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Of lives lost, and faith in humanity shattered

Original post made by M, Downtown, on Aug 10, 2009


A handful of years have passed but the memory is still fresh in my mind. It was a cool October (if memory serves me) night and I was out for a drive, to clear my head having just finished a long project. I was returning home, driving down Stanley. I noticed in the distance what appeared to be a vehicle facing the wrong way on the road, and a second vehicle with its hazard lights on. I slowed down as I approached the scene which in reality was a automobile wreck. The scene consisted of a street sweeper with hazard lights on stopped dead in its tracks along the side of the road, and a while suburban facing the wrong way looking directly at the street sweeper. The suburban was mangled the roof was crushed in on the driver's side there was a field of white and metallic bits mixed with blood and glass. The engine was still running and beginning to smoke. As I slowly made my way beyond the two stricken vehicles I took note of the scene, two people belonging to the suburban, one belonging to the street sweeper. One of the suburban people was still trapped inside their vehicle, the driver. I also noticed that there was nobody there to render aid, so I stopped, gloved up and grabbed my first aid kit, which proved to be usless in this situation.

As I ran over to the scene I first noticed the suburban's passenger was standing at the driver's side door holding the driver's head as still as he could and attempting to keep the driver's airway clear by holding his tongue. The driver of the street sweeper, who was standing, shaking slightly with his gaze fixed upon the driver of the suburban which was facing him dead on. He didn't appear to be injured, at least not severely enough to require immediate attention. I then slid across the hood of the suburban, such as it was and made my way into the passenger side of the vehicle in order to turn off the lights, and engine which was now beginning to smoke.

At that time a taxi that was passing by slowed down enough for me to yell for him to stop and get fire and EMT to the scene. He pulled in near my vehicle and started to make the call. Once I had the vehicle turned off I turned to look to my right, and finally saw the extent of the driver's injuries. He had suffered severe head trauma and his neck appeared to have been broken, yet he was still grunting and moving slightly.

In order to reach the driver I had to wedge myself under the collapsed roof and assorted jagged bits of vehicle. Once I was in a position to render aid I knew I was there for the duration as I was quite stuck in there now. At first the driver still had a pulse, and was breathing ever so slightly. I tried to get the bleeding under control, but the entire left side of his head was essentially missing. The best I could do was to place my hand firmly on the largest area of bleeding which had little effect. Shortly after that the blood loss was so severe that his breathing stopped, flowed shortly by his heart. I started CPR alternating with his passenger between breathing and doing chest compressions. It soon became evident that there was nothing else to do as grey matter began to exit from his ears and nose

A few minutes or maybe moments later the first emergency vehicles started arriving, at which point I started to extricate myself from the twisted wreck of the suburban. I briefed the responders on the situation and went about looking for a towel to get all the blood and other assorted fluids off of myself. Unfortunately the Driver of the suburban was lost, the fire and EMT personnel just did a quick assessment of his condition and draped him in the death shroud.

That is what happened on that cool October night. I did leave one part out the part that haunts me to this day. No less than nine other vehicles passed the accident while I was on the scene doing my best to keep another human being alive, a human being I had never met. I had nothing to gain from doing this it was simply the right thing to do. No, it was the only thing to do. Who know how many vehicles had passed before I arrived. Of those nine vehicles, all slowed and swerved out of the way, or slowed to stare, two of them even slowed enough to take a quick cell phone picture before speeding off. I sat there with this man's blood all over me, in my mouth in my boots, his life quickly leaving his body. Yelling with all the power my lungs could muster each one of these cars to stop and assist me. All of them with windows down, clearly able to hear my pleas for assistance, and not one willing to stop or even inquire if their help was needed.

I later found out from one of the responding police officers what had happened. The suburban had clipped the edge of the street sweeper and was tossed up in the air in a spiraling motion, landing on its wheels and eventually spinning around to be facing backwards. The people from the suburban were brothers from Paterson who worked in Pleasanton together. There was no alcohol or drugs involved, just a bad judgment of the distance between the street sweeper and the suburban which was on its way to work in the wee hours of the morning. I asked how many calls they received about the incident, and was told the received exactly one call to 911, which was from the taxi driver.

As for me, I had a few pretty deep cuts from the twisted suburban on my back, chest and legs. I screwed up my knee which to this day is a painful reminder of that lesson about modern American society. I had to go get tested for all sorts of diseases as I had bodily fluids all over me.. If I had contracted HIV, or Hep., or any of a host of other potential diseases I would have gladly accepted that. In the end I have a bum knee, a small price to pay, that I would gladly pay time and time again if need be.

Screaming for help, nine vehicles passed by fully aware of the situation, unwilling to extend a hand, or even get on the phone to report what was happening. Is this the society we live in today? Are we that self obsessed and unwilling to do what is right when the time comes? All I can say is that I hope somebody who has half an ounce of decency about them is near by if any of you are in a situation where you need help. Unfortunately I have seen this happen time and time again, all be it not in situations nearly as severe.

