Saturday, May 21, 2011

On the way home…

by Karen Morales

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 – Life has a funny way of sending you a message just when you least expect it, yet precisely when you need it most. And so the case was for me tonight.

I am an animal lover. From my earliest recollections, I can remember having an almost unnatural affinity for all things furry and four-legged. To this day, there exists in my life no greater constant than this. It is the one thing I never grow weary of, never become bored with, and that never annoys me. In fact, I am well-known for extolling behavior in animals that I wouldn’t come close to tolerating in my fellow human being.

I’m driving home on this lovely May evening, following yet another long day, capped-off with yet another professional function. I have a long commute and often use the time to reflect on my day or contemplate the evening ahead.

It is just beyond dusk and I’m reveling in how very lucky I am to live in a place as beautiful and full of natural wonder and wildlife as Evergreen. As I’m coasting down Evergreen Parkway, I’m drawn to the outline of a local elk, one of my favorite daily sights in our peaceful mountain town. She’s perfect. She’s innocent. She’s a beauty – flawlessly silhouetted against the backdrop of the evening, as she gracefully and effortlessly glides across the road.


A moment too late, I notice that her perfect silhouette is created by an oncoming car that slams into her body full-force, sending her on one last graceful leap in the air, before crashing in a crumpled and helpless pile on the shoulder of the road, desperately kicking at the air, trying to flee her pitiful fate.

An instant later, her unwitting assailant screeches to a stop and I see brake lights in every direction, descending on the chaotic scene.

I scream. I cry. I drive on.

I can’t erase the image from my mind. This one is here to stay. I try to wrap my mind around how such an idyllic moment has morphed into complete carnage within a split second.

A single thought keeps popping into my head… “What if that had been Bela?”

My love of animals and my grief for the beautiful creature that lay writhing in pain on the side of the road tonight as I drive on, suddenly takes on a sickening connection. “What if that beautiful creature had been a child?”

In 2009, it was. It was Kristi’s 5-year-old daughter, Isabela “Bela” Estes. She was perfect. She was innocent. And she was crossing the road. She was hit by a car, driven by someone who didn’t see her.

I silently thank God that Bela did not share the fate of that beautiful elk I saw tonight. Yet, tragically, pedestrian/vehicle accidents remain the second leading cause of unintentional-injury related death among children between the ages of 5 and 14.

No, thank God, our beautiful Bela is still here to remind me – and you – that driving always deserves our full attention. She is our inspiration. I hope she’ll be yours as well.

Please take a moment to read and share our “Brake for Bela” public safety campaign materials with someone you love. Visit our Facebook page at

No comments:

Post a Comment