Life provides no guarantees. Despite all the precautions we take, fate still intervenes.
For decades, the intersection on Route 443 at Normal Square, at Mill Road and Fritz Valley Road, has been a dangerous site. Numerous accidents and fatalities have taken place there over the years.
Residents and motorists lobbied for a traffic light, and this year, finally, after years of red tape and obstacles, a traffic light replaced the former blinking light, a safety measure that hopefully would make the intersection safer for motorists.
The cost of the transformation was $155,000. County and township officials were planning a ribbon cutting ceremony tomorrow at the intersection to celebrate the achievement.
But that's not going to happen.
Yesterday, about 8:03 in the morning, the unthinkable happened less that two weeks after the Normal Square light was activated. A 62-year-old Coaldale woman, Linda F. Huynh, was killed, when the van she was driving collided with an ambulance.
The driver of the ambulance service was heading West on Route 443 approaching the Normal Square traffic light. The driver was not on an emergency call. The ambulance is owned by Regional EMS and Critical Care of Lehighton.
The 2005 Dodge Mini-Van was driven by the victim. She was traveling North on Mill Road towards Route 443 and the Normal Square traffic light.
A violent "t-bone" type collision occurred between the ambulance and Dodge Van in the West bound lane of Rt. 443.
Out of respect for the victim's family, the ribbon cutting event won't take place. Instead, PennDOT, at the request of Mahoning Township officials, has erected several large yellow blinking signs along Route 443 warning motorists of an upcoming "Traffic Signal Ahead." The signs were erected just hours after the fatal accident.
Mahoning Township police are still trying to piece together details of how the accident occurred and who was responsible. They're asking anyone who witnessed the crash to come forward and provide any insight they might have.
Meanwhile, motorists who use that route are asked to be extra cautious. Observe the warning signs, and the traffic light. There might be motorists out there who still aren't used to the new signal, and errors in judgment will be made.
Despite yesterday's accident, the new intersection will eventually be safer than the old method. But like anything new, it takes some getting used to. So please be cautious. This holiday season has already been marred by a tragedy at that scene. The fact that there's a new traffic light at the intersection will be of little consolation to the victim's family.