We were home at the time. My daughter was home from school with a cold. It was just before 8 AM. We heard nothing.
A woman in a SUV crushed him under the wheels of her car not thirty feet from our front door.
I discovered this only after the police had arrived.
I came out to my lawn and asked what had happened. A nice female officer looked pained but gave me the basic news that there had been an accident involving a child being struck by the car parked in the road in front of me. I asked if the child would be okay. The police officer just looked at me sympathetically, but said she didn't know. Her face told me more. Her face said what had just happened was terrible and a tragedy, but that she was at work so she couldn't say this. That's what her face said.
There was an older woman in her fifties, maybe, on the other side of the road. She was surrounded sympathetically by onlookers. She was seated in a folding chair. Nobody else was. She was talking a lot and shook her head and waved her arms from time to time.
I heard one cop tell another, "She said he just came out of nowhere." When the tow truck lifted her SUV off his bike, it was a tiny, twisted, metal pretzel.
One policeman held it up next the SUV to be photographed. It wasn't even as tall as the car's wheel well. The child didn't stand a chance.
A new bike helmet, with bright green patterns on it now lay upside down in a long, thin pool of raspberry colored liquid. It had streaked out to the curb where I stood after coming out of my home to see what had happened.
The blood pooled away from the helmet in a thin, finger-shaped streak down to the gutter of our sidewalk from the site of impact now marked in bright blue spray paint. The long streak resembled a finger pointing to the spot where the SUV struck the child.
It finally dawned on me that I was looking at a collection of graphic marks which told the story of the last few seconds of a child's life. A life which had so easily and swiftly just been wiped off the map.
I saw a forensics woman carry a large brown bag over to the helmet where she lifted it up and neatly and dropped it in. No flinching. No drama.
Another bag was opened and into that bag was dropped his blood-soaked T-shirt. Several feet away lay a small black backpack. His school bag was the last thing to be bagged and carried off by forensics.
And now as the minutes tick by my curb is becoming a makeshift memorial.
What I can't understand is how the driver did not see the child.
There is a wide view of the road from where she hit the boy. She hit him directly in the middle of the street. She had such a wide berth at that crossing. It's not a narrow roadway or blind corner. I don't see how you miss seeing a pedestrian, even one on a bike at that angle. She rolled on after impact, too. We never heard this, though. I only know this from what is now drawn on the road.
What I also can't get my mind around is that so much violent damage occurred so quietly.
Later today, I returned to the street where the accident happened.
School had not let out yet. I was wondering how it was going be when the day's bell rang and the same children he headed to school with were now headed home. Did they all know what had happened, yet?
The paint still as bright as it was hours earlier. The pool of blood had been washed down, but not washed away. It was now a rust-colored puddle which I hoped the children, perhaps even including his friends and relatives, soon leaving school would not look at too closely.
I noticed a few fragments of the day's accident still lying on the asphalt. Pieces of a bike reflector lay in the road untouched.
I walked into the quiet street and picked up some broken fragments from his bike which still remained in spite of the city's cleaning. I debated throwing another bucket of soapy water on the giant stain in the road, but in the end, I chickened out. I worried about the timing. The elementary school's last bell would ring soon. Children would be here before I knew it.
Fresh liquid in the road would be far more upsetting than what was there now. I decided that if the city felt the washing was good enough, that I should leave well enough alone.
I'm still trying to process this. I was inside my home while a child lost his life in front of our house.
There was no sound of impact. Just wheels moving at about 20-30 miles per hour. There were no screams. No screeching tires. No sirens. It was a quiet, sunny morning in a sleepy suburb in Southern California.
Ironically, almost all of us who live at this intersection were home at the time.
Not one of us heard a thing until we noticed the police putting up barricades in our driveway.
And now the neighbors, many of which I realize with regret I do not know nearly as well as I should, are collecting in heartbreak at the make-shift shrine, where only this morning a little boy just tried to bike to school.
Here's what our local paper, The Orange County Register, had to say about this morning's tragedy.