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I don't know why I keep doing this.

Discussion in 'Ideas and Stories' started by Gary D., May 1, 2004.

  1. Gary D.

    Gary D. ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Post Falls, Idaho
    Today, April 30, at 1 am will be the 18-year anniversary of the recovery that has been haunting me for as many years. Out of all the calls I have been on this one is by far my worst.

    It was on April 29, 1986 when we started searching for a little 7-year-old girl with epilepsy. She was discovered missing by her parents around 7pm. Her parents being unable to locate her called the Sheriff at around 9:50pm.

    Search and Rescue was called at 10:40pm and by 11:50 two dog teams were in the area as was one marine boat and one diver, me.

    Some evidence pointed towards the water and her bicycle was missing.

    After suiting up and hitting the 44df water I immediately saw a child’s bicycle. A close inspection of it showed it to be freshly submerged. I knew right then that she was close but all I could do was cry.

    A few scans of my light revealed her lifeless body on the bottom. So alone in that 1300 acre lake, so cold and so lifeless. I couldn’t just grab her and go like the others. I held her close to me on the bottom for a minute or so, I don’t know for how long, but I just felt she needed a hug. At 12:55am on April 30, 1986 I returned her to the surface never to see her again except in my mind.

    I have recovered lots of children but for some reason this little 7-year-old has ingrained herself in me.

    I just can’t believe that her parents didn’t keep a closer eye on her being that close to the water. They actually allowed her to ride her bike on the boat docks.

    This is enough, I can’t type any more about it. Tonight will be rough but as always it will get back to normal soon. Damn I hate being human on nights like this. I'll be fine tomorrow but I wish I could just hug her again one more time.

    Gary D.

    PS: I wrote this last night and I am fine today. I just don't know why she has stuck with me all this time.
  2. pipedope

    pipedope Great White

    Thank you for having the courage to do a hard job and keep doing it in spite of the personal price that you pay.

    Thank you again for sharing the story.
    Take what comfort you can in the fact that there are many people who understand and appreciate your sacrifice.
  3. ScubaTexan

    ScubaTexan ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    It has affected you like this for the very reason you stated in the paragraph above -- because you are human. Jobs like this are very traumatizing, not only for the families, but for the surface personnel and S&R teams, as well. I really admire you -- you've got a helluva lot more spunk than I would have in doing this.

    Have you ever considered getting some counselling? Not an extensive amount, but enough to ease your pain. I really and truly hope it does not continue to haunt you for the rest of your life. :cry:
  4. Gary D.

    Gary D. ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Post Falls, Idaho
    Thanks guys but I'm fine today. It's just on the anniversary of her recovery when I replay everything over and over again.

    I don't think counselling would get rid of that night. To be honest, I don't think here parents feel one bit of guilt over the incident. It wouldn't surprise me if they had totally forgotten about it and her. So I guess I was picked to keep her memory going and I really don't want to let go.

    I have been involved with around 40 child recoveries. Some I don't even remember until a news article with my name in it sparks a memory. But for some reason I don't want to let go of her. She was just someone special.

    My first one and this little sweetheart will stay with me and I feel they should. Just being human without that bad guy LEO attiyude.

    Gary D.
  5. DennisW

    DennisW Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Sebastian, FL

    Thanks for sharing. And we can never thank you enough for sharing a part of yourself with ever call out. Each one can be dangerous to you as well as the victims you try so hard to either rescue or recover. At least most of us appreciate your sacrifices. I know I surely do.
  6. seco divemaster

    seco divemaster Guest

    recovery of childrecoveryafter reading your letter had to wipe my eyes and sit for a min. i have been a lifeguard and a scuba diver for about 10 years and have pulled many bodies out and none have hit me as hard as a child loseing there life. i wish you the best and hope you find a way to deal with the loss.
  7. Dee

    Dee ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: near Houston, Texas
    We who know you personally know how very special you are and how very seriously you take your calling. I share your tears for that little girl and am glad you've kept her memory alive.
  8. medic001918

    medic001918 Solo Diver

    I can relate very closely to your story. I'm a volunteer firefighter, as well as being a career EMT who is finishing Paramedic school in September of this year. There are times that I wonder why I do what I do, so I am fully aware of the calls that haunt you and the faces and feelings that become engrained in your mind. Oftern times I can't explain why a certain call stays with me, it just does. And then there are other calls that are forgotten by the time I walk out of the hospital or off of the scene. Calls with children are among my worst feared calls. It's one thing to see someone who has had a chance at life move on. It's devastating to see a young life come to an end, especially when it is by someone's negligence or by their own intentional doing.
    You are a blessing to many in their time of need. I am not a public safety diver yet, in fact I'm a recently certified PADI Open Water diver. After I get comfortable in the water, I will be going thru the public safety diver training course from lifeguard systems. I look forward to the opportunity to serve the communities in which I work another service for the good of the community.
    Something that was said on another msg board for the emergency services:
    "The worst in people often brings out the best in other people."
    Good luck and thank you,
  9. JoanneR

    JoanneR Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Southeast Florida

    There are many of us out here who have one of those calls. About 13 years ago (I had just barely gotten out of that wet behind the ears rookie stage), my partner (in the same position) and I were working afternoon shift from the late hours of Christmas Eve to the early morning hours of Christmas Day. Not long before midnight, we got a call for a DOA. Turns out, the location was a halfway house for those with mental illness. We got there and found the next of kin information. We would have given anything to put the clock ahead some 24 plus hours so that some family didn't have to remember Christmas as the day their loved one died. We called the next of kin, a brother and he made his way to our location. I guess the brother kind of figured that we were both feeling really bad and he proceeded to explain things to us. Turns out, his brother had almost the IQ of a genius and then became schizophrenic. Over the years he declined to the point of being an imbecile. In fact, he could no longer walk and crawled everywhere. The death was expected (but it sure didn't make us feel better). My partner went on to a specialized unit and I continued in that same division. Every now and then when my partner and I crossed paths, one of us would ask the other if we still stopped each Christmas Eve and remembered that night. We did and we still felt bad. We didn't dwell on it, we just stopped and remembered that night. Up until I left after 15 years, we still each stopped and thought about it every Christmas Eve (and I know we still do). I dealt with a lot of death in Toronto and I deal with even more here in Florida and none of them has made me stop to remember like this one has. As law enforcement officers, we are told to suck it up, we can't cry and we can't have emotions. I was even told that I couldn't get angered by what I saw (but I have case law that says I can). So we build this wall that is impenetrable but somehow, someway, a special case finds that small crack and makes us see that we are indeed still human (despite what we are told to be). If I didn't have some human feelings in all of this, I wouldn't be very good at what I did and do. It is a check and balance to make sure that we ourselves don't get lost in the fog

  10. Boater Dan

    Boater Dan Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Western PA

    Everyone in the emergency services has their incidents that stick with them. Two that have stuck with me are a beautiful 16 year old girl who was killed in a T-bone crash. The impacting car went directly into the passenger side of the vehicle. We had to cut the