It was the middle of October. Our baby was due any day. Larry would not leave me at home alone in my condition so everywhere he went I went. We were just about to enter the Argonaut Gun Shop in Modesto when we heard a loud bang. I didn’t look toward the sound but Larry did. There was a tow truck just a few feet from Larry.
Those were the days before seat belts. There had been two sitting in the truck seat; the driver and a little boy. The little boy had leaned on the door handle causing the door to open. When the driver reached over to protect the child he swerved to the left hitting a car in the next lane causing the crashing sound. When the truck swerved to the left the little boy was jolted to the right causing him to fall out of the passenger side of the truck.
I thank God I did not see what happened next. As Larry looked toward the crashing sound he saw the little passenger, a beautiful little boy, fall from the truck and go under the set of rear duals. The driver instinctively grabbed the truck radio and called for help as he leaped from his side of the truck. Larry pointed toward the door of the gun shop. He told me in a stern voice to go inside and not look out. I’m so glad he did. He protected me from future memories of this awful accident.
Larry ran to the little one on the road. His little body was crushed. It was obvious he was dead. When Larry looked up his eyes met the eyes of the driver. A quick look at the boy followed by a desperate look into Larry’s eyes left no room for doubt this would play out to be one of the worst days of his life. Not having any words that could possibly make the situation better Larry simply looked at this terrified man and softly said, “I’m sorry.” No one talked. When the ambulance arrived Larry came inside the store to me.
We didn’t continue with our plans for the day but quietly headed for home. Larry made the comment, “He was just a little boy. He was wearing little red tennis shoes. They were still neatly tied. When his mom tied them this morning she didn’t know it would be for the last time.”
The next morning we saw an article in the Modesto Bee describing the accident we’d seen. The drivers name was Darrel Throne. The little boy was his two year old son.
We have both mentioned this incident many times over the years and it has always been very distressing. Thirty-five years later, in 2005, Darrel Throne called Larry inquiring about a piece of property we had listed for sale. The moment Larry heard his name he was taken back again to the awful scene so many years before. He asked Mr. Throne if he had lost a son in an accident in October of 1970 on McHenry Avenue in Modesto. When Mr. Throne answered yes, Larry told him he was the man who had been kneeling beside his son when he came to the rear of the truck and had stayed there until the ambulance arrived.
The two spoke for a few minutes. Mr. Throne seemed grateful to Larry and Larry seemed pleased to speak with him. I think it was good for both of them. The accident had happened so quickly and been so horrible the two had only spoken a few words. In a strange way, this short meeting on the phone seemed to offer some sort of closure to Larry.