The final days of junior year were what sent my world spinning. It was June 26, 2018, to be exact. The day was hot, but not sticky and uncomfortable. It would be a couple of days before I would receive my report card and could check my Regents scores. I had been relaxing at home when I got the news. A classmate of mine had been killed crossing the street right near our old stomping grounds. I quickly ran over to the spot while on the phone with a friend. The ground was bare and not many people were around, the only audible thing was the hum of slow-moving cars. I was in total disbelief and was ready to say the news wasn’t true, but soon other mourners began to come and pay their respects to the saturnine street corner. How could anyone kill a seventeen-year-old so violently? It didn’t click then, but as the following days progressed, the pieces began to fill in.
The driver was an octogenarian who she could barely see anything, let alone, what was on the road. In the Queen’s DA report, she had claimed she had not been able to see whether the light was green or red. This was no excuse for what had transpired. Not only were there speed cameras in place that should have deterred the woman from speeding, but the light had also been at a steady red for seconds. “This extremely sad and tragic case” could’ve easily been avoided had the driver made the decision to stop driving if she could barely see. The3 verdict was that the driver was to be discharged, granted she did not get arresting in a one year period. The “accident” not only shook up me and her fellow classmates, but also the community of Bayside, New York. Bayside was her hometown, so to honor her memory, the whole community came out to pay their respects at the candlelight vigil. My friends and I that had gone to school with her signed and promoted the petition to restrict elderly drivers licenses. After going through the shock of what had just happened, we realized that it really could’ve been one of us. With that horrifying and terrible thought in mind, we’ve all worked on supporting each other through this. We now know that we could go at any time, so we work towards being the people we have always wanted to be in every moment. Her death instigated us to stop being reliant on tomorrow, and that if we wanted to bring about the change we wanted in our community and lives, we’d have to act as soon as possible.
After analyzing everything about Maddie, from my earliest memory of her to how she went, I changed my personality. Despite us not being close friends, I had always admired her. She was patient, empathetic but also was fierce when she needed to be. She wasn’t afraid to call someone out if they were being rude or hateful. Besides being unafraid, she was one of the most encouraging people I’ve ever met. The last thing she said to me was when I become famous, give her a call. She had always said my art was museum quality and that’d it would be big. Although I am no longer pursuing art, I have definitely taken up her motto of encouraging others with their passions rather than discouraging them. Her words meant the world to me, and if they can impact someone else just as much, I think we’d be in a better place right now as a society.