To the editor:
As I sit at my computer today reading headlines I come across a horrible, crippling picture of a mattress lying on a highway. I click the link and start to read a story that immediately makes my heart sink to the floor. Another driver did not secure their load, which caused it to fall onto the highway, cause a major accident, and now, I have learned, kill a woman. This infuriates me to no end, and I will tell you why:
In 2005, my husband Robert Occhipinti, a lifelong Salem resident, an accomplished successful professional, a loving husband of almost 20 years, and a proud father of 13- and 15-year-old boys, was killed by the same fate in Florida while vacationing with a friend. On a dark stretch of highway at approximately 9 at night, a car lost a mattress. It fell into my husband’s lane, there was no time to react, and he hit it. He was riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, not speeding, wearing a helmet and enjoying the first vacation he had taken in probably 15 years. He never opened his eyes again. He was held on life support for two days for family and friends to say goodbye and then, just like that, in the blink of an eye, he was gone.
The state of Florida never found the person who lost the mattress; therefore, my children, now 24 and 22, will never have closure. I am sure the people saw the accident unfold in their rearview mirror just as I am sure the person that dropped this mattress saw the same thing. Trying to “Mickey Mouse” your belongings on the roof of a car, a truck or whatever just to save time getting from point A to point B is NOT acceptable. It is YOUR responsibility to secure your loads. Almost daily, I see something waiting to fly off the back of a vehicle. I make it a point never to travel behind them. My heart goes out to the family of the woman killed. I know and feel their pain. I, however, find no excuse good enough for this accident. Yes, I am still angry, and, no, I will never get over the death of an amazing man from senseless carelessness.
Please secure your loads, please watch at all times and pull over if you think things are shifting. This IS YOUR responsibility, no one else’s. And for the drivers, my advice is to get away from anyone carrying items that you “think” are secure.