A Death Witnessed


I was looking over some of the art of Ron DiCianni when I came across the picture of a Para-medic with suggestions of the parable of the Good Samaritan in the background.

This reminded me of an experience which my daughter Lauren had while driving after dark about two winters ago. She was proceeding north on King Street Waterloo and approaching an underpass just before the freeway by Conestoga Mall, when she noticed a pick-up truck above seeming to climb the guard rail. Alarmingly close to the overpass, she saw the truck airborne and upside down falling to King Street in her very lane.

Lauren relates that the event almost appeared to be happening in slow motion. By reflex she changed lanes, drove past the wreck and made a U-turn as soon as possible to come back to the scene. Other motorists had stopped and a cell phone had been used for emergency help. Lauren could see the driver in the badly squashed cab and she attempted to make eye contact in the poor light. The young man appeared to be conscious and pinned. He mumbled something which she could not interpret. She then tried to tell him that help was on the way and that a number of people were there with him and were hoping for the best. No further comment or movement from him.

A courteous tap on the shoulder alerted her to the fact that the paramedics had arrived. She went to join the other motorists and observed one para-medic effecting some very unlikely contortions to get close to the victim and minister first-aid. This was the situation for about fifteen minutes, but then the rescuer emerged, shaking his head and calling for the others to extract the corpse.

Strangely enough a constable approached my daughter and asked if she worked for the press. She replied in the negative and began to relate her recollection of the accident.

The constable suspected that Lauren might be in shock, she having passed most closely under the tumbling truck. He also made some recommendations about post-trauma services available from the force.

In his own words: 'This had been a bad one. The para-medic had struggled valiantly and longer than usual to save a victim in that condition. He had had experience of frightening flash backs from other horrible accidents, and cautioned my daughter to take care and not to be reluctant to make use of available help.'

What a load these professionals are expected to carry! All in a day's job. Help the victim; battle for a life; control the crowd; caution the traffic; comfort attending friends or witnesses; complete the paper work. What an amazing mix of courage, compassion and competence.

Thank God our daughter was safe. Thank God for these public servants. At any moment as they go about their business they may be placed before a wounded one at the side of the road. Good Samaritans indeed.

(Picture by Ron DiCianni)

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