Behind the Badge

"For all can see that wise men die; the foolish and the senseless alike perish and leave their wealth to others. "
Psalms 49

The Wrong Tires

One evening another Deputy and I were standing in a parking lot along highway 278 on Hilton Head Island. Highway 278 is a four lane at this point and is straight for about two and a half miles going toward the south end of the island. At the end of the straight stretch is a wide, gentle curve to the right.

I cannot remember the date but I remember watching the space shuttle land from its maiden voyage that day on television. The other Deputy and I were standing beside our cars talking, and we both heard something which to me sounded like the space shuttle landing on highway 278. We both ran to the edge of the parking lot by the road. We saw a black streak go by headed south.

I turned and ran toward my car, the other Deputy told me that I would never catch the car. I told him I knew I couldn't but at that speed even the gentle curve down the road would be too much for the car to make.

By the time we got out on the road the car was out of view. We approached the curve and observed trees on the left side of the road lit up by headlights. We slowed down and saw the car. It had gone off the left side of the road through the median and across the north bound lanes then into the ditch. Sometime after the car left the road it flipped over. It came to rest against a tree upside down.

As I got out of my patrol car, I was sure that I would find the driver trapped in the car dead. To my surprise I saw a man crawl out of the car, then two more crawled out. None of them was hurt. All of them were intoxicated to one degree or another.

The Highway Patrol was called to come investigate the accident. While we were waiting for the Trooper to arrive, the driver walked over to me and asked, "What kind of tires you got on your car?"

I told him Goodyear and he said, "Ya, that's what I'm going to get. I should have bought American, $200 each for those Pirelli tires and just look what happened!" He was pointing at this $40,000 sports car which was now no more then a pile of junk.

I spoke to the Highway Patrolman later and he told me that one of the passengers told him, that just before they came up to the curve, he had looked at the speedometer. It had been registering 160 miles an hour.

by R.L. Dettwiler


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