For most, dealing with the death of a loved one is very difficult to handle.
Dealing with the death of a stranger can be just as harrowing.
Over the weekend, three friends and I took a road trip towards the coastal town of Tofino, of Vancouver Island’s south-west coast, to escape the monotony of our stressful and taxing training.
We departed towards the highway at 4am, in high spirits and brimming with hot coffee. Conversation, humour and being awed by the natural splendour consumed our time, until our serenity was interrupted.
A doe, hidden along the side of the road, leaped in front of us.
Despite attempting to avoid the collision and applying the brakes as hard as possible, we struck the animal on the hood of the car, it limped away and died alone in the bushes. After coming back to our senses and assessing the damage (dented hood and broken headlight covering), the insurance/rental companies were notified and we continued on our journey; pensive but calm.
Several kilometres up the deserted highway, we observed a Harley-Davidson rider slam into a concrete median; having his motorcycle flip over the protective shoulder barrier and shatter onto the rocks of the ditch. The rider was thrown into the air and propelled head first onto the asphalt; sliding along the road for
Being the only other vehicle in the area (along with the motorcyclist’s friend on a separate Harley), we pulled over to the shoulder of the road and ran at breakneck speed towards the victim, clearing the centre barrier with ease.
Acting with instinct, we divided what needed to be done:
“Bailey, go down the road 100m. Slowdown and direct any traffic around the collision scene”.
“Li, call 911 and inform them about where we are and what’s occurred”.
Grande and I went towards the victim.
Grande proceeded to determine if the victim was conscious and the seriousness of his injuries.
I stabilized the body to prevent him from moving; and joined Grande in calming his friend down, while attempting to discover as much as we could on what had just happened; who the man was, how fast he was
going, and so on.
We all remained eerily calm and professional throughout the ordeal (I attribute this to the excessive stress and exercises we have been subjected to during our career training).
Once the paramedics arrived on the scene, all my other senses woke up and my brain appeared to work in a higher gear in order to catch up with what surrounded me.
The victim was unconscious.
His fingers on his left hand were occasionally twitching.
For the first couple of minutes when we arrived, his breathing was extremely deep and raspy (we were later informed this was due to a lung puncture).
His body had the look of a deflated balloon due to all the tears in his ligaments and bone fractures.
Having his head protected only with a half-helmet; his face was unrecognizable, blood was continually pouring out of his nose, mouth and ears, and a 5m long thick streak of blood marked the path from where his head collided with the road to where he ultimately lay.
The victim was ultimately pronounced dead.
Paramedics and police acquired the necessary information, we were dismissed and continued on our trip.
On Monday, we were highly commended on our actions from our superiors, in front of our entire group of peers. Pats on the back, firm handshakes and curious questions enveloped us.
I feel proud of how we acted in the situation but confused.
Within seconds, the victim’s image had dropped from a powerful man, on a powerful vehicle, to a crushed and shambled mess of bones, flesh, leather and jeans.
I ride motorcycles, and operate them carefully, but would I ever be placed in a similar situation myself? What would come of it?
How will this impact my future dealings with death?
Will I be desensitized or is my heart and soul still intact?
I hope that whoever the man was, his life was precious to him and he loved and was loved by those close to him.