I’m sort of loathe to hit publish on this.
I’ve been feeling sort of blah this week, and I don’t really know why. I’m not down or anything, just indifferent I guess, especially towards blogging. Maybe it’s all the snow and cold, who knows?
This post is a total buzzkill, so if you’re looking for a laugh, please turn away as there are none to be had here today. There’s not really a point to it, other than writing makes me feel a little better, like I’m accomplishing something, so there’s that.
Almost all of the information below, along with both pictures, came from the St. Louis Post Dispatch articles written about the same thing.
On an otherwise typical May afternoon in 2010 , two St. Louis area men were driving in separate cars along a road that parallels a river that basically separates the City from the County here in St. Louis. This particular river, the River Des Peres, varies in water depth almost daily. It could be bone dry in the morning, only to have its banks swelled with running water later in the day, after a good rain storm.
On this particular day, the river was fairly deep.
The two men, one just returning to work from his lunch break, and the other unemployed, both noticed what they recognized as a car protruding from the river. It was obvious to them that the car had just left the road and gone into the water.
The water is murky and cold, but both men react by pulling over and jumping into the river to free the driver, if they can. A police officer arrives and the three of them are able to pull the driver from the river, still alive, to waiting paramedics.
The men are understandably excited from adrenalin rushing through their bodies while talking to officers about what they saw and what they did.
Divers from the fire department arrive at the scene to do what they do.
About a half hour later, as the men are still talking on the banks of the river, they are suddenly deflated to see fire fighters and paramedics emerge from the river with one more casualty.
A sheet over anything at a crime scene almost always means death. The bulging shape under the sheet is immediately recognizable to people who see it as being a car seat.
All the adrenalin that had folks amped up just seconds before is sucked right from their insides and is discarded as gasps of disbelief out of their mouths.
The baby in the car seat was seven months old.
The car seat was strapped into the back seat of the car and was impossible to see under the murky water. Even so, the men can’t help but question themselves about what more they could have done.
The driver of the car was the boy’s young father. He would die two weeks later as a result of this accident.
Months later, while receiving one of several awards from the community for their heroic efforts in trying to help a total stranger whose life was in danger, the two men are still clearly affected by this incident.
One man has generally avoided the media on purpose, while the other granted interviews and admitted that he still has nightmares about the drowning and has panic attacks or otherwise simply becomes overwhelmed by his feelings.
In some respects, police officers and firefighters are lucky that there are always other calls like this that will need to be handled. Whereas the two civilian men may never find themselves in another situation where they could save a life, emergency workers will, and have the luxury of forgetting past “failures” and putting forth our best efforts to “win” the next time. There isn’t time to worry about what could have been.
I very rarely think back to any incident I handled and worry about what I could have done differently. I would generally just swallow my feelings about an emotional incident, have a few beers after work maybe, and then move on with life. Occasionally, I’d talk about it with my wife or another cop, if they were there too, but not very often.
For whatever reason, the scene described above has been on my mind, off and on, for three years. I got choked up a little bit even revisiting the incident today. I wasn’t at this scene and had nothing to do with any of it. I know the officer who jumped in to try to save the driver, but I’ve never asked him about it once. I meant to send him a message to tell him I was proud of his efforts, but I don’t even think I did that. Maybe I kept thinking about it because when this happened, G$ was just a few months older than the baby who died and I was reminded of it every time I saw G$ strapped in his car seat. Maybe it was because that location was so close to where I lived and I’ve driven past it thousands of times in my life. Maybe it’s because not long after this boy died, another child was found dead across the street in the same area. He was allegedly killed by his own mother, who faked an abduction to try to cover the crime. It’s normally such a quiet area, so these events were strange occurrences.
The world can seem like such a cold and shitty place. Turn on the news and it’s one story after another about things like this or about people hurting other people.
That stuff sells, and I get that, but it can be overwhelmingly negative and deflating after a while.
Maybe my mind keeps reminding me of this terrible incident because on one otherwise typical May afternoon, in my little part of the world, two strangers risked their lives to try to save another stranger from dying. That sort of thing happens a lot, really. A lot of people do like to help other people.
That doesn’t sell as well as death and hate; I get that.
Actually, no, I don’t get that. I can read about good Samaritan stories all day long.
Surely, I’m not the only one, am I?