CORNER BROOK Steve Clarke says he did all he could to help the out-of-control car stay on the road and to reach his dying best friend on the roadside after it crashed, but his best efforts were futile.
The 18-year-old said he rushed to his friend Alex McCarthy’s side after the car the four teenagers were travelling in flipped five or six times just outside of St. Jude’s on the Trans-Canada Highway early Friday evening.
Clarke had been sharing the back seat with McCarthy as the three boys and the female driver were returning to Corner Brook after a trip to Deer Lake. As well as sharing each other’s company, they were also sharing a placid attitude toward wearing seat belts.
“When you’re a teenager you don’t really think about it,” Clarke said. “‘I’m too cool for that,’ or whatever, and have a ‘who cares, nothing is going to happen’ kind of attitude.
“Now, it changed me.”
In hindsight, Clarke realizes the only effort it would have taken to save the life of his 15-year-old friend would have been to strap on the belt.
“He would still probably be here,” he said.
That is why Clarke found the strength to talk about the accident, he said. It is important for everybody to realize that wearing seat belts saves lives, and sometimes it can be too late to learn that lesson.
The distraught teenager says he remembers realizing the car was out of control. He said he jumped up in an attempt to control the wheel, but to no avail.
“All I can remembering is just rolling and rolling and rolling,” Clarke said.
After being beat around the vehicle during the crash, he said the driver ended up in the passenger seat and the front passenger in the back.
McCarthy was no longer inside the car.
Despite the internal bruising and soft-tissue injuries Clarke suffered, he said he rushed outside looking for his best friend. Seeing McCarthy lying on the ground, he ran to his side, held him in his arms, yelled out his name.
Other than a minor movement in McCarthy’s shoulders, Clarke said he found no sign of life. He held him until the paramedics arrived.
Clarke also dug deep for the strength to talk about his best friend because he wants people to know what kind of young man he was. Although a few years apart in age, they shared common interests.
Clarke relished the friendship because McCarthy was always happy. When others weren’t, he was the one sure to cheer them up, according to his friend.
“He always knew exactly what to say to make you laugh,” Clarke said of the Grade 10 student at Corner Brook Regional High. “We all would be sitting around, and he would randomly jump up and start dancing or do some funny dance moves. He was just one of those people who would do anything for you.”
McCarthy’s death leaves a void in Clarke’s life now, and he is not sure how he will overcome it. Right now, what happened still doesn’t seem real for the young man.
“It feels like a dream,” he said. “I think about it everyday — what I’m going to do and how I’m going to get over it.”
He attended the wake in McCarthy’s hometown of Benoit’s Cove Monday night, and he said the place was packed with people paying their respects and saying their goodbyes. He expects the funeral today to be the same.
“He was loved and known by everybody,” he said.