I woke yesterday morning to the sound of a garbage truck banging a trash bin against its side. But it wasn’t a trash truck. We don’t hear those here. It was the sound of instant death.

Immediately outside our windows on Ave. Jose Dinez, two buses and a taxi were involved in a pile-up.

bus1
Ann Aubrey Hanson

At least I thought it was one taxi…seeing the taxi at the front of the pile-up, and figuring that it had scooted in front of a bus, causing the first bus to brake and the second one to rear-end it.

It was only later that I learned that a second taxi had been involved, and was under the second bus, folded and twisted. The taxi driver and his passenger were crushed, and, I pray, killed instantly.

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Globo News

I was in a fog about the accident all day. Fortunately, I had an appointment and couldn’t stand at my window and watch as the buses were hauled up and away and the car was untwisted so that the bodies could be removed. Seeing photos on the news was more than enough for me.

accident5
Globo News

It isn’t just the carnage that struck me, but rather the seeming randomness of the deaths. A Frenchman living in Sao Paulo hires a luxury taxi to take him to work, and minutes later, his life is snuffed. As is the life of the taxi driver. Pfft. Gone. And all because of idiotic driving.

According to reports, the second bus was traveling about 40 kph (25 mph) in a 50 kph (31 mph) zone as it approached a bus stop. Witnesses say that the bus driver was trying to keep the taxi from cutting in on him, as they do regularly and spectacularly unsafely. Then, the first taxi cut in front of the first bus, initiating an instantaneous chain reaction, resulting in the death of two and 9 people injured on the buses.

Following the accident, traffic was stopped for miles in each direction on one of the main thoroughfares of the south side of the city. Thousands of people riding buses had to disembark and walk miles to get to work.

bus2
Ann Aubrey Hanson

Thousands in cars had to wait hours for the wreck to be cleared before traffic could budge. Some took things into their own hands, and forged a way out of the snarl.

bus4
Ann Aubrey Hanson

In the afternoon, when I returned home, there was little evidence of what had occurred only hours earlier, and certainly no sign that two lives had ended.

bus5
Ann Aubrey Hanson

I felt inexplicably saddened by that, so last night, Tom and I bought two begonia plants and put them at the base of the streetlight where the accident had happened. The begonias were gone this morning, as I had expected, but for a few hours, they were a remembrance.

I prayed for the victims and their families as I lay in bed last night, as I had prayed briefly when we placed the flowers.

I also prayed for us and for our friends living here in this city of spontaneous crime and cruelty…to keep us safe from crime and horrific traffic accidents. We all have to move within this city, and nowhere is safe. Perhaps it is the same in any megapolis, but here, we hear stories every day of random death and destruction.

Those of you who read this blog and who believe in the power of prayer, I ask you to add us to your list of concerns. The randomness of death here terrifies me. I’d appreciate the mantle of protection of your prayers.