The winter blizzard was wreaking havoc all over town. The wind was blowing so hard, I had lost my hat the second I stepped foot out my door. It took me fifteen minutes to brush the snow off my car only to run inside and grab warmer mittens and return to my car buried again.
But, off to work I went. Visibility down to nothing and Main Street looked like a ghost town.
Work was about 30 minutes away, but with this weather it would take at least an hour probably more.
I had a steady pace going when a tan minivan pulled out in front of me. He fishtailed and sprayed salt at my windshield.
I lightly pressed my breaks to not fishtail off the road and lifted my foot of the gas so I could coast and put some space between the minivan and myself.
The van gained traction and took off. The speed blowing the snow off the top the driver apparently hadn't brush off.
He slowed down and took a right onto McGail Street and so did I. He was heading into the city too.
Except, he accelerated too much for the road conditions. The plows haven’t been through in hours and the roads were too slick for speeds like that.
He keep speeding up, his back end swerving and trying to gain traction on the 2 feet of snow underneath them. The car swerved into the other lane, and back into his lane. He didn’t show signs of stopping. The snow kept blowing into the windshield making it hard to see if the van was still in front of me or not.
Then I saw it.
Taillights bright red like an angry monster staring at me from inside a snow bank.
I quickly pulled over and set my flashers so no one else went off the road. My heart started to beat faster and I realized what I had just witnessed.
I got out and ran over to the van. Snow was thick and wet all the way up to my knees. Cold seeped in.
But, when I had set my eyes on the driver everything seemed to stop. The wind stopped, the trees creaking in the nearby tree line stopped and the water rushing in the creek seemed to stop. I could hear my heart beating in my head. I thought I was going to puke.
Shattered glass surrounded the driver side door making it easy to see right into the car.
He was half slumped over the arm rest. If I hadn’t known better I’d just say he was sleeping. But, the guardrail impaled into his gut and the blood gushing down his body and pooling at his feet told me otherwise.
I suddenly started to panic and reach for my cell phone in my coat pocket. I dialed 911 at the same time I braceed myself and ran over to the body. I felt his neck for a pulse nothing. I shook him a little to get something.. anything… nothing.
“911, what is your emergency”?
“Hi, my name is Lucy and I am on….” Uh oh where am I. Think. Breathe “I am on McGail Street in between umm the Hegemon Farm and Railroad Street heading toward the city.”
“Ok. “ The dispatcher says calmly. “What happened? How can we help”?
“A minivan went off the road in front of me and the driver is…. Oh shit..."
I realized the driver wasn’t alone. It felt time stop again. I forgot I was even on the phone, but could hear dispatch slowly getting louder trying to get my attention.
There were two little boys in car seats unconscious, pinned in the backseat.
I put the phone on speaker and through it on the dash.
“The driver is a male about 40s and gone. There are two boys in the back seat.” I regained my cool. These boys need me. The ambulance would take too long to get here. If, they were still alive.
I moved to the right side of the van away from the road. The door was smashed shut and the handle had broken off. I looked around. I needed to get into that car.
I found a tree branch in the tree line that had some girth to it. I put the butt end of it up to the window and pounded it. It cracked. I pounded again and I heard a little moan coming from inside. I ran back to the left side where the front window was broken. I saw the smallest boy was waking up. He looked maybe 3 or 4.
I realized the boy was in direct line with the dead man. If he opened his eyes and saw him, it would scar him forever. I would know.
“Hey, honey. Can you hear me”? I said as calmly as I could.
I heard a low grumble and then watery blue eyes started to open.
“Hey, honey. My name is Lucy and help is on the way. Can you keep your eyes closed for me please? Shut them real tight and I’ll let you know when to open them ok”?
He shut them tight and started a soft sob.
I told dispatch there are two boys about 3 and 6 in the back seat. One was awake and one was still unconscious. She said with the weather and all the cars of the road help would take some time.
I remembered I had blankets and coats in the back of my car. I ran back to my car, grabbed them and wafted through the growing snowbanks.
“Hey, honey. You are doing great.” I said as I draped the biggest of the blankets over the now turning purple guy in the front seat.
