Final Words of Love: A 1966 Vermont Tragedy

Can you recall the last words someone spoke before they left this world?

Back in 1966, when I was a 16-year-old in Vermont, I found myself in the midst of a horrific accident that etched its memory into my soul. The passenger in the car met a tragic end on impact, impaled on the windshield, while the husband, propelled through the window opening, landed in a ditch. The front of the car came to a halt, and a shock absorber pierced his lower groin-femur area. A friend and I tried desperately to lift the car off him, but our strength fell short. In this rural area, miles away from the nearest town and in an era long before cell phones, help was a distant promise.

As I stayed by his side, his condition steadily worsened over the next 45 to 60 minutes – an agonizing stretch that felt like an eternity. He queried about his wife, and I assured him my friend was with her, offering comforting words that she was okay. Calling out her name, he expressed his love and then delved into tales of his family in Ohio, emphasizing his reluctance to burden them. Declaring himself fine, he urged me to go assist his wife, but I insisted that others were attending to her.

Curiosity about the driver of the other car occupied his fading consciousness. Overheard conversations indicated the grim truth – the other driver had also succumbed to the accident. Another compassionate couple approached, suggesting I free myself from beneath the car and wait for help. Yet, I declined, assuring them I was fine. The man thanked me for staying and inquired again about his wife. I reassured him, but a misguided woman insisted she was dead. In his anguish, he cried out, demanding clarification. I hastily corrected the misunderstanding, emphasizing that she was fine and the mention of death pertained to the occupants of the other vehicle.

In his gratitude, he expressed thanks for the help and extended an invitation to visit him and his wife in Ohio once they returned home. His passing, approximately five minutes later, marked a somber moment. The arrival of the fire truck and ambulance, and a subsequent conversation with a State Trooper, confirmed the grim reality – everyone involved in the accident had lost their lives.

It was a sorrowful day, forever etched in my memory. Despite the excruciating pain this man endured, his thoughts were solely consumed by concern for his wife and family. In the face of tragedy, his selflessness and love for his dear ones shone brightly, leaving an indelible mark on my heart.


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