Life: roses one day, thorns the next

Published 9:08 am Tuesday, January 14, 2014

It was a weekend we all wish had never took place.

In my line of work, the majority of those seven weekly days (news never sleeps) are, for the most part, mundane. Sure, there’s plenty of work to do….Gene and I are alone in covering news and sports in four counties. But what we call in the biz as “spot news” doesn’t occur as much as you think.

That all changed over the course of Friday, Saturday and Sunday…..a 72-hour stretch that was packed with sadness.

In the world of news coverage, one minute you’re telling the story of a person growing a giant pumpkin, and the next you’re off to a tragic accident. One night will find me snapping photos of an athletic event….the next there’s a fire that has left a family homeless.

It’s not like we’re a bunch of vultures circling overhead, waiting to feast on bad news. I’d much rather report on all that’s good, but there are cases when life turns sour.

On Friday night, just as the skies were opening up with rainfall, the police scanner on my desk was screaming. Calls for help were heard shortly after a vehicle ran off the road, hit a tree and burst into flames near Colerain in Bertie County.

You could hear the helplessness on the scanner as emergency responders at the scene could do nothing until the blaze was extinguished. Gene talked with residents living near the accident scene….at least two tried in vain to rescue the victims, but the searing heat and flames turned those efforts aside.

In the aftermath we learned that a Colerain couple and their 1-year-old granddaughter lost their lives. They were reportedly en route to Bertie High School to take in a basketball game…..a simple and fun family outing that took such a tragic turn in the blink of an eye.

What we fail to think about in tragedies such as this is the impact they have on emergency responders. Being from a rural area, most of our EMTs, firefighters and law enforcement personally know those involved in these tragic accidents. What makes it tougher is the fact that most have families….children of their own. I can’t imagine what it’s like to perform a job such as theirs in a situation similar to Friday night. All the training they go through cannot prepare them for such an event.

Ditto for early Saturday afternoon when a young teen, after surviving an auto accident on NC 42 in Bertie County, stepped out of the vehicle onto a still charged power line (impacted by the accident) and was electrocuted. It was reported he was in the company of family members en route to watch him compete at a Recreation League basketball game in Ahoskie.

In less than 24 hours, the Roanoke-Chowan area lost two members of our next generation and an equal number of adults.

And then, late Sunday afternoon, a Hertford County family is enjoying the end of a fine, early winter day and their house goes up in smoke. By the time I arrived around 5:30 in a well-kept neighborhood off Hall Siding Road near Brantley’s Grove, firefighters from Ahoskie and Winton were pouring water on an inferno.

Off to the side, friends and neighbors wrapped their arms around the victims….offering comfort and words of encouragement. The good news is that they, unlike four souls involved in deadly auto mishaps on the previous two days, survived. They can pick up the pieces, regroup and rebuild, but yet they remain victims.

I’ve wrote all this just to make one point….you never know what life holds. One day it’s roses, the next it’s thorns. Don’t ever forget to wrap your arms around those who mean so much to you in life and say those three little words….I love you. You never know if you’ll get that chance again.

Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal