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Remembering A Young Life

A makeshift memorial for bicyclist Christopher Weigl, who was killed at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and St. Paul Street Thursday morning. (Curt Nickisch/WBUR)

A makeshift memorial for bicyclist Christopher Weigl, who was killed at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and St. Paul Street Thursday morning. (Curt Nickisch/WBUR)

For many of us at WBUR and the larger Boston University community who came to work Thursday, we were reminded of how fragile life is.

Just outside of WBUR, we saw a large tractor trailer truck blocking the busy intersection on Commonwealth Ave. Police had cordoned off the scene with yellow plastic tape. Underneath the truck, a battered bicycle and a body, covered by a white tarp.

It was one accident, one tragedy among many that occur every day in the city. But it was difficult for many of us to put this one out of our minds because it hit so close — and because we soon learned a little something about the young man who lost his life so suddenly:

As we learn from the above video — made by his fellow journalism students at BU — Christopher Weigl was 23 years old. He dreamed of becoming a professional photographer. One of his professors remembered him as “a terrific young man who would have made a spectacular photojournalist.” Now he’s gone, and we can only imagine the pain and heartbreak of his family and friends.

Christopher’s body remained on the street for several hours as police investigated and took statements from witnesses, including the driver of the truck — who looked pale, shocked and lost.

Christopher was the fifth bicyclist killed in Boston in 2012. The number of bike accidents ticked up this year, a result of the fact that more people are riding bikes in Boston than ever before.

So what do we learn from his untimely death?

Law enforcement officials will decide who was at fault, but that judgment won’t bring Christopher back. It does remind us of a couple of things:

  • If you ride: Slow down and look around. You might have the right of way, but that means nothing if you end up underneath a car, bus or truck.
  • If you drive: Slow down and remember that bikes are everywhere, and their numbers are growing — which is a good thing, but it means more of us are at risk. That extra care by all of us saves lives, as it should have saved Christopher Weigl’s.

Christopher said he’d just moved to Boston last September and that he hadn’t had time to get to know the city “and do fun things” — that sort of broke my heart.

The bigger message, of course, is how fleeting life can be. All we know for sure is that we have it now. So hug your kids, love your partner, embrace your friends today. And ride safe.

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  • ChevSm

    Very well said. 

    You make some excellent points for both bikers and drivers to contemplate.  

    My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/jgmeath Jonathan Meath

    The memorial that Anthony just gave on air was touching.  And the ender, about treasuring one’s own life and loved ones was marvelous.  Thank you Anthony!

  • JM

    Thank you for that tribute, Anthony.  I had to hold back tears.  Coincidentally, I work in the bike industry locally and commute by bike often, as do most of my nearly 25+ co-workers here.  Your piece made me stop what I was doing and listen and think deeply. 

Hosts Meghna Chakrabarti and Anthony Brooks introduce us to newsmakers, big thinkers and artists and bring us stories of relevance to Bostonians here and around the region. Live every weekday at 3.

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