Saturday, August 6, 2016
KEVIN, DAVID, WILLIAM, JONATHAN
A building boom has hit hard in the rural area south of the city of Ontario and in the north-western part of Riverside County. What used to be farm and dairy land is now turning into wall-to-wall housing. But along a street named Belgrave, there is a long stretch that has been waiting for its turn at the building boom. It is a fairly isolated street, not very well lit and is one of those streets where kids like to drag race.
Late one night in August of 2006 four young men lost their lives when their speeding car hit a semi-truck hauling grapefruit. The details aren't important here except to say their car ended up wedged under the the truck. Two boys were killed outright, two died later at a hospital.
The young men were Kevin Limbaugh, David Barros,William Barefield, and Jonathan Hopson; all were either 19 or 20 years old.
The north side of Belgrave in the area of the accident is lined by a white wooden fence that surrounded the property of a former ranch, now vacant and waiting for its turn with the bulldozer. More houses would be built on that land. But after the accident, the part of that white fence nearest the crash became a shrine dedicated to those young men. For days, then weeks, then years, wreaths of fresh flowers, home-made crosses and posters with the boys' names were placed on that fence. The details of the accident were immaterial; what mattered was that their family and friends – and the drivers who used Belgrave in their regular travels – were always reminded of the tragedy that happened that night, when four boys out having fun, were lost forever.
Now eight years after the accident, the land is being readied for houses. As I often use Belgrave, I have seen the fence come down, where the remnants of the shrine could still be seen if I looked hard. I thought it would be nice instead of having a house on that site, a couple of acres could be turned into a park as a remembrance of those four kids. But no, I can see it is not going to happen. And I wonder, who will remember? And will the people who buy that house know what happened so long ago on their very property? Time passes, and people forget.
So for the families of these kids I say that the best I can do is to name them as ImmortalNobodies. Mothers and fathers know that it could have been one of our children.