Friday, July 29, 2005

Can't stop watching local news

Image hosted by This is an intersection that I cross daily. Some days several times. The accident site is so close that we heard all the sirens. A fully-loaded dump truck lost control coming down the mountain (really, a big hill) and hit a bus head on at the intersection located at the bottom of the mountain. A total of 20 vehicles are involved, 4 fatalities confirmed now. Several cars are burned beyond recognition. Link to local news with updates and more photos. Close up of above photo. You're looking at the front of the tourist bus and several burnt cars: Image hosted by


  • At 7/29/2005 10:06:00 PM, Blogger Miko said…

    Oh no. Thank the Goddesses you were not on the road that day. What a nightmare.

  • At 7/30/2005 10:40:00 AM, Blogger Cait said…

    Yeeks. Glad you were nowhere near that. I see stuff like that and my first thoughts are about all the personnel hours for cops, fire, and us. Incidents like that really take an emotional toll on us. Of course, I'm also thinking about the tragedy for many families. A death is like a stone thrown in a pond. It's not just the stone that's affected. The pond is disturbed and there are ever widening ripples.

  • At 7/30/2005 05:48:00 PM, Blogger dawn said…

    Cait, what would your role be in that situation? Would you actually go to the accident scene?

    All the first-hand accounts remark on how calm everyone was. No panic, much shock.

  • At 7/30/2005 09:25:00 PM, Blogger Cait said…

    Yes, a lot of the time, we do go to the accident scene. We deal with victims (live ones, of course), witnesses, whoever is traumatized. We may take family members or other people to the hospital where injured people have been transported. In some sad cases, we may have to notify the next of kin of either death or injury. And in a couple of notable cases, we had to actually do quite a bit of "detective" work to figure out who was killed in an accident, and who the next of kin is to notify. We had one accident that took us three days to track down a next of kin. Then, when the next of kin (an offspring, as I recall) found out he had to pay to transport the body and pay for a funeral, he didn't want to. The ME's office was calling us every few hours and threatening to leave the body in the lobby of our police station if someone didn't come to claim it. When the guy finally did show up to claim the body, he came to the police station and the first thing he asked me was if the car was still drivable. Ackkkkk. And, yes, we occasionally have to view a body to be sure of the ID, because the survivors are definitely going to ask if we are sure it's their loved one and how we know that it is. So, we check with the driver's license to see that the person looks like who's on the DL, and we also look for identifying marks, like scars and tattoos. But, if we can avoid it, we don't look at the body. Often, the police officers or other people who survived the wreck are quite sure of the identity, and that's good enough for us. I'm not really particularly keen about viewing bodies. I'm not squeamish; I just don't see any point if I don't have to.

    By the way, IDing people in traffic accidents is not necessarily a snap. We had a head-on that had two people in one car and one in the other. The one with the lone person burned completely up. We could read the license plate, but, of course, who the car is registered to is not necessarily who is driving. Things can get tricky. And of course, one of our biggest nightmares would be to get the wrong ID and notify someone that their nearest and dearest was dead, when such was not really the case. I mean, that's not the sort of thing that you can undo with "Oops, just kidding."

  • At 7/30/2005 11:21:00 PM, Blogger dawn said…

    Whoa. All of us are lucky that people like you are able to help.

    I mean, I'm a compassionate person, I would do most anything to help...but in those types of situations I'd be working strictly from an emotional standpoint. I don't know how helpful I could be. I'm not at all afraid to speak with people. I'd much rather address a real issue than make small talk. But in a sudden event like this, I can't imagine how I'd react. And then I don't know how it would affect me when the dust settled.

    Once I was the first one on the scene of a bad accident on my front lawn. I was suprised at how much sleep I lost that week. I still don't have any idea if that kid (18ish) survived.


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