June 16, 2007. It was a Saturday night in Selmer, a small Tennessee town about 30 minutes from Freed-Hardeman University. Hundreds of spectators lined the street to watch a show sponsored by the charity Cars for Kids. But the event turned into a nightmare. At 6:30 p.m. professional driver Troy Warren Critchley did a controlled burn-out along the parade route. Due to his recklessness, the dragster careened off the road, slammed into a light pole, and then struck the crowd. Two people died at the scene. Four more died within a few hours of the accident. All six of the dead were young—in their teens or early 20’s. In addition to these victims, 20 other bystanders required hospitalization.
Heartbreaking tragedies like these remind us of the scriptures that speak of the brevity of life. “Lord,” David prayed, “let me know my end, and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is! Behold, thou hast made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing in thy sight. Surely every man stands as a mere breath!” (Ps. 39:4-5). Job said that man “comes forth like a flower, and withers; he flees like a shadow, and continues not” (Job 14:2). And James pointed out that “you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (Jas. 4:14).
Life is a disappearing mist, and youth is no guarantee of long years to come. None of the young people watching the Cars for Kids parade planned to die that Saturday night. Death never takes our plans into account. Since no one can count on tomorrow, we must watch and be ready today.