put your mask on first, then your child’s



at the Gardner-Webb game early last season

As many of you have read yesterday’s entry have found out, Jason Ray, the 21-year-old senior who dressed as our mascot Rameses, passed away after being hit by a car near the team’s hotel in New Jersey. He was walking along a busy road at night en route to a convenience store nearby, something Sean, Michelle and I had done countless times while surviving my mom’s divorce in and around Morristown, NJ, staying at crappy hotels while producing various music books for kids.

Inevitably, you get hungry at midnight, the hotel’s candy machine only has Funyuns and Certs left, and since this country could give a fuck about walking anywhere, you find yourself traversing a sludge-filled moat and balancing on the curb of a state route in the middle of the night. I feel like I was there, I knew what that last errand was exactly like.

Suffice to say this: this country was made for cars. Getting out of one, in any kind of road environment, is an exercise in crappy odds. If you get a flat tire, ride that goddamn rim to safety, and get your car as far from the side of the road as possible. I won’t allow a tire to be changed within fifty feet of a highway, because someone, right now, is going 72 mph and reaching for a french fry caught between the cushions of the back seat, and he is damn well going to swerve onto the shoulder.

I’d like to use this entry for two purposes: one to offer our condolences to the Ray family, as we can’t possibly fathom the depth of their loss. Jason was an organ donor, and apparently up to fifty patients may be saved thanks to him. I’d encourage all of you to make sure you have the same provision on your license or in your will.

The second purpose is this: what lifesaving tip do you have for the rest of us? It can be anything mundane, or obvious, or long-term, or whatever. If you’ve heard of any situation where someone died needlessly, or read a statistic that shocked you, leave a comment about one thing we can do to try and nudge the odds a little more in our favor.

0 thoughts on “put your mask on first, then your child’s

  1. emma

    The true loss that the Heels suffered this week is the loss of Jason Ray. My heart goes our to his family and friends.
    One word regarding organ donation. It is preferable to put your wishes on your license or an organ donor card versus your will. Quite often, a will is in a safe deposit box or some other inaccessible place and may not even be read until after the funeral at which point your organ donation wishes are useless.

  2. Tanya

    Now that I’m a parent, my greatest fear and worry is experiencing the death of my child. That would be simply a living hell. My thoughts and prayers have been with Jason’s family since I heard about the accident.
    My lifesaving tip? I have two:
    1. Wear your damn seatbelt. So many people still don’t – my brother-in-law is one. He says it’s “uncomfortable.” I mean, really…
    2. Don’t drive motorcycles. That’s asking to get killed or horribly maimed. And it’s just plain dumb.

  3. salem's little sister

    Wear a helmet when biking, horseback riding or ski/snow boarding. A high school senior from Charlotte died in CO from a skiing accident last week. I watched my equestrian mentor get knocked out from a fall while wearing an ASTM/SEI safety approved helmet. There is no telling what damage she would have suffered if she hadn’t been wearing her helmet. Also, make sure it’s actually safety approved by ASTM/SEI and buckle it.

  4. budster

    Pay attention.
    Practice awareness of what you’re doing and what’s going on around you. At all times.

  5. Bozoette Mary

    Like Tanya, I live with the fear that my son will die before me. Because he’s a cop, the odds are that much greater that he’ll die a violent death as well.
    Anyway, my tip: when you’re biking at night, wear white, wear lots of lights, be sure you can be seen.
    And wear sunscreen.

  6. karin

    I know of two people who were killed while changing their flat tire along a highway. If the flat is on the side of traffic, call for help and don’t try to fix it yourself.

