanity.
Closer to home, a crash Saturday night at Montgomery and Morris NE killed one and seriously injured several others. Nineteen-year-old Casino Salazar of Roswell is accused of being intoxicated, speeding and swerving in his mother’s SUV containing four passengers, booze, pot and guns, and zooming through a red light while slamming into a vehicle driven by Kevin Barton, who died at the scene.
“It was horrific, like a war,” said Rachel Davis, who messaged me shortly after returning from the crash scene behind her home. “So many kids pulled from the car with broken body parts.”
Barton, she said, was already dead, lying in the street near his vehicle. Two of his dogs were also wounded; a third ran off.
Once again, video of the carnage exists, taken by Davis.
But once again, along with the horror on the video are the helpers, including Davis, who raced to the scene to see how she could help.
“Thank God for so many community members to come out,” she said, adding that some tended to the wounded until paramedics arrived, while others put out engine fires or rounded up the two dogs to take to an emergency veterinarian clinic.
Days later, Davis has continued to help, befriending Barton’s wife, urging friends on social media to keep an eye out for Otis, the third dog missing in the crash, and to donate to a GoFundMe to help defray the costs of vet bills for the other dogs.
In addition, she is talking to anybody who will listen about the danger of that stretch of Montgomery, which she said has been the sight of several crashes, most often involving excessive speed and alcohol and the quirky way she believes the lanes don’t quite align at that deadly intersection.
“More lives will be lost if nothing is done,” she said.
Davis is part of the best of humanity, one of the helpers who do what they can for others. In those moments of selflessness, the biases, politicals or beliefs that divide us melt away. We’re all in this together, we say, our kindness a bridge across the chasms between us.
Because of this column, I’ve been blessed to write about many folks who exemplify the best of humanity. Allow me to remind you of just a few I’m thankful for this year:
Allie Sikorski and the volunteers at Pawsitive Life Rescue of New Mexico, who rescue, care and foster strays and find them homes.
Kristine Koziar, Starbucks manager, who assisted a man who suffered a stroke and stayed with him until paramedics arrived, making sure to lock up his RV until family could pick it up.
Connie Monahan, Gail Starr and the members of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, who provide a range of services from triage to testimony for rape and domestic violence survivors.
Christina Hartsock, Donald Griggs, Eliza Linde, Mark Candelaria and Deanna Araiza, who rescued an old, blind dog named Ada abandoned on a bike trail in the East Mountains. Ed Goodman of Tootsie’s Vision, a nonprofit helping blind dogs, who found a forever home for Ada. And Melissa and Ryan Benefield, who gave Ada that home.
Marci Dickerson and the volunteers of Revolution 120, a Las Cruces-based nonprofit that delivers fresh produce, dairy and meat to people in need and helps farmers and ranchers fulfill their need to sell their goods.
The folks in the medical, science and health fields who have continued the brave fight against COVID-19 and misinformation.
“We are at a place for a reason,” said Davis, the woman at the fatal crash at Montgomery and Morris. “The universe guides us to where we will be most useful. That is my daily meditation and, boy, did the universe send me out that night.”
I also believe our better instincts guide us to do what is good.
On Tuesday morning, the third day after the crash, good people were guided to Otis, the dog missing in the crash, in an alley less than a block from the crash site. He was shivering and skittish and appeared to have a broken front leg.
Melanie Garcia, the wife of the man who died that night, was reunited with her beloved dog moments later.
The universe could not give Garcia back her husband. But it could give her Otis and a plethora of well wishes and prayers from strangers, offers to pay her vet bills and services for her dogs from ACE of Paws veterinary clinic, and a new friendship with Davis.
These are the lights in what otherwise can feel like a darker, angrier world. I am thankful for them and to all of you who share your light and the best of humanity within you.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.
UpFront is a front-page news and opinion column.
Calling all angels
Do you know an unsung helper who exemplifies the best of humanity? Nominate that person for our 12th annual Angels Among Us. Two winners will be featured in a Christmas UpFront column and each will receive a Nambé angel and a $100 Dion’s pizza gift card.