A quarter century ago, Celine Zilke and a friend were just riding along on a sunny day in Long Island when she was struck from behind by her classmate Darin and his Oldsmobile.
Half a life ago, writer Darin Strauss was just driving along in his Oldsmobile when his high school classmate Celine swerved directly in front of him. He was exonerated by the police and the subsequent civil suit. A friend had even suggested to Darin that Celine had written a suicide note that morning. Darin understands much later that the note was merely a statement of her mortality rather than a desire for an early death.
Unlike many so-called “suicide swerves” — in which the victim is purported to inexplicably swerve directly in front of a fast moving vehicle — this collision occurred in traffic and apparently had multiple witnesses.
Darin remains convinced that the accident (his word) wasn’t his fault, but is still plagued with guilt over the death of his classmate. He became a published author, and he discusses his guilt in his fourth book Half A Life.
I have a family member with a similar story: he was just driving along at low speed past a bar when an intoxicated bar patron stumbled directly into his moving car as he drove past. Again, he was found innocent of any wrong-doing by both the police and during the civil suit, and, like Strauss, this family member feels guilt almost to the point of dysfunction.
Half A Life is a sobering and painfully transparent look at the aftermath of a car-vs-bike collision when you’re the driver. If you see cyclists on the road up ahead while driving, please ease off on the gas.
You can buy the book online or at your local book seller in hard cover, paperback, and various electronic formats.