I think every cop has had the experience while working an incident of coming to the realization that something is personal. Mine was on an early December morning about 15 years ago. I was working a radio car on a day tour. My first radio job, about 6 a.m., was to respond to a motor vehicle accident in the east end of my sector. Cops never really know what to expect when responding to a scene. This one was a fatality.
Upon arriving on scene, I observed a car stopped in the road’s eastbound lane, a body some distance forward of the vehicle. While approaching the body, I noticed the vehicle was vacant with a caved-in windshield. Getting to the body, a male, I realized there was nothing I could do. His head was crushed, his skull split open and parts of his brain were on the roadway. It was then I noticed a man sitting on the curb opposite the car; he was the vehicle’s operator.
Obviously, I had to get the driver’s information and a statement, but he was beside himself with horror and grief. He was wearing a jacket on which the right sleeve was sprinkled with the deceased’s brain matter. He hadn’t notice yet, and my job was to keep his attention on me until EMS arrived. I knew if he saw what was on his sleeve, I would lose him altogether.
I was able to get from him that he was blinded by the rising sun and never saw the man running across the road. Witnesses told me the deceased was one of a group of people who worked a midnight shift at a nearby business who were running to catch a city bus. They also told me the people turned around, watched the man get hit and then continued to get on the bus and leave. Human behavior never surprises a cop.
Other units and EMS were now on the scene as I turned my attention to identifying the decedent. While checking the body, I recovered his driver’s license. His date of birth was December 10, which was also the date of the accident, so he died on the date of his birth. What was personal for me was that December 10 was also my father’s birthdate. He was also killed in a car accident.