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Hi, I'm Tamera, a professional wedding, portrait and boudoir photographer in Colorado Springs. But this blog isn't about my professional work; no, it's a daily love note to my beautiful city, where I've lived for most of my life. I love it here and I hope you enjoy seeing Colorado Springs through my eyes and lens!

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19 March 2009

Tragedy on the west side

All of Colorado Springs is heartbroken over the horrific accident that killed 18 year-old Whitney Hendrickson on Tuesday. The accident happened at a 7-11 convenience store on 15th and Colorado. When I was in college, I lived about four blocks from that 7-11 for a summer. It always seemed such a benign place.

The circumstances of the accident seem completely random, almost theatrical, and a real case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. A woman named Kelli McKay lost control of her SUV, which plowed into a truck parked at a gas pump at the 7-11. The truck then ricocheted into the gas pump, which dislodged, pinning Whitney between it and her vehicle and causing large quantities of gasoline to spill onto the pavement. In a matter of seconds everything went up in flames. There was no chance of saving her, though bystanders and first responders tried heroically.

The whole thing is so sad. By all accounts Whitney was a truly special person, and just on the cusp of great things. A makeshift memorial sprung up at the 7-11 almost immediately after the news hit. Clearly she had many loved ones. Tonight we went there with the intent of photographing the memorial for this blog. When I parked the car and turned around, I saw a group of people walking toward it. They gathered silently around the flowers, signs and teddy bears. I didn't have the heart to interrupt them so I went inside the 7-11 for a while, intending to wait until they left. The clerk inside told me that the group of people out there must be members of Whitney's family, that they have come back repeatedly over the last couple of days just to stand there and grieve. I decided to leave and try again another time, but just as I was about to get into my car I saw them all come together in a hug or in prayer. So I took this photo and went home.

I'm certain this is the saddest photograph I've ever taken. It was impossible to witness this scene and not cry. The grief was almost palpable. My heart goes out to Whitney's family and loved ones. I'm so sorry.


Vogon Poet said...

This shot, after reading your post, is really moving. You have been very tactful and I really appreciate that in these circumstances.
The photo is ok, but this thime the photographer is really better.

Lois said...

This is so sad and tragic. I don't even know what to say except I am so sorry. Your photograph is very moving.

Lisa Wilson said...

I saw the story on the news. It's just so awful. I can't imagine what her family is going through.