As I began to read the Wise County Messenger last week, I saw on the front page a CareFlite helicopter landing to pick up someone injured in an accident where two people were killed.
I immediately had a flashback to the time I was flown from an accident that nearly killed me, shortly after I finished high school.
I hadn’t even begun to live – my whole life was ahead of me, and I was out to have fun. My mother had let me borrow her brand-new Cadillac with the promise to have it back to her at work by midnight.
An inexperienced driver and a car with a lot of horsepower didn’t mix well.
At the end of the night, as I was on my way to return her car I was running late. I was speeding down an unfamiliar country road, topped a hill and did not make a left turn. I flipped the car five times and was ejected.
When I came to, I was being loaded on the helicopter. Once I got to the hospital and the doctors saw me, they called my family into the next room and told them I wasn’t going to make it. I was busted up pretty bad on the inside.
They said I would bleed to death by morning, but God said no. Twenty-eight days later I walked out of the hospital.
I remember hearing that small voice before the accident, warning me, but I ignored it.
Before this accident, I had just lost two classmates in a freak accident. I thought about all of this when I saw that front page. Then as I kept reading I came across all the new graduates of 2014.
As I looked at all the faces of these young adults, with their whole lives ahead of them, I got teary-eyed. All I could think about was what I went through, losing my classmates, then nearly my own life.
How many of these kids today will have to go through what I went through? How many will not make it?
If I had only listened to that small voice.
At that age, danger was all around me – fast cars, alcohol, drugs – but I was not scared. Even if I didn’t do any of these things, it was still a danger to me because others around me were.
It is not always our own actions that hurt or kill, but sometimes others’.
It happened to me again in 2003, when once again I did not listen to that small voice.
My girlfriend and I were out with some friends, having fun, and when we decided to leave, I made the choice to allow a co-worker to drive. We never made it home. At some point he lost control of the car, and we had an accident.
He left the scene before the police arrived. I was taken to the hospital, and my girlfriend was flown to Fort Worth. Eight days later she died.
My whole life changed in a matter of seconds – I lost the love of my life, and three children lost their mother because I put our lives into someone else’s hands and did not listen to that small voice that warned me.
Two weeks after the accident I was charged with intoxication manslaughter. Since my co-worker ran from the scene, the blame was shifted to me. I am now serving a 20-year prison sentence.
Why am I telling you this?
Because it can happen to you. I’m trying to save someone’s life. I can’t change what has happened to me in the past, but I can take what God has shown me to warn others of all the dangers out there.
As you graduate high school and start your journey, chasing your dreams and achieving your goals, please take what I’ve shared with you and hang onto it. Plant these words deep inside your heart – and when you hear that small voice trying to tell you something, do not ignore it.
Some say that voice is your conscience. I say it’s God.
Congratulations to the class of 2014. May all your hopes and dreams come true as God protects you on your journey through life.
Larry Anthony Harris of Decatur is an inmate at the Lynaugh Unit, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, in Fort Stockton.