On Saturday, for some reason that I have forgotten, I wrote this story to Facebook instead of here. Usually I cross-post the other way around. Below is the story, followed by an update.
Here's a reminder that when we pray at church for those travelling in the next week, it is no meaningless exercise. Travel is dangerous!
Early this morning, Porter was driving a choir friend to the airport. At about the time he should have been on his way home again, my phone rang. It was Porter, asking if I could find out if something major had happened at the airport. They had been almost there when traffic ground to a halt and Google claimed the road ahead was closed. It sent them on a very long detour to the other side of the airport, where traffic had also ground to a halt.
I tried several sources of news with no success. I looked on Google Maps and saw that indeed the traffic was a total mess all around the airport. But I couldn't help except with moral support, as the clock ticked away the minutes before our friend's flight. Porter saw people getting out of their cars and walking to the airport.
Eventually, however, Porter crept his way to the B side of the airport, where he could drop our friend off. He then drove to the nearest Panera Bread and ordered himself a drink and a breakfast soufflé, figuring there was no point in making the (nominally) 45-minute drive home if he was just going to have to turn around and pick our friend up again.
By that point we knew that whatever the problem was, it wasn't inside the airport, because the security lines were short, and soon our friend let us know that he did make it to the gate on time.
It wasn't till after Porter was home and I could see him, safe and sound, that the news caught up with the story and we learned that the cause of the mess was a fatal car crash immediately ahead of where our guys had been shunted to the alternate route.
Seconds earlier and they might have been in the crash themselves; seconds later they would not have been able to take the detour and been like the drivers who reported sitting in their cars for two hours.
One thing I know for sure: I'm really, really glad that I already knew our guys were fine by the time I read that two people had died in a car crash exactly where and when I expected them to be.
[knees still weak at the thought]
UPDATE: I know now that the guys actually didn't just miss the accident, which occurred at 2:30 a.m. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around how a one-vehicle accident at that hour could have the roads still closed six hours later. Granted, it was nasty—four people in a Land Rover had crashed into a concrete barrier and flipped into a canal. Two passengers were killed, the driver and another passenger had minor injuries. The surprise isn't that two people were killed, but that two people only had minor injuries after smashing into concrete and ending up in a canal.
Despite—probably because of—Google making some bizarre suggestions for the detour, our guys' delay was apparently much less than most people's. And it wasn't just passengers who couldn't make their planes—lots of flights were affected, I assume because flight crews were stuck in the traffic, too. We don't have the whole story yet, but I know the takeoff of our friend's flight was delayed by half an hour, and since his connection was going to be a tight one anyway, he probably missed that. However, we do know that he arrived safely at his destination.