The moral of the story is pretty simple, if you see somebody who's life in handing in the balance be a human and put your own tiny little needs and wants aside, face the fear and do what ever you can to help. It is not right to simply ignore it in hopes it will go away, or think that the next person will stop, because as I learned from this experience the next
person will most defiantly not stop, they will more likely take a picture to show all their friends at work the next day. Please, stop and take a moment to think about this. We should treat each other as loved ones, family, and friends. We all deserve each others help when we need it.

Please know that I did not share this story to make my self look good or anything like that anyone else could have done the same thing. I simply wanted to share one of my experiences, and maybe to help people to see a major problem in society today. A problem that has nothing to do with politics whatsoever, a problem that bites at the vary fabric of our society, that bites at the vary nature of what makes us human. Yet a problem that is easily solved, a problem where we can each individually make a difference.

Comments (8)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 10, 2009 at 6:55 pm

I will never get involved in an accident scene if there is blood all over. I would not provide mouth to mouth because it is too dangerous. Somebody could have hepatitis or Aids and I prefer to play it safe. Yup...you are on your own if I pass by and see you bleeding or unconscious. I would make an effort to call 911 but nothing more.

What do you mean "tiny little needs"? I've taken good care of myself, why should I put my life at risk? Are you nuts? Sheeeeeeeeeeeesh...I didn't even enjoy reading your story. Get a life!!!

Are you a DRAMA QUEEN or what?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by another viewpoint
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Cholo, you are an (Word removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff) and will get what you deserve in this life or the next. It is of no surprise to me that the Pleasantightasses who passed did nothing, not even made a phone call. Look around that town any day and watch them speeding through crosswalks with cellphones in hand. Greed, entitlement and stupidity are the things that make up these people.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by I just work here
a resident of another community
on Aug 10, 2009 at 9:25 pm

M, Thanks you for stopping, and trying to help. When you made the decision to stop, you didn't know your efforts would be futile, but at least you tried. I was driving in a residential area of San Lorenzo once, and saw a man lying in the street, holding a dog on a leash. I stopped and saw he was unconscious. His eyes were wide open, he didn't seem to be breathing, but i felt a slight pulse and started CPR after calling 911 from my cell. I never thought I could do mouthb to mouth on a stranger, but i thought maybe i could save his life. To make a long story short, the man didn't make it--he had a massive heart attack. Some people have said to me that I should not have done the mouth to mouth, but my conscience told me I should try. I'm glad I did. It sounds like you're still traumatized my the experience, not just dealing with the horror of injury and death, but my the coldness and indifference of others to the suffering that you witnessed so personally. We need more people like you, M.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by M
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 10, 2009 at 10:33 pm

Don't get mad at Cholo, he is just doing his thing. I assume he is a male, I could be wrong though.


-For I just work here

Actually I hadn't thought about that incident for quite some time, until I slammed my bad knee into the back of my desk at work today, and it reminded me of it. So I thought I would share,it was indeed the coldness of others that really sticks in my mind and bothers me to this day, it is a real shame to see people acting like that. At the same time though I wouldn't expect anyone to go and expose themselves to potential diseases, it was just a snap decision I had to make at the time. At least make the call, stop and assess the situation, and do what you can, if anything. In the end at least make the choice to stop and make the call, that in itself would be a big step for people, a step in the right direction.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tango
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Aug 11, 2009 at 2:33 pm

I now understand that it is not necessary to do mouth to mouth anymore. You do 30 chest compressions per min. this is suppose to help the breathing and keep the blood flowing. If you feel it is necessary to give a breath. Do it. But the chest compressions are the most importent even if you break ribs. I have stopped and rendered help many years ago, and was the one to do the chest . A nurse did the mouth to mouth untel a crash cart could be brought out to the parking lot at Kaiser W.C. The person servived , Thank goodness. It would help if everyone took the time to take a first aid course and learned the true stories and the myths about CPR.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 12, 2009 at 7:10 pm

I think that some people expect others to be crazy. I've heard so much about contaminated human blood and especially HIV and Hepatitis that I wouldn't stop to help if I perceived a risk to my well being. I don't care what you decide to do. I just don't think that it's appropriate to place myself at risk. What's so wrong with that? duh...

If you want to be a HERO, be my guest. Besides, so many of you don't even care if millions of Americans have healthcare or not. Lots of people die annually because they don't have health care. Now that is something I can support. Also, many of the people involved in fatal accidents are intoxicated on alcohol/drugs. If they want to stay alive, my advice is that they don't use/drink if want to avoid accidents. Problem solved!

I have no sympathy for people that drink/drunk and drive. Sorry mes petites, but fair is fair. My advice is that if there is blood all over the place, DO NOT assume that you are safe.

Problem solved! Moveon.com!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by been there
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2009 at 11:38 am

you must be alone and very very afraid Cholo and thats far more painful a life that i could ever stand.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 14, 2009 at 11:46 am

Not alone & not afraid. Just not stupid.

22,000 Americans die annually because they do not have health insurance. What are you doing to protect them, help them? nada...people are showing up at town hall mtgs. and screaming no health care for everybody....if you want to mix it up with blood that's not yours, I don't care! tee hee hee, tee hee hee...

you must be very alone, afraid and stupid...hahahahahahaha

are you a terrorist? hmmmmmmmmmmm....


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