Luigi Fiorillo slammed on the brakes of his delivery truck in a shock reaction to what was happening before his very eyes. That day started like any other day, as he was crossing the Morandi bridge in Genoa, Italy, to distribute goods to retailers on the other side of town. Then he suddenly felt the ground beneath him shake. In a matter of seconds, the bridge just collapsed, taking with it all the vehicles in front of him. His truck would come to a screeching halt only a few metres from the edge of a deep and empty abyss.

He watched in horror as the car that overtook him seconds earlier disappeared into a cloud of dust. As if in an action film, the vehicle fell some fifty metres into the debris. Instinctively, Luigi tried to put his truck into reverse but when a wave of panic swept through him, he simply abandoned his truck without turning off the engine and literally ran for his life. Luigi Fiorillo had just stared death in the face and he wasn’t taking any chances.

This is a true story, which has been reported in the press following the collapse of Morandi bridge. Moments before the bridge started to crumble, it was just like any other day in Genoa. Ordinary people went about their everyday business, others were holidaymakers passing through the town. They would have been unable to foresee the emerging mayhem. Indeed, some would never see the light of day again. For the rest of his life, Luigi Fiorillo will be asking why he got so lucky.

When tragedy strikes, we are all somehow affected by the news, even if it happens on the other side of the world. We are deeply disturbed by images of death and destruction and shudder at the thought of being among the casualties. It shows just how little we can predict the surprises life has in store for us. These moments raise questions about our lifestyle. Should we throw caution to the wind and live as if there was no tomorrow? Or should we focus on our achievements and take up the challenges that lie ahead with more determination?

The image of Luigi Fiorillo’s lonely truck perched on the brink of a gaping hole that was once a busy thoroughfare serves as a reminder that there is nothing to reassure us that we will be given a timely warning when we are at risk. It provides food for thought and begs the question: if tomorrow never comes, are we happy with what we have accomplished and who we have become? The answer to that may require some deep soul-searching and, perhaps, some reflection on our spiritual journey here on this earth.

Whether we like it or not, we are all not long for this world. Indeed, our days were numbered from the moment we were born. As for those persons who plunged fifty metres to their death from the bridge that fateful morning in Genoa, their number was up.