The story of pain and love behind the pedestrian bridge of Kifissia
The father of the 15-year-old student who lost his life in a car accident sends his own message to all drivers
A minor boy crosses Kifissias Avenue for the last time. It is Friday, December 4, 2009. The 15-year-old then, Solon Karydakis, is at the crossing at the height of Psychiko. The child returns from his school's annual dance when a driver drifts him and injures him fatally. Ten years have passed since that night and Solon's father, Faidon Karydakis, talks about the tragic event that stigmatized his life on the camera of newsbeast.gr, recounts what exactly happened then and sends his own message to all of us.
The "Solon Karydakis" pedestrian bridge is located on Kifissias Avenue at the height of Stefanou Delta Street at the borders of Psychiko and Filothei. It is estimated that it is used by at least 3.000 people every day, most of them students who make a stop at the spot and remember the 15-year-old student who with a smile and his last tear changed the shape of the boulevard.
The idea to build a bridge at this point was not his, said Faidon Karydakis, explaining that it was something that was thought and suggested by the young child's classmates in a symbolic occupation of the point where Solon lost his life and a few took place. days of his death. "Before that at that moment I was waking up outside the Intensive Care Unit and respectively we were running to say goodbye to Solon, I could not think of anything", he said characteristically.
The design of the "dream footbridge" as they call it was done by him, as he is a Civil Engineer and a team of architects. The main financier of the bridge, which eventually cost 2,5 million euros, was George Prokopiou, the father of a classmate of Solon, who gave the initial impetus. But he did not have to fund it entirely because the offers were enthusiastic.
- What is the symbolism of the bridge for you?
It is a functional monument for Solon and reminds us how much we should be careful. It serves daily, according to studies conducted by the Polytechnic, an average of 3.000 people, most of them children. Unfortunately, in the previous days, some serious vandalism took place, as a result of which the bridge could not function properly and the traffic could be significantly reduced. In particular, strangers broke all the doors of her elevators with a sledgehammer. I can not understand which man can go to deliberately and systematically destroy such a public benefit project that can not bother anyone. When the bridge was built, as the president of the company had said, SOS traffic crimes, "there was no reason for Solon to leave. Let this bridge be considered the practical apology of the state to its children that it could not protect ".
- What effect did Solon's death have on your life?
It has changed me as a guide. I now drive as if I am going to the next corner to meet Solon or another child trying to cross the road. This is how we should all drive. The percentage of deaths we have in Greece is frightening even if there is a decrease in recent years. Among young people, from 10 to 35 years old, it is the second or third cause of death. We are talking about some numbers that are crazy. About 1.000 people die every year but in the last 20 to 25 years we have had more than 50.000 dead. That is, an entire city. This is the size of the loss we are recording and it is not justified. Another big issue we need to address is abandonment. When someone hits a child and abandons him, it is like devaluing human life. It is a matter of ethics.
- What do you think is responsible for so many traffic accidents?
We must understand that Greece has a deficit of social consciousness. I leave my house in the morning and I think I am at war. I look around and I'm scared. All this must change. To understand how we drive a very deadly weapon. The mentality is completely different when driving or when you are out of the car. The car isolates you.
- Was the decision to donate Solon's organs difficult?
It is sometimes liberating to feel that death is not in vain and that it gives life to other people. One of the things that hurts me a lot is that when Solon was hit and my wife wanted to donate organs, the child stayed in the intensive care unit for many days while he was brain dead from the moment he was taken to the hospital. The reason he stayed so many days was because his body was very badly injured and he could not eliminate the sedatives that had been given to him for intubation. When we left, after we had said goodbye to him and he was taken to the operating room, we saw the hospital that came to pick up his heart to send it to a child in Germany. Unfortunately we later learned that his heart could not be transported because it was severely beaten. Unfortunately, no organ other than the kidneys could be transplanted. Even that was a great consolation. The man responsible for the accident killed not only Solon but also all those who could not get his organs.
- There are some paintings and excerpts of poems on the bridge. What do they symbolize?
There are two excerpts from poems by Elytis. One was my choice and the other was not. The two paintings are also by Elytis from some series of angels he had made. Some colleagues had asked me "why while the bridge is antidiametric as a placement these paintings are not corresponding". This is because they are in the position where he was hit and respectively at the point where Solon fell after his injury. It is precisely this diagonal movement that the child's body made in the air.
- Ten years later the pain is the same?
He is exactly the same. Shortly before Solon left, a mother who had lost her son told me "there is not a day that I have not cried". It seemed excessive to me. After ten years I can say that "he was absolutely right". We have another son, a twin with Solon. Our young children always spoke in the plural. I was asking one "are you okay?" and answered "we are". The singular did not cross their minds. The moment when the plural became singular was the most difficult. The pain is unbearable for everyone and especially for their mother who can not enjoy anything because every new milestone refers to the loss. Among other things, my wife had to help our other son not grow up in a family that only mourns. This is a great heroism. If I did not have it I could not do it.