Tuesday, I had to leave the office a couple of times to get something.
Each time, my mind must have wandered a bit and I think I might have failed to notice a vehicle nearby my car.
I don’t know if the other drivers used defensive driving techniques and managed not to collide with my car or if they had been driving above the speed limit and came upon me in a second I wasn’t looking out the rearview mirror.
In any case, it was a twice-reminder that our lives can change in a second. A desire to see a 100-foot wave on the east coast, a need to get someplace a few seconds earlier or merely being at the wrong place or the right place at the wrong time could mean a change from contentedness to tragedy all in the blink of an eye.
For Jon Sutton, 1989 Plattsmouth High School graduate, that life-changing second came on Sept. 9, 2017, when he joined his motorcycle friends on a beautiful fall day to ride his Kawasaki in the metro area.
At 9 p.m. when his friends decided to imbibe in their favorite brews, Jon decided to ride home to Plattsmouth. In front of him, he noticed a car turning onto the road he was on, but he was unable to stop in time to avoid a major collision.
The accident caused him to break his arm and a leg in several places and lose sight in one of his eyes.
I know this about Jon, because he called for me at The Journal last week.
I answered the phone and heard a somewhat garbled voice asking for me.
“I need to talk to Patti Peterson, the editor.”
“You’re Patti, because I need to talk to the editor.”
I assured him that he had the right person, but that his phone must not be working because I couldn’t hear him.
“My phone is working fine. I had my tongue bit off in an accident and I may be hard to understand. I was wondering if you could do a story on me. I have a computer business. I can fix computers but I can’t afford any advertising, because I don’t have money to pay my heating bill and they are ready to shut it off.”
A lump started forming in my throat.
“Of course I’ll write a story about you, but I’m a little busy today. Can we wait until next week.”
“Sure, anytime would help me.”
I told him I would write questions and he could email me the answers, because he is unable to walk or drive and come to The Journal.
“Do you think someone could take a picture of you with a cell phone and send it to me to go with the story?”
He hesitated. “Yes, I suppose we could do that, but part of my face was torn off during the accident. I’m healing but…”
The lump grew bigger and forced a flood of tears out of my eyes.
“Don’t cry,” he said. “It could be worse. At least I’m alive. I’ve never asked for anyone’s help in my life before, but I don’t know where to turn to. I hate asking for help, but I don’t know what to do.”
Jon eventually sent me several photos of him following the accident. We chose not to share some of them, because the injuries he sustained are simply to graphic for many to behold.
Jon did tell me former Cass County Commissioner John Warsing was paying the rent for him and his wife. John has always been generous to people in need.
Due to the surgeries and rehab, Jon has not been able to work for the past five months. He is now able to use a keyboard and can start repairing computers remotely to earn some extra money.
He yearns to start working again, even though he can barely walk. His wife, Jamie, is unable to work because she is caring for him and her very sick mother.
It almost seems hard to believe that someone could be experiencing so much hardship, but it’s true. Trouble never comes alone.
I would like to think that if something happened to me, there would be someone out there, even if they didn’t know me, who would help keep my heat on and a roof over my head in the dead of winter.
Unlike some whose hard times seem to last a lifetime, Jon didn’t seem to know what entities could help his family in his time of need.
He has been encouraged to set up a Go Fund Me page and it is now up at https://www.gofundme.com/jon-sutton-bill-fund?pc=em_db_co2876_v1&rcid=a09b3f83326047eab6cca0ab84bcf4df
One thing I’ve learned about Plattsmouth is that when someone needs help, people come out of the proverbial woodwork with everything they have.
Anyone who would like to help Jon and his family can donate on the Go Fund Me page or contact Jamie at 402-686-0414.
Let me end with the words of an author who was far greater at his craft than I.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson