TALLAHASSEE, FL—Saying they found themselves shocked, appalled, and yet unable to look away, hundreds of passersby stopped to view the horrible wreckage of 34-year-old local resident Tim Finucane on Tuesday.
Cordoning off a 50-foot area of debris in a beer-can-strewn yard, law-enforcement officials confirmed they found the crushed, broken-down ruin of a man sitting on his front porch and staring blankly into the distance, but would not speculate as to what led to the disastrous scene.
"We haven't been able to determine what could have caused the devastating impact that must have taken place here," said Sgt. James Hodges of the Tallahassee Police Department, standing a few yards away from the chain-smoking wreck. "All we know is that a white male in his mid-30s lost control of his life and, after a series of wrong turns, completely fell apart, coming to a stop where you see him now."
"In my 22 years on the force, I've never seen anything so heart-wrenching," Hodges continued. "Those sad, dull eyes of his—the whole scene is too terrible for words."
Phillip Reiss, a local electrician watching from behind the police barricade, was one of many in the growing crowd who said he felt deeply disturbed but strangely entranced by the human wreckage.
"I can't take my eyes away from it," Reiss said. "It's this feeling of wanting to do something, but feeling completely helpless. I mean, look at him. Is there even anything that can be done to rebuild his life at this point, or do you just try to make him as comfortable as possible?"
Among the hundreds who stood gaping at the shattered man, several told reporters their hearts went out to those who had lost so much in the tragedy. By Tuesday evening, a makeshift memorial of flowers and notes bearing words of sympathy had already been erected in tribute to Finucane's ex-wife, who had so many years of her life stolen from her as a result of the walking tragedy.
"I can't stop thinking about his poor kids," said 53-year-old schoolteacher Robin Mayer, referring to the three as-yet unidentified children scarred for life by the catastrophic ordeal. "It's just so sad to think that they'll never have a normal childhood and will always have to live with this."
"At least on alternate weekends," Mayer added.
Some residents expressed dismay with the assembled onlookers, pleading with the crowd to let Finucane keep whatever dignity he had left and to move aside so someone could "at least come in and clean him up."
Others, including public safety advocate Ted Moura, questioned whether the wreck could have been prevented. Moura claimed that Finucane's increasing dilapidation over the years should have tipped off community officials.
"This was a disaster of a human being waiting to happen," Moura told reporters. "There were plenty of warning signs that he just couldn't bear that kind of weight and stress, and yet no one did anything about it. And now we all have to deal with the aftermath."
Moura added that the sheer number of similar incidences that have occurred in the past year on the same stretch of road where Finucane was discovered—most recently, the massive burnout of 31-year-old attorney Bill Ingraham in March—make it clear that something has to be done to combat the problem.
At press time, officials said that while it seemed unlikely there would be anything worth salvaging, any real efforts to comb through the wreckage would have to wait until morning because Finucane had gone inside to watch NCIS: Los Angeles.