Spirit of the Badge

Bizarre Weather
When I was a brand-new recruit at the New Buffalo Post I was assigned to work with Larry Boger. Trooper Boger was a short, stocky, stubborn, older man with a gruff voice, deep lines on his face, gray hair, and a cigarette in his mouth. He was my training officer. He was the epitome of what we call "old school." I was green and shy.

 

We were having coffee at the local gas station when dispatch requested assistance on a train/pedestrian accident. Train/pedestrian accidents are usually fatal, so my heart started pounding. I had never been to a serious accident before.
We arrived at the train tracks in the area where a pedestrian was supposed to have been hit by the train. We didn’t see anything immediately. It was a sunny winter day and the sky was blue. Larry advised, "Take your time and walk carefully down the tracks." (Larry always sauntered to my fast pace.)  As he grabbed the radio prep from the patrol car, I got out. These were the days when you had to have a "repeater" in the patrol car for the hand-held radio to work, and sometimes reception was poor.

We stopped on the tracks. Larry was not overly excited, so I tried to copy his behavior. They always said in recruit school that new troopers are reflections of their training officers .. I wanted to act cool, stay relaxed, and be just like him. Larry suddenly stopped. I thought to myself, Oh my God, but Larry remained calm. Larry put his cigarette in his mouth, took a puff, and slowly blew the smoke out. Then he said matter-of-factly into the prep, "Central dispatch, we got a leg."My heart was racing but I pretended to be calm. We continued walking down the track.
Larry stopped, put his cigarette in his mouth, and took another puff. He looked up into the sky, and this time he blew smoke rings. He said into the prep, "Central, we got us an arm." His voice was monotone, and he seemed undaunted. We continued walking. Then he came to an abrupt stop. Larry had spotted something in the snow bank. He took another puff of his cigarette and said, "Central, we got us a torso now." The snow was so bright I had to adjust my eyes. I was trying hard to see what he was looking at. In shock, I said, "Oh, okay, now I can see him!" I thought, Wow, how does Larry stay so calm? I don’t know if I can ever be like him!
Larry looked at me and like a teacher, said, "Now young man, walk over there and see if he’s alive. Check and see if you can get a pulse." I was so sheepish! The torso lay motionless, its head partially facedown in the snow bank. It was probably one h undred feet from the train track. I thought, Holy mackerel, that poor guy had to be hit pretty hard to be laying way over there! As I approached the torso, I could feel myself hyperventilating. I was scared. I had never seen a dead body in this condition before. My pulse pounded in my neck. Very slowly and cautiously I extended two fingers towards his neck to check for a pulse.

Suddenly, the man swung his body around, his face only inches from my nose, and blurted out, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING, BOY? CALL ME AN AMBULANCE!" The man’s eyeballs were nearly popped out of the sockets, like a freak at a Halloween party. I could almost touch the whites of his eyes! I let out a shriek, jumped back nearly ten feet, and landed flat on my ass in the snow! Yes, it was a sight Larry and I never forgot.

The train had pushed and dragged the man at such a high rate of speed that his limbs were cut and thrown from the track in different directions. The man’s limbs were severed so quickly and it was so cold outside that his blood coagulated and the man survived.

Two months later, I stopped him on the roadway for speeding. He proceeded to show me his prostheses! He was delighted to see me and enthusiastically said, "Thank you so much for helping me! See? I got a new arm and a new leg and I can drive!" I decided not to give him a ticket. Somehow it just didn’t seem appropriate.

 

 

 

Synchronistic events offer us perceptions that may be useful in our psychological and spiritual growth and may reveal to us, through intuitive knowledge, that our lives have meaning.
-- Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD,
The Tao of Psychology, p.7