Today on a 3-hour drive from Pemuteran down to Ubud we watched as a 12-year-old boy lost control of his motorbike and crashed landing just yards away directly in front of our van.
He was sideswiped by an oncoming driver and then a truck ran over his body after he landed on the asphalt.
I was sitting in the front passenger’s seat reading and looked up just in time to see most of it, including the rag doll effect of his body rebounding upward as the truck ran him over then released the full weight of the vehicle from his torso.
It happened so fast, so extremely fast.
What transpired next surprised me even more. Our driver sat there and said “you saw nothing, we saw nothing.”
I was horrified.
The Bystander Effect
There was probably 12 or 15 adults standing around the scene of the accident, everyone stood around and looked on as this young child bled to death in the middle of the road.
I told our driver I was getting out of the car.
I walked up to the boy and saw quite a bit of blood, his legs and arms were twitching, as I leaned down to asses the situation two other men came to help. There was an audible silence, and a lot of people speaking in Balinese, I could tell they were pointing fingers.
I stabilized his head and neck the best I could and we lifted him up, he was bleeding from his forehead. He was barely conscious and unable to speak, his eyes were rolling up into the heavens and his pupils appeared dilated.
The three of us took him to the side of the road where I wanted to place him down on the soft grass so we could quickly address any injuries that may need to be stabilized.
The owner of the home yelled at us and pushed us off her lawn, I was taken aback, yet not really surprised. I could tell by our drivers reaction that this was a unique and culturally sensitive situation.
We had to carry the boy past two unwelcoming storefronts until we finally settled for a broken stone walkway on the roadside. I checked his breathing and pulse which was strong and then unbuttoned his shirt and shorts. There were no obvious signs of an external injury. One of the men pulled off his helmet and that is when I got a good look at the boy. It is also when I realized that indeed, he was just a boy.
He could have been my boy, anybody’s boy.
The two men who had helped were also driving a truck with some type of flower or produce in the back. The plan was to drive him quickly to the hospital. We lifted the boy once again and they sat him in the front middle seat of the truck. His body went limp and he fell against the passenger side window.
Then they drove quickly away.
It all happened so fast
It wasn’t until the truck was leaving that I felt the heavy burden of dread come over me, when I realized I should have jumped in the bed of that truck and gone with them.
My family was in a van pulled off the side of the road up ahead, but our driver would have followed had I demanded it.
How could I be so stupid to let him go? What if he started to crash, needed CPR or just somebody there to hold him and care for him on that one hour ride?
Where was I going that was all that important?
So I sat back down in the leather seat of our 6 passenger van and I thought about this 12-year-old boy.
How his life had begun this morning and may have ended this afternoon. He was simply coming home from school, riding a scooter, the warm breeze his hair, laughing like a schoolboy should and then….