“Ok, look at me. You can open your eyes.” I said with a chipper but, rushed voice. He opened his beautiful, innocent eyes and looked at me worried, but still not aware of what’s going on.
“I am going to hand this coat to you ok? Can you take it and cover your head with it? Can you do that for me”? I said.
He had given me a small nod and reached for the coat. He fumbled for a minute and then he snuggled into it.
“Ok, now I want you to close your eyes again for me and open them back up when I say.” I started to run over to the other side of the car where I had started to break the window.
I unburied the log I was using and started pounding the window again. On the third attempt it shattered.
The boy was covered in the glass, but the coat retained most of it.
“Ok, honey. You can open your eyes now. What’s your name”? I say as I carefully grab the coat and shake off the glass in the snow by my feet.
“Tommy” he said cheerfully.
“Tommy, well that’s a perfect name. I like it. Tell ya what I am going to do Tommy. I am going to unbuckle you and take you out to my car ok? We have to get you out of the cold and work on your brother. What’s his name”? I said as I began to unbuckle the mangled seat belt. Sticks, snow and wind blew through the open windows making every second colder and colder.
“My brother is Jack” the boy said as he rubbed his head.
“Ok Tommy, I am going to lift you up ok? Hold tight onto me and don’t touch your head ok”? I said as I look at his bloodied forehead. He nodded and laid his head on my shoulder as if he’s going down for a nap and was too tired to fight.
I lifted him up and wrap him back in the coat to block the wind. I marched through the snow and get to my car that I had left running. I opened the door and a wall of heat hit us like a welcomed hug.
“Ok Tommy. I am going to let you sit in the front seat and warm up ok? I have to go help Jack. Sit here and rest ok? Don’t touch your head. I know it hurts. Help is coming. Do you know where your mom is”? I asked kindly to not to scare him.
“We don’t have a mommy.” He said plainly.
“You don’t have a mommy”? I said taken back. “Who told you that”?
“The man that was driving, he said Mommy was gone and we go with him.”
My mind started racing with all the different possibilities of the situation. Were they abducted? Was that why he was driving so fast? Was it just an angry custody battle thing? I had no idea, but something was not right. I shut the door and raced back to the car.
I told dispatch the status of everyone and what Timmy had told me. The dispatcher said help was on their way, but it would still be a little longer.
My hands were starting to go numb but, Jack needed me. With Tommy out of his seat, I could crawl to the other side and check on Jack.
When I got back in the car, I could see that Jack’s hands were starting to turn purple with frost bite. I grabbed my gloves I had thrown off earlier to get Tommy and start to put them on Jack, but when I pull the gloves on I see rope marks on his wrists.
More thoughts raced through my head. What was happening to these boys? Who was this man in the front seat?
It didn’t matter. Jack didn't have much time left in this cold. I needed to get him back to my car.
An eerie feeling set in like fog on a humid, rainy day as I began to rescue Jack.
I started pulling the debris off of his lap and uncovered the worst case possible. The front seat had been pushed back into Jack’s leg breaking the one that I could see and hopefully just missing the other one, but I wouldn’t know until I got him out of there.
How do you move someone with broken legs? How do I move the front seat with the dead man still in it?
I reminded myself to breathe. Stay calm. These boys need me and I can’t waste any time with stupid ideas.
I went back into the tree line and looked for another thick log. One thicker on one end and thinner on the other.
I ran back through the heavy snow and wedged it between Jack’s seat the the driver’s seat and started to pull it forward toward the driver’s seat. Like a pry bar. If I could wedge the seat forward a little bit, I could lift Jack straight up out of his seat.
The front seat didn’t move. Crap. I tried again. It only moved a little. I had an idea. I ran back to my car and pulled out the small rope I had in my trunk.
I got back in the car and tied the rope to one side and began to pull again. The seat moved just enough and I tied the other end of the string to the steering wheel to hold it in place.
But, before I am done tying it off I heard a blood hurling scream come out of Jack.
The release of pressure probably woke him up.