  7. Anne D.

    Pretty much what you said, Ian: Pedestrians on any busy road, highway, etc. are always taking their lives in their hands. Sad but true.
    Here in RI, a town is mourning the deaths this week of two teenagers from the same high school. One died in a car crash, the second — one of his good friends — died as he stood next to an impromptu roadside memorial to the crash victim, playing his guitar in tribute. Someone drove right into him. The entire community is in utter shock. Both kids were honor students and active in theater.
    Two other teenagers one town over died last week: One skidded in her car on an icy road in broad dayligt on her way to work after school; the other was on a skateboard without a helmet and wiped out and suffered fatal head injuries.
    SO: Wear helmets for biking, skateboarding, inlining type sports. Stay away from busy roadsides at all times. If you live anywhere with cold, snowy, and/or icy conditions, learn how to avoid skids and steer out of them.
    I’m so very sorry about the mascot guy. (Why a ram, BTW?) My husband and I heard this last night and I thought of you UNC folks right away. :-(

  8. GFWD

    ANNE D.,
    Check out this link to see the derivation of many of Carolina’s traditions, including the ram as a mascot.
    As for suggestions on safety: Go to the doctor at least once a year or so for physicals and bloodwork to see if you’re healthy. Know your family history. If it’s filled with specific diseases, take some steps to help thwart them.
    Tell your loved ones that you love them.

  9. tbruns

    I can’t stress enough the importance of bike/skateboard/skate helmets. My kids have faced ridicule in the neighborhood for always wearing their helmets but as a parent I couldn’t handle the sight of my son with a serious brain injury. I just tell the youngest that Tony Hawk always wear a helmet and not only is he way cool but also very rich. oh, and not to sound to dated but by god put some shoes on before you go out that door!

  10. ls

    Listening to your instinct, intuition, inner voice, whatever and obeying it when it tells you to leave, to not take that last drink, get in that car, be alone with that guy, whatever. Has saved me more than I care to remember.

  11. cl

    If something is bothering you, even a consistent headache, don’t put off going to the dr. just because you’re ‘too busy.’

  12. GFWD

    Neva, you are right. I should have been more specific. The last time I went to the doctor for a “check-up”, I had blood work performed, my cholesterol checked and then my doctor put on a rubber glove and shoved his finger so far up my ass I started singing “Moon River”. The prostate’s fine, in case anyone wanted to know.
    Next time I’m getting a doctor with smaller fingers! When I bitched to my wife about my traumatic experience, she just rolled her eyes and mumbled something about having it easy as a man, throwing out words like “stirrups” and “S-P-E-C- . . . S-P-E-C-U- . . . S-P-E-C-U-L- . . .” aw, hell, I’ve got to go.
    Here’s some more safety advice I learned the hard way:
    Drive slower in heavy rain when cars are more prone to hydroplaning.
    If milk smells bad, don’t taste it to confirm–just throw it out.
    Don’t fudge your weight when signing up to bungee jump.
    Don’t attempt to drink six (6) Hurricanes from Pat O’Brien’s in one night.
    If you water ski and you feel yourself starting to lose control, try to fall BACKWARDS.

  13. Laura

    Thanks for mentioning the importance of declaring your intent to donate your organs on your license – excellent first step. The next VITAL step is to tell your family of your wishes in very definite terms, so that they won’t be in any doubt, should they have to make an excrutiating decision. A conversation you’ve had with them will mean much more than a decision made at the DMV – and will make your family much more comfortable.

  14. Paul G

    Put together an emergency kit and keep it somewhere you can easily get to at almost all times. I keep mine in my car, with:
    -plenty of bottled water
    -snack bars
    -wind-up radio
    -kinetic energy flashlight
    -dry clothing (including shoes and socks)
    -jumper cables
    -ac/dc converter
    -swiss army knife
    -big bottle of wine :-)
    P.S. Keep a knife or something that could break your car window in your glove box in the event your car goes into water. A couple years ago in NY, two cars fell off bridges within a couple days and the poor people were trapped inside and drowned.

  15. Cason D

    Jason was a friend of mine, we were in a bible study together freshman year and we are all dealing with his loss here on campus. I just got back from a memorial service and it really hit me how life just isn’t fair sometimes and that it can be so short so we must not take it for granted. People here haven’t talked about the Georgetown loss that much, we’re all grieving from the loss of Jason. My prayers and condolences to his family.
    As for a safety tip, I can say wear sunscreen when you’ll be outside for more than 30 minutes. You need it for more than just the pool and the beach. My dad just had a benign growth removed from his arm that doctors originally feared was serious skin cancer. Pale people like myself are most at risk so we need to be especially conscious of it.


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