Often we take for granted how precious life really is and how quickly things may change.

I was reminded of this over the Christmas holiday when my first cousin, Mark Lewis, died suddenly and unexpectedly at the young age of 56.

And then again over the New Year’s weekend I was reminded that life is fleeting as I listened to a police pursuit reaching speeds of more than 100 miles per hour on a Sunday morning and wondered if some poor soul’s life would be snuffed out by the recklessness of another human being with no regard for his own life, much less anyone else’s.

It was nearing noon as I listened to a scanner blaring that the suspect was entering Virginia from North Carolina, and my thoughts went to all the unsuspecting people who might find themselves in the path of this reckless driver.

Law enforcement officers were providing a detailed play-by-play description of landmarks the suspect was passing as he flew northbound down 501.

Then just before noon he ran over spike strips put out by officers at the intersection of Highway 501 and East Hyco Road blowing out two tires and causing his Ford Expedition to hit a state police cruiser.

Thankfully, Virginia State Trooper D. T. Spencer was spared harm.

But that wreck didn’t seem to faze the suspect as he recklessly continued through the busy intersection of Highway 501 and 58, through Riverdale and proceeded up Main Street going the wrong way, mind you.

I glanced at my watch and thought about the numerous churches on North Main Street and in downtown South Boston that would be letting out droves of unsuspecting churchgoers in just minutes.

By the grace of God, somehow the reckless driver made it all the way up Main Street going the wrong way and onto Wilborn Avenue without hitting any motorists, but then he lost control and crashed into two more cars — thankfully, they were unoccupied and parked — just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But this incident could have had a much, much worse ending. Thankfully it ended with the suspect’s capture thanks to dedicated law enforcement efforts.

Fortunately, no one was seriously injured because of this selfish individual’s desire to elude police for whatever his reasons might have been.

But when you stop and think about what five or 10 minutes difference may have made with the volume of church traffic pouring onto that Main Street thoroughfare, one has to be thankful to God He is in control of the outcome of this situation as well as all of life.

The year 2017 went out with a bang in little ole South Boston.

Here’s hoping 2018 will be kinder and gentler.

Paula I. Bryant is the editor of The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at pbryant@gazettevirginian.com.​

Paula I. Bryant is the editor of The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at pbryant@gazettevirginian.com.