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Location: Sitting inside a TV truck, Somewhere, more then likely in the Southeastern region, United States

I am a grouchy, bald headed old fart filled with opinions and not the least bit shy about sharing them.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I almost killed a child tonight

Ft. Myers, FL - Tonight I came too damn close to hitting and quite probably killing a child with the satellite tuck. I was just pulling the truck out of the parking spaces behind the restaurant that fed me tonight. The child, somewhere between toddler and kindergarten age, came from the right and slightly to the rear of the cab passenger side door, running diagonally across the parking lot. He could not have picked a better approach to remain invisible to me.

At the angle the child approached the truck it was only by pure chance that I saw his head pass through my field of view over the right side of the hood. In that instant he vanished out of view in front of the truck, behind the hood.

I stood on the brakes and clutch. Roughly 30,000 lbs of kinetic energy lurched to a sudden, noisy halt.

A year long second of dread passed...

"Oh my God!" I thought... "Was that a thud or weight shifting on the springs?"

He came back into view on my side of the truck, running around to stop outside my window. He looked up at me smiling. A few seconds later, I began to breath again. My hand shot out and popped the parking brake. My foot came off the brakes, the truck blew off a fantastic quantity of air.

And then the shaking began...

I rolled the window down and asked the child what he wanted. Completely oblivious to how close he came to death, his reply was simple, "Can I see your truck?"

"Where is you mother," I asked.

He basically pointed through the truck, back in the direction he came from. Shaking violently now, I climbed out of the cab and told the child that I cannot show the truck to him without his mother being there. I suggested that we go see her. We made it half way back down the side of the restaurant before mama bear came around the corner looking for her wayward child. She called him and he ran to her.

I told her he ran in front of the truck. She said, "Oh, he really likes big trucks."

By this time papa bear joined us. I explained that I almost didn't see him and it was a very close call. I suggested that maybe she should keep a better hold on him.

"Well, you really shouldn't have a truck that size in a public parking lot," She replied.

Papa bear agreed with her.

Based on attitude and further conversation it seems that in their world, I am at fault here. From their perspective there was absolutely no problem with the fact their 3-4 year old boy took off and no one noticed until I was walking him back to the front of the restaurant. With a major dose of adrenaline coursing through my system it's a miracle my mouth remained under control as long as it did.

During this part of the conversation another couple came around the corner looking for these folks. I asked them to take the child for a walk so I might speak with the parents privately. They did so.

The experiences from years working EMS and then some time with the coroner's office make for excellent reference material when telling stories. Exactly what I said to mama and papa bear is not important. I'm not sure if I could remember it all anyway. I finished with, "And keep always in your heart, there are things worse then being dead. But don't take my word for it, visit the vegetable ward at any hospital and see for yourself."

She looked like she was going to be sick. He looked as if he'd been punched in the stomach. That is the way I left them.

The consequences of not taking that one last glance at the right hand mirror are still running laps around my head tonight. The vision of that child disappearing from sight under the hood plays unbidden through my mind at random intervals. Maybe writing all this out will capture that demon so I can get some sleep.


"There but for the grace of God..."
- Just about everyone who's had a close shave.

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