Monday, May 18, 2015

Wasting A Second Chance

Prologue: Imagine a chain link fence. Take away the chain link, and you're left with a series of vertical posts sticking up out of the ground. Resting horizontally atop those posts is a tube, which is the top rail of the fence. The top rail consists of one or more continuous lengths of galvanized steel, each of which may be up to 30 feet long.

One evening a call came out for an overturned vehicle just a few blocks from me. This was on a long straight 2-lane road in an industrial area, with a ditch on each side. I was on scene in about 2 minutes, with other cops, fire and ambulance still en route. It was about 15 below zero.

Across the ditch in a flat area was an older Dodge van, resting on its roof. The driver and one passenger had been ejected, and were lying in the dirt, largely unresponsive. There were no obvious wounds that I could treat, so I let them be for the moment. The other passenger was still in the front passenger seat inside the upside down van. My first thought was, wow - that seat belt did a fantastic job. Then I realized what I was looking at.

The van had been traveling about 70 mph in a 35 mph zone. All the occupants were huffing Dust-Off. The driver blacked out, crossed the center line, went down in the ditch, up the other side, and then went airborne. The van then came down on top of a very long chain link fence, and actually slid along the top of it for some distance before falling off and rolling over on its roof.

In the process of sliding along the top of the fence, the top rail punched through the front of the van. It continued through the radiator, engine compartment, and firewall, then entered the passenger compartment. There, it penetrated the front passenger's thigh just above the knee. This 2-inch diameter steel pipe then  traveled the length of the passenger's thigh near the femur, and exited his right buttock. The top rail continued its journey through the back of the passenger seat, the back seat, and the rear door. The metal pipe had passed through the entire length of the van, including one person, and the broken ends were still sticking out the front and back of the van.

The passenger was, in effect, "pinned" like a bug in a bug collection to his seat by the pipe that had slammed through him. I couldn't believe my eyes. I'm not sure, at first, that even the passenger realized what his predicament was.

Finally, fire and ambulance arrived. Everyone was wide-eyed at what was in front of them. While ambulance dealt with the driver and the passenger on the ground, fire did the only thing they could do: they started cutting through the top rail as close as they could to the entrance and exit wounds. I'll spare you the audio from the passenger. It was horrific. They finally got him out of there and off to the hospital.

All three survived.

Epilogue: A year or two later I was sent to a physical domestic. Guess who? He was sponging off his mother and had slapped her around during an argument over groceries. We talked briefly about the accident, and he showed me scars from that night. It was about as bad as you'd imagine. Then I hauled him off to jail.


Anonymous said...

After surviving an accident and injury that severe, I think I would have had an epiphany that I was spared for some divine reason and then turned my life around to be a law-abiding God-fearing mother worshiping man; but that's me, not this turd.

rapnzl rn said...

And to think, we wasted the best of our life-saving and life-protecting technology on this (expletives deleted) mother-beater (and worse).

There are times when I hate that our professions cannot discriminate. Still, I am immensely grateful for what you do in yours.

Anonymous said...

Stuff like that happens more frequently than most realize.