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Saturday, September 02, 2006



Still in the grip of the grippe. Basically, I have just been sleeping and expelling fluids. Lets just leave it at that.

Do your dreams get weird when you are ill? Mine do. These dreams usually are flashbacks to earlier points in my life, but the facts are skewed, and what is left of my rationale mind keeps nagging me about "things not being right"

Since I have no cab story for today, maybe you would enjoy a short tale from my prior life. If you enjoy it, I may scatter them in on a random basis in the future.


I wasn't always with the department I reference in my profile. For a short while, I worked as a cop in Nevada.
The middle of "fall" and the night of the highschool "homecoming" dance. I was OIC (Officer In Charge) since our sargeant was on vacation. Only two city cars on that night. Myself ("20-David") and "20-Charlie". The county had three deputies working. We shared a central dispatch center, at the Public Safety Builing, on the south-central part of town.

I was in radio room, having a cup of coffee and chatting with "Angie", the swing-shift operator. It had been a quiet night, with few calls, though we expected things to get busier when the dance finished.

"20-Charlie" was cruising past the gym, where the dance was in progress, and spotted a known drug dealer sitting in the drivers seat of a brand new Dodge Charger. He wasn't the owner. "20-Charlie" stopped and then approached the vehicle on foot. The suspect was oblivious to his presence. "20-Charlie" watched as the illicit entrepeneur was packaging pills and caplets of assorted colors into small paper bindles. The officer tapped on the driver's door window and told the dealer to get out of the car. The dealer saw the uniform and badge, started the barely street legal race car (440 cu. in. engine with 3 2-bbl carbs), and sped off into the night.

"Base, 20-Charlie. In pursuit of a black over yellow Dodge Charger, westbound on Main Street, approaching the city limits."

I was out of the radio room at a full run. Headed for my patrol car, parked in front of the Public Safety Building. We didn't have portable radios back then, so I was out of communication for about 45 seconds.

As soon as I was in the car I determined that they were still headed westbound on the US highway. "20-Charlie"'s vehicle, A Ford stationwagon, was no match for the Charger but he was keeping the suspect in sight. We were located in the high mountain desert of eastern Nevada and the next community west was almost 60 miles away. Just the paved US Highway and dirt roads leading off into the hinderlands. Just vast, open, mountainous, empty space.

I roared down Main Street, all the lights and siren advertising my emergency operation. I passed the casinos doing 100+ mph and as soon as I cleared the city limits I increased my speed to about 130 mph. I was driving the new sargeant's vehicle, a Dodge Polara Pursuit with a huge 440 cu. in. engine with a massive fuel sucking 4-bbl carb. Not quite equal to what the suspect had but way beyond what "20-Charlie" was driving.

"20-Charlie" advised that the Charger had eluded him by driving off onto one of the dirt roads. He had tried to follow but his car didn't have enough road clearance for the rutted roadway. I caught up to him at the intersection. I decided that I would continue in on that road, I had the clearance needed, and he would go back into town and come in on another, better, dirt road that connected with this one, about 10 miles north. Hopefully we could catch this asswipe in a squeeze play.

I had gently transgressed about 1/4 mile in when I crested a rise and, lo and behold, there was the Charger sitting at the bottom of the ravine. As soon as he spotted me, the chase was on. Since we weren't on a blacktop road, his top speed was not a factor. It came down to which of us was the better driver. Advantage to me. I had been trained for this shit. He hadn't.

We stayed on the dirt road for about 3 miles until it terminated at a graded "pole line" road that paralled the electric powerlines. He turned right, headed for where "20-Charlie" was headed to, and punched the accelerator, kicking up an impenatrable cloud of dust and pebbles. I deliberately lagged about 1/4 of a mile behind.

"Base, 20-David. turning east on 'Pole-Line' road. In excess of 100.""
"20-Charlie, 20-David. We are headed your way. Should be there in about 6 minutes."
"20-David, 20-Charlie, I am still 10 minutes away."
"10-4. When we get to Box Canyon Road, he'll either turn left and go into the canyon or turn right and be headed right at you. Stay alert"

Pole-Line Road isn't quite straight. It tends to slalom around natural artifacts while staying close to the power poles. As I watch, a rainbow of pixelated colors starts glittering in my headlights, coming from the drivers window. He was dumping his stash!

As we approached the junction of Pole-Line and Box Canyon, he slowed a bit. Trying to make a decision on which way to turn. In the distance, to our right, could be seen the blue and red lights on two patrol cars headed towards us. By the light bar configuration, I could see that a county unit was about two miles away and "20-Charlie" was about a mile behind him.

His options narrowed to one choice, he turned left. Box Canyon Road was an improved, graded road surface. Not paved but was regularly sprayed with oil to lower dust levels. It led about twenty miles towards an old mining ghost town, where it ended in a classic western US box canyon. One way in. One way out.

He floored it. The portion of Box Canyon Road that we were on was nicked named "jackrabbit hills", because of the close set, repetative undulations of the terrain. Every time he crested a rise, he would go airborne, getting more heigth and distance with each topping.

He was now about three crests ahead of me and then he was gone. Couldn't see him anywhere. I quickly backed off and when I finally came over the top of the last knoll I had seen him on, there the Charger was. Upside down. Still sliding on its roof.

"Base, 20-David. Suspect has TC'd on Box Canyon. Three miles north of Pole-Line."
I hung up that mike and grabbed the one for the Sheriff's Office communications.
"20-David to County Unit on Box Canyon. BACK OFF!! BACK OFF!! Suspect has TC's. The roadway is blocked."
"15-Able, copy."

I could see the suspect was trapped in the vehicle, fuel was leaking from the filler tube and a small fire had started near the rear axle.

Grabbed the "city" mike.

"20-David. Suspect trapped in vehicle. Leaking fuel. Flames and smoke visible. Roll Fire and a Rescue Unit."

I jumped out and raced to him. He couldn't reach the release on his seatbelt and was suspended upside down. The flames were getting bigger and I reached down into my boottop, where I kept a razor sharp switchblade knife. One slash and the seatbelt fell away and he fell on his head.

I grabbed him by his hair and jacket collar and literally snatched him out of the drivers window. One clean movement. He was combative, still, but a quick armlock got him under control. I ran him headfirst into the fender of my car and, as he laid dazed by the events, put the cuffs on him and stuffed him into the caged backseat of my unit.

Just about then, the county unit came sliding over the hill. I opened the trunk and grabbed the fire extinquisher and brought the flames under control. Then "20-Charlie" rolled up, followed about 90 seconds later by the rescue unit, three firetrucks and about fifty volunteer firefighters.

Turned out that the firefighters were having their monthly training session at the station and had been monitoring the chase on the radio. They had started the engines and raised the bay doors before I had called for them. When they heard me call the "TC" they were rolling before I requested them.

Everything was under control. The suspect was being treated for his, minor, injuries.

I needed a cigarette. Badly.

Tried to light it but my hands were shaking so much that I had to get someone else to help me.

Spent the next six hours writing reports.

Oh, the dealer was sentenced to 5 years in prison, suspended, placed in County Jail for one year, paroled after 6 months and served 8 years probation. Well, he actually only served one year before he was violated on other charges.

The Charger wa "totaled". It had flipped, rolled and gone end-over-end. Impact damage on every part of the car.

Damage to my patrol car - tore a 4 inch by 4 inch piece of insulation off one of the mufflers.


On the "Big Island"

From Sugar Beach

Looking at Lana'i
From Moloka'i
Moloka'i Sea Cliffs

Windward O'ahu

"Let's all be careful out there!"


jo said...

Hi Wil

Great story, exciting and pacey! No wonder you decided to chill out on Maui - how much excitement can one body take.

I look forward to your next dip back in time.

Jo xx

adelay said...

You're part of my daily reading out here in the Phils. It's my daily dose of humor, reality and good ole' fashioned life. Thanks for keep me sane...:)


Helen said...

Great post! The photos are amazing as well. As jo said, no wonder you decided to move to Hawaii! Helen x

jeepgirl said...

Now you know I love stories like that. The cop doesn't get to chase people much. Kinder, gentler police department my ass!!!

Get some rest (and maybe a cork) and feel better!!!

Brent said...

OMG, it takes too long to read your post!

Holly & Scolly said...

Hi Wil

Sorry to hear you're not well, hope you're feeling fit again soon.

Anyway, just wanted to say I really enjoyed your "Which Way Did He Go"
post. I felt like I was watching a movie and was right on the edge of my
seat, wondering what was going to happen next! You're a great story
teller and we look forward to hearing more about your "previous life".
We bet you must have loads of great stories!

Holly & Scolly

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