“Hi, Jack. I know you are in a lot of pain, but help is on the way. I am trying to get you out of the cold. Can you do something for me”?
Tears streamed down his face and his white bones popped through his small denim pants. He nodded his head.
“You know your abcs’ right? Can you sing them to me as loud as you can and don’t stop until I say ok? It’s gonna hurt, but just keep singing. Can you do that”?
He nodded and started singing through the tears.
“That’s it. Keep going.” I said hoping I can get him through the worst day of his life.
I spotted the corner of sweatshirt in the back seat. I climbed over the seat and grabbed it. Looks like it was the older man’s not the boys’. I started to wrap it around Jack’s broken leg to hold it in place. As I touched his knee right above the broken bone he lets out another scream. It startled me and I jumped back.
“I know this is going to hurt real badly. Just keep singing as loud as you can so I don’t forget my abcs ok”?
He started to sing again. “A, B, C, D, E, F, G…”
I had to do it quick and get it over with. I grabbed the body of the sweatshirt and laid it over Jack’s shin. I took the two arms and swiftly crossed them behind his calf. I glanced up to see Jack singing and looking out the window and not at what was about to happen.
“”..W, X, Y and Z . Now you know your abc, Next time…. Owwwwwwwwwww.” He screamed and cried harder than I have ever seen anyone cry.
I tied the sweatshirt arms in the front of his shins as tight as I could. Blood quickly started to seep through the sweatshirt.
“Good job. That’s it. I am all done. Let’s get you out of here ok.”? I said like a seasoned nurse who saw this all the time.
I could hear the rope and the pressure of the log slipping every minute we wait. The rope was going to snap and send the front seat back into his legs if I didn’t get him out of there.
“Alright, I am going to lift you straight up ok” And were going to go sit with Tommy in my car and warm up. “He was losing blood fast and I could see it in his face.
Under the consistent sobs he nodded and braced for the pain again.
I wrapped his arms around my neck when I kneeled next to him. I stood up and he slowly started to come with me. His crying got louder, and I felt my own tears rolling down my face.
It had to be quick again or it will just put him through more pain. I told him to hold tight and close his eyes.
I grabbed him underneath his thighs and quickly stood up pulling his legs out from the trap.
He let out another scream that this time didn’t show signs of stopping.
I ran to my car and whipped open the back door. With wet tears dripping down my neck from both Jack and I, I threw whatever I had in the backseat on to the floor and lay Jack down on his back across the seats.
Tommy was in the front seat staring blankly at us and sucking his thumb.
Underneath Jack’s screams I had almost missed the sounds of the ambulance pulling up behind my car.
It’s was about time. I dropped to me knees in the deep snow and begin to cry.
The first responders swept the scene with backboards and neck braces and started working on the dead body and Jack.
I grabbed ahold of Tommy and let one the medics search him over before clearing him. I held him with a new found bond and refused to let him go.
I asked if I could ride in the ambulance with Jack to the hospital. He had no family here and I felt a sense of responsibility to see him through until family came for him.
They sedated Jack to ease the pain and put his leg in a stint. They loaded him up and I was right behind him every step.
In the back of the ambulance the medic unwrapped the sweatshirt. I looked away embarrassed and said” It was all I had, did it make it worse”?
“No.” said the paramedic shocked.” You saved his life. He would have lost too much blood or froze if you hadn’t saved him.” He smiled.
I hugged Tommy tighter and smiled. Tommy was sucking his thumb still and the car ride was putting him to sleep.
The medic begins to speak again. “The dispatcher heard everything. You left her on speaker. You were amazing. They wouldn’t be here without you.” He said smiling and nodding toward the two boys.
I had forgotten about the dispatcher. I had thrown my phone on the dash in the very beginning and forgot all about it. My adrenaline kicked in and I had just forgot I guess.
As the ambulance pulled up to the emergency dock and a team of doctors opened the doors up. We hopped out and were blinded by the ambulance and police lights flashing all around us.
Sensing my confusion, the medic leaned in and said “Wait till you hear the story on these boys. You were right, the man was not their father…”
To be continued…
Author Notes: Second half coming soon. Let me know what you think!