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Roadways are dangerous for animals and people, so I don’t know if our stretch of U.S. Highway 2 is any more dangerous than other roads in the state or the country, or if we just think it is because we see the carnage as we drive each day and reside here less than a quarter-mile from the center line.

Yesterday at 7:30 a.m., a man traveling eastbound on a motorcycle crashed into a road construction water truck that had been pulling a loaded flatbed westbound and had turned left across the motorcyclist’s path. The 61-year-old Wisconsin man died not 350 yards from the point at which my driveway meets the highway.

I did not know the man.

I do not know where he had been or where he was going, why he was traveling alone, what happened in his last moments or hours or days to bring him to that point and time, who loves him and who will miss him, if he had time for his life to flash before is eyes or if he enjoyed the replay if it did.

If he had passed by my north 40 just fifteen minutes later, I might have seen him as I waited to pull out onto the new black top. I probably would have thought no more about the encounter than where and when I would be able to pull into the flow of morning traffic. At most I would’ve noted favorably that he was wearing a helmet, or tssked at his speed, or wondered if he was going to Sturgis for the bike rally.

And that truck driver, then, might have been going about his work day on the Highway 2 construction site. I might’ve seen him on my way to the office or my way back home. Maybe he’s worked this construction project all summer and I’ve waited for him, or cussed him for the dust, or thanked him for the moisture, or followed behind him, or waved at him already. Maybe he had nightmares last night.

A man died, another man’s life changed.

If not for their meeting, that moment, that crash, I would not have given the men a total of two minutes’ thought in all my days. Virtually none of the thousands or tens of thousands of people they would’ve passed by, or met, or followed, or led along the highway that day would’ve had reason to give them any more pause.

Then that man died less than 50 feet from the northwest corner of my property. I didn’t know him.

But I had to write just one of the hundred-something things I’ve wanted to express about his death.

I noticed.



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