MEETING ON THE BRIDGE.

Boy run over, killed by forklift

By Eagle staff

A 4-year-old Colby boy was killed just west of Colby Friday when he fell off a forklift he was riding and was run over, the Kansas Highway Patrol said.

Troopers reported that Justin Schroeder was riding the forklift with his father, Daniel Schroeder, 46, shortly after noon when the boy fell off and was run over by a back wheel.

This is I guess I will call a sore subject, this reminded me of another incident several years ago.

I would not take my own children on a ride on my motor cycle until they were in the younger teens.

The following is a story I wrote shortly after the accident that happened in the next town over.

WARNING

As Chris can attest to, writers often write to work things out. This is no different, the following story is inspired by a real event. Though I take some license with it, mainly it explores the effect of an event.

This story is graphic in some places, it is dark subject. I have noticed that for the most part, what are posted here are light heart subjects. For this I apology in advance , if you would rather not be touched by the subject of a child’s death. Which to me is a sin against nature, a parent should never out live a child. This story touches on that death, on a tragic event that goes beyond losing a child to a car crash or illness. Which would be a loss beyond measure.

Please, if you choose not to read the following story. I will not be offended. But I need to work this out.

Part of what makes me a good writer, is I seem to have the power of Empathy. Everyone has sympathy, the feeling of be sorry for another. I have been bless and as in this case, cursed with the ability to place myself in another’s circumstance.

All it takes is thinking how some one must feel and I am there. In this case I made that mistake. I only did it for a second, I stopped as the pain is so intense. Sounds crazy I know, but it does make me an understanding storyteller. So please find the story as follows.

THE MEETING ON THE BRIDGE.

He had finally gotten away, oh they meant well and perhaps if things were different he would be glad they were there. But things were not different, nor could they ever be, she is gone. And he could never live with that fact. He would willingly bare the flames of hell if it would mean she would come back. All he could think of is the smile on her face just before it happen. Her giggle still rang in his ears, she was having fun with daddy.

But now the only image of Amanda he had in his mind was of the last time he held her. The moment he lost her and realization as he picked her up. Every time he closed his eyes the image is there, he wished he could burn his eyes out, but the image was not in the eyes but in the soul. No there is only one thing to do and now he has the chance.

At first he thought of a tree, so he drives the back road in search of a suitable stand for the deed.

It was on this drive that he came across the bridge, it’s span was thirty feet above the riverbed.

The railing would provide a place to attach the rope, its height a distance drop to insure a strong jerk.

Soon the pain would stop, the image would be gone. And if God was truly merciful they would be together again.

He pulled the pick-up to the side of the bridge and got out. A glance over the railing assured him that the drop would be long enough. He retrieved the half-inch rope from the toolbox and started working on the knotted loop. He had not tied a “Hangman noose” since he had been boy scouts and fumbled to get it right. Finally he was sure the knots were correct. After rolling up the rope, he placed it on the hood of the truck. He reached through the open window and retrieved three items. Paper, pen and a picture but were careful not to look at it. That would be the last thing he wanted to do on this planet, in this life.

The letter would be simple, people would know why he had done this. But one more time he wanted to tell his wife how sorry he was. As if that would do any good, he could not expect her to forgive him. She had said that she understood it was an accident. But he felt it, she could not help herself. He could see it in her eyes, every time she would look at him. She saw the murder of her angel, a sin that was unforgivable.

In short fashion the letter was complete, now was the time to set the scene. A quick half hitch and a snap tug on the rope assured him it would hold. He put the letter under the wiper on the truck so it would not blow off. Picked up the picture, then walked to the railing and placed the noose around his neck.

He paused, the pain was coming back along with the events of that day. Five days ago, it had only been five days. He could not remember when the pain was not there. The sun was shining bright on that Saturday morning. Amanda was as she always was, running around chasing sunbeams and laughing at everything that caught her fancy. At two years old, she was into everything and every turn brought a new joy.

She had become quite the “Daddy’s girl”, often felling asleep on his lap. At times he sensed that his wife seemed a bit jealous But he enjoyed the time they spent together and today was one of those days that it was just Amanda and him.

They had spent the morning watching cartoons and playing with toys. Once in awhile he would glance out the window and thought of the work that needed done round the house. But the moments thought would be pushed back when his daughter called “Dadda”.

As the morning turned to after noon, father and daughter took a walk about the property. The ground was finally drying up from the rains of three days ago. As they neared the horse corral, he looked at the three feet high weeds that choked the pen. It suddenly reminded him of the letter he had gotten from the city.

The small town, wanting to be more like a larger city. The town had annexed the lands just passed their city limits.

As such they started trying to “beautify “ the town, the letter stated the owner of the property had ten days to mow the tall grasses. Between work and the rain, it had been eight days since he had received the notice.

*************

The low rumble of an approaching vehicle brought him back to the here and now. He turns and saw the Sheriffs patrol car moving slow down the road towards him. He thought that he should jump or be stopped from ending the pain. But the cruiser was stopped before he could move to jump.

The deputy exited the cruiser and the what he had come across became apparent. The rope around the neck, the other end securely attached to the railing and he knew this man. It had been five days since the two had first met. This was the first day back to duty after an ordered leave and three days of counseling. Law enforcement officers learn that emotions were the enemy of doing the job. Hate, fear, even caring and compassion could cause a fatal mistake. A wall against emotions is build to protect the officer from feeling such things. With fifteen years on the job, the deputy’s wall seemed strong. Till the call that caused these men’s path to cross. Since than, the deputy had bouts of crying that he could not stop, anger that did not go away no matter how hard he hit his heavy bag.

*****

The sun was shining bright Saturday as he drove on his patrol, he was just outside the small town when the call came.

“Farm accident….” , he had handled his share of such calls in his fifteen years with the sheriffs department.

Generally it was a farmer that was paying more attention to his plowing that the creek. Only a few involved death, most were pins. The county fire and a wrecker would lift the tractor from the poor trapped farmer. And against Doctor’s advise, the farmer would be back plowing the same field in a week.

But this one was in an odd location, it was within the city limits of the town. Within two minutes the deputy had arrived at the location. At first he did not see anything odd, he called out “Sheriffs department”. But there was no response, so he started walking. Soon he saw the tractor setting in the horse corral, it was idling.

he rounded the tractor and saw the man setting on the ground with his back to the deputy. He appears to be holding his arm. The deputy expected to see the man had some how cut his hand off, in farming accidents that is the second most common.

The man appeared to be holding a child’s doll, franticly trying to keep pieces from falling off.

He would put the arm back into place and the head would drop off. So he would quickly pick up the head and the arm would fall to the ground. All the man was saying was a quiet but urgent “Wake up Amanda”.

*******

The men eyes met, they stood not five feet apart and in a silent stare.

The deputy noticed the picture in the man’s hand, “Can I see it?”.

The man carefully handed the deputy the picture.

The girl in the picture was setting in front of one of those photo shop backgrounds.

A smile that is as bright as suns light, she was holding a stuff teddy bear.

The man said, “That was on her second birthday, afterward we took her to get some ice cream.

We told her we would take her to get a treat after the picture, so she would not be messy when the picture was taken”.

“Thank you”, it was important to the deputy to see an image of Amanda other than the one burned into his soul. The deputy handed the photo back, once again they fell into silence. Both men stood with tears rolling down their cheeks.

The deputy looked hard into the man’s eyes and said quietly “I understand”.

The deputy walked back to his car, then turned, “I’ll come in thirty minutes”.

“Thank you”, was all the man said as he looked at the blue sky.

After the sheriff’s car moved off, the man stepped up onto the railing balancing himself against a support.

When he was set, he raised the picture to his face and looked at the image of his daughter.

“I am so sorry baby…Daddy loves you”.

End.

************************

This is a hard one, now for the facts of what this is inspire by.

June 5, 2004, in the town of Douglass, Kansas, while mowing a horse corral with his two-year-old daughter on the tractor with him. The girl slipped off the tractor and fell under the mowing deck. The responding officers are receiving counseling. The father is under a suicide watch as is understandable.

I have said for years now that it is against the laws of nature for a parent to out live a child.

It is the greatest fear of all parents, but for this to happen has to be the greatest loss of all time.

Life has its dangers, not too long ago a man traveling through Kansas had his entire family wiped out in a freak flood. He said it was his faith in God that enabled him to endure such loss.

But I feel even such a total loss, could be endured with the hard-learned fact that there was nothing he could do to have prevented. Much like the factious Deputy, my own shock turned to anger. What was this father thinking having his two-year-old daughter on the tractor with him? He was solely responsible for her death. Than I thought how he felt, for one second and he faces the rest of his life with this pain. For a moment lack of judgment. How many times have you seen someone with a small child on a motor cycles?

A riding lawnmower, in the bed of a pick-up truck? How many time have we all done something that put anyone in danger? And thought as long as we are careful, it would be OK. When just a moments thought of what could happen. Would make us think it is not worth the risk, or I could not live with the fact if the worst happened.

I do not normally suggest such things, but I can only ask that those that believe in God. Ask that God bring comfort to this father and mother. Short of a merciful God, there is no power on earth that could.

As I said, I felt but one second of this man’s pain, it was more then I could imagine. Since then I have been haunted, there is only one thought that I can find that sums it up.

It is an old saying, one that is used to easy the mind and find a comfort for those not directly touch by a tragic event. This gives a new mean to that old saying, “But by the grace of God… Go I”.

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2 responses to “MEETING ON THE BRIDGE.

  1. Bad Biker

    Many, many years ago, I was a first-time supervisor, managing a warehouse for a major company. I had a kid working for me, just eighteen, just days out of High School. Decent young man, not your All-American boy, but he was alright.

    One afternoon in late June, the Receiving Department was was short-handed, so I loaned the kid out to unload a truck and run the stock back to my warehouse. The stock was styrofoam packaging. He was driving a stand-up type electric forklift.

    He had the stock unloaded onto the dock and was starting to bring it back to the warehouse. One bale of styrofoam was not lined up, so rather than jump off the lift to square it, he backed up onto the dock plate. Just as he did that, the driver pulled the trailer out of the truck well, with the plate still engaged with the trailer. Both action were major violation of the safety rules.

    The weight of the forklift combined with the sudden removal of the trailer caused the plate to drop, shearing the pins designed to keep the dock plate at a horizontal position.

    The plate dropped to a forty-five degree position, the lift and the driver were violently thrown into the well. The cage of the lift caught on the back of the trailer and hung suspended, but the young man was killed instantly by the impact with the concrete.

    Eighteen and life was over.

    In the ensuing years, I was often responsible for plant safety and the various jobs I held. I often told this story to point out how such a death could happen so quickly in a manufacturing environment.

    Over the years as both a motorcycle rider and a manufacturing manager/director, I came to appreciate safety more and more as time passed.

    I pride myself on taking no chances with my grand kids, but we all know that pride comes before the fall. I try to be conscious of every possible hazard, but we all know how quickly and easily a life can be destroyed.

    Your thread was well written and obviously heartfelt, (O) – tragic things happen and sometimes it is the children that bear the consequences.

  2. Recently in Australia a father took his two little children fishing off a long jetty. The weather was a little wild and windy. His youngest child was strapped into a pram while the eldest child played on the jetty. At some stage the eldest child climbed or stepped onto the pram and it toppled into the ocean. The father immediately jumped in, while someone ran to call for help. A young man dived in and managed to grab the eldest child from the father’s arm. As he swam to shore the father tried to rescue the youngest still strapped in the sunken pram. Sadly the eldest child could not be resuscitated and the father and baby perished in the freezing water. A mother’s worst nightmare. It is hard to reconcile in ones mind how such a tragedy could happen. I could not imagine how the mother would cope with such a tragedy. Anger, love, loss and an unimaginable emptiness.