Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I See Dead People

I was on my way back to the station at the end of the shift, when I spotted two teenagers lying across the railroad tracks, grinning away, and a little girl standing next to them taking their picture.This is a very busy rail line, and I know from experience that pedestrians and motorists don't always see or hear trains coming.

I don't know if you've ever seen someone hit by a train, but I have. And I've had to pick up the pieces and toss them in a body bag. I absolutely lost my cool. I jumped out of my squad car, ran over, and snatched the oldest boy off the tracks, while screaming at the other two to move. The two oldest, a boy and girl about 16, stood petrified while I did my best Gunnery Sergeant Hartman impersonation. The little one, maybe 7, started crying. I finally cut them loose and they went on their way, shaken but hopefully smarter.

I ain't picking those pieces up again. Not if I can help it.


Anonymous said...

In HS a good friend was an EMT and I saw how it affected him when there was no happy ending on a call or when there was a particularly gruesome accident. It made an impression on me without ever having to see it firsthand. Emergency workers are not automatons - they are humans and you carry some of that horror with you. I was volunteering with the Red Cross during 9/11 and even though I was not working rescue and recovery, handing out clean socks and water still afforded me some sights and sounds I won't forget. If you don't care enough about your own self to avoid stupid risks, do it for the people who will have to clean up the mess you leave behind.

I am so glad you shook them up - hopefully they will tell their friends about it and you will have reached a lot more than 3 kids.

Liz said...

As a photographer, one of my most popular locations had a railway running through it. I often had clients, or their parents, ask about doing photos on the tracks. My answer was always a simple and emphatic "No!" I wanted to go home to my kids that night. And I refused to be responsible for the loss of a life. I can't tell you how many friends/photographers I knew who used that set of tracks. (In the middle of nowhere with no crossings for many miles.)

Richard Lawson said...

Thank you. I have a three-year-old daughter, and I've been collecting "things to teach my daughter" stories. Like, if your phone falls into a freezing river, it's gone. Don't try to retrieve it.

Kids are dumb and think they're immortal. I'm glad cops like you are out there to scare the bejeezus out of them when they do something stupid.

Samantha Cernock said...

Good for you!

Anonymous said...

Officer C, I live in India, and saw this awful news article just days after you posted this.


Some idiot college kids tried to grab a selfie of themselves jumping off the tracks just before the train passes. Some Indian cops now have the job of scraping the bodies of three people off the tracks.