Remembering my twenty-eight years as a police officer on the Omaha Police Department one of the oddest traffic cases that I ever experienced was in the early ‘70s. I remember it was the early ‘70s because we didn’t wear bulletproof vests yet. I was the first to arrive to an accident at 132nd and Dodge which back then was past the city limits of
Omaha. On the northwest corner a dilapidated old Victorian era home housed an infamous prostitute once beautiful but now ravaged by drugs and alcohol. When I arrived I saw nothing shocking. A Volkswagen had hit the rear bumper of a semi-truck. The driver of the Volkswagen must have been going no more than ten mph. The semi-truck driver was extremely disturbed. While waving his arms he explained to me that he didn’t do anything illegal, and that he followed the law by calling us right away. He told me the other guy must be drunk or on drugs or something like that. I told him to settle down and I’d take his story latter. I finally walked over to the passenger side of the Volkswagen window and looked inside to find a perfectly healthy man in his twenties slumped over his wheel. I checked his vitals and found no signs of life. I immediately called an ambulance. His clothes were cut off and he was laid naked out on a metallic table. As I expected there were no signs of visible injuries. It was when he was put through the X-ray scanner that the mystery was solved. Stuck half way down his throat was his dashboard cigarette lighter from his car. Somehow the collision created enough force to eject it. Even more incredible is that it made that one in a million dollar voyage down his wind pipe. It reminded me of a cop I knew who stepped on a beer can and bleed out from the cut on his foot. It took him seventeen minutes to die.
Later I told my partner what had happened and he laughed out loud. He than proceeded to apologize to himself but couldn’t hide his amusement with what he had just heard. This was also a man who served two tours in
Vietnam and just came back from a three car pile up with two fatalities.
“It’s seems incredible, astronomical.” He said. “But things like this happen every day. You take a shower and step in the tube then slip on a bar of soap. Fall and bash your head into the faucet and then you’re dog meat.”
“I don’t like thinking about those kinds of things. I like thinking about my wife and my soon to be daughter.” My wife Carol was at home pregnant with our first born child. That night on the way home to from work I drove extra cautiously on my way home from work. My wife was asleep. I fell asleep beside her. Latter that night I recalled having a terrible recurring nightmare where I was re-enlisting for another four years in the Air Force.
All rights belong to its author. It was published on e-Stories.org by demand of John Crowley. Published on e-Stories.org on 04/11/2011.