Ephrata, PA. An elderly man died of old age Tuesday evening while stuck in a traffic jam in Ephrata, a town with many restaurants, malls, and hotels and only a few tiny roads. Clarence Decker was on his way to the other side of town when, unable to move his vehicle due to the other stuck vehicles around him, he succumbed to the ravages of time.
His family was surprised, noting that he wasn’t old when he left the house and that they didn’t even think he was alive anymore. His wife, Nancy, was shocked when she heard the news. “I thought Clarence was dead a long time ago. He left for the grocery store on the other side of town and never came back. I declared him legally deceased and married someone else.”
Sadly, this isn’t an uncommon occurrence. The Ephrata Ambulance uses their helicopter to transport people to and from their rehabilitation ward which is only five miles down the road from their main hospital. “We were having instances of old age killing people before they could even reach the rehabilitation center. The helicopter fleet is expensive but you can’t put a price on a human life.”
The hospital isn’t the only one finding alternate means of travel.
Barry Nickles always walks everywhere he goes since he claims it’s faster than driving. “If I’m going anywhere less than five miles away, I just walk. It’s way faster. Shoes are cheaper than gas anyway.”
His neighbors agree. Don Sully avoids driving because it cost him too much money. “I have to bring along five 10 gallon cans of gas if I want to be able to get anywhere without running out of fuel before I get there. Plus, my car depreciates so badly by the time I get back that it’s almost worthless.” Sully claims that his car is several model years older by the time it gets parked back in his driveway.
John Lapp is a local Amish man who says his he had to put his horse down because of the slow traffic. “When I started my journey to the hardware store I had a young horse. By the time I was halfway back my horse had arthritis so badly he couldn’t move his legs.” Lapp says that was a good thing because many of the drivers stuck in traffic hadn’t eaten for days. “They were mighty hungry. It worked out ya know?”By the time I was halfway back my horse had arthritis so badly he couldn't move his legs. Click To Tweet
Concern has been raised over the traffic flow affecting tourism in the area but mayor Rick Shed says it’s not a problem. “We put up signs advising motorists to stock up on food and water before attempting cross town trips. If they do attempt the trip, they become residents of our town and are no longer tourists. So it’s really a good thing to grow the population.”
Donna Smith runs a Getty Mart along Main Street. She employs several people who deliver food, toilet paper, and camping stoves to travelers stuck on route 322. “I hope they don’t fix the traffic problem since I make my living off the folks stuck in traffic. What would I do without a desperate market eager to pay my outrageous prices in order to stay alive?”
Mayor Shed says the traffic patterns probably won’t change anytime soon. “Partly it’s because we want to get a broad range of opinions on how to fix it most efficiently but mostly it’s because we just don’t give a crap.”
Photo credit: Highway Traffic Jam © Carolyn Franks – Fotolia.com