The Screams

A Uniform Stories Post

Uniform StoriesThis post originally appeared on the Uniform Stories website and is reprinted here with their permission.

There are certain things that stay with you in this job. You’ll always remember your first fight. Your first pursuit. Your first arrest. There are other things that simply blend together into a blur or an amalgamation of multiple stories that bleed into one another. And then there are the things that are crystal clear. The memories you couldn’t cleanse yourself of if you tried.

There are the screams. For me, there are (so far) two.

I’ve spent over half of my career assigned to the traffic unit as a motor officer. My primary function is investigating collisions and writing citations. I’m also assigned to the fatal/major injury collision team. It’s got a silly name. I’ve long thought it should be renamed the Fatal Accident Response Team. I’ve never gotten much support from the Powers That Be on that one. Alas, I soldier on.

About seven years ago, we got called out to a fatal collision near a local college. Never before, nor since, have I seen such destruction. It looked like a scene from Fallujah. This car was absolutely destroyed. It looked like it had hit a roadside bomb and disintegrated.

As a new member of the reconstruction team at the time, I had the duty of holding the prism pole (a job we affectionately refer to as the “pole monkey” because a monkey could accomplish the task) as we forensically mapped the scene with our total station. That day I marked over 87 points of body evidence. The teenaged female driver had been ripped apart and we were able to identify 87 different parts of her body. Including a de-gloved calf.

You probably shouldn’t google that term.

As we were wrapping up the scene, her mom arrived on scene. How or why, I’ll never know. I do, however, know that I will never forget the pain, anguish and blood-curdling heartbreak that reverberated off of every object within a one block radius as this mother of a beautiful, young woman let loose a caterwaul so powerful it resides in my memory.

To read the rest of the post, please click through to the original post on Uniform Stories…

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

15 thoughts on “The Screams

  1. The scream (cry) I most remember most is when the mom of a 27 day old infant arrived on scene after baby daddy had shaken said infant to death due to crying loud enough he couldn’t watch Oprah (I can tell you the date and time that occurred as well)

  2. The morning of my 30th birthday, working graveyards getting ready to go on 3 days off and called to a vehicle off the freeway in Hayward on I580. We found the accident and we saw one body laying in a washout curb on the on ramp. The girl turned her head and said, “Please my god help me.” I was an EMT too. I worked setting two tourniquets on her. The car landed upside down on the guardrail and rode it, ripping the car apart. 4 occupants, two decaps, one survived, and the one I worked on died several days later. While at the hospital, and before law enforcement Chaplains were around, the Sergeant told me to make the next of kin notification because he was busy. It was my first time. The screams, the deep hurt, and their reactions. It will always be with me. I have screams, but this one stands out the most.

  3. This broke my heart – again. For those reading this post, please pray not only for the first responders, please pray for their families. MC is correct that these memories do not fade. They can and do come home with them. They can severely impact the spouse and offspring if not dealt with when necessary. This is one very specific reason marriages are broken. So, I ask again that you pray for the first responder AND his/her family. Thank you, MC’s Mom

  4. I don’t know if my experience counts but I have one…..it was a female who had locked herself in the bathroom. I was on the phone with her, she blurted out her address and then screamed like I’ve never heard anyone scream before…her husband stabbed her while on the phone with me….i found out later he stabbed her multiple times. To know i heard someone’s last breath took me a long time to get over

  5. Was a CSO, bad accident (remember the 680 / 24 flyover, the deep downgrade, sb 680)…. Truck plowed into the back of a big rig… I was the first on scene due to CHP being slammed.. It was raining…. Driver was screaming in pain… His legs crushed… I remember holding c-spine cause there was nothing else I could do. It wasent his screams, it was him saying he didn’t want to die, he wanted to live life, see his daughter again…… He kept asking me ” I’m gonna die aren’t I?” Fire and CHP arrived… To this day I have no clue what ever happened…. It bothers me to not know what happened. But then again, not knowing it ok.

  6. I’m a cops wife, married 24 years, he’s been on the job for 25 years and counting. I have never heard the screams myself but I can tell you, you can feel it in their presence the minute the garage door opens and see it on his face when he walks through the door. The heaviness, the sadness, the hurt, the pain it’s indescribable for them. Thank God not every call is a scream call but it goes through waves. He always says “…there are calls that you just never forget….if it doesn’t bother you, something is wrong with you.”

    I’m proud of my wonderful LEO, and all the officers that stand beside him. It’s never been easy being an officer but now a days it’s even harder. I pray for safety, protection and peace for all of our men and women in uniform!

  7. My plattoon returned from a foot patrol in afghan and id barley got my gear off and walked into the aid station at our FOB when my Lt walked in and said doc I think this kid needs help. In staggers a five year old with 2nd and 3rd degree burns wich covered most of his face neck chest and right arm. The screams that poor kid let out shook my soul.

  8. When first reading this and still now it breaks your heart and I am only reading it. I didn’t see or hear or go through what you have gone through. You and other commenters are amazing people. Thank you.

  9. It has been 5 years and I can still see and hear a suicide, lady jumped off a 8 story garage bounced about a foot off the ground she lived for about a min after that I was looking her in the eyes as she took her last breath, the worst thing is no matter what I could not do anything to help her, that is 1 of many I will never forget I just wish people understood the pain we go threw

  10. While the Chaplain can’t, in confidentiality, state a specific event….I have heard many….and I know there will be many more. Praises to God that He is shielding my heart….bless all you L.E. and fire/rescue guys who hear it so much more often than I. My prayer is that He also protect your hearts. Amen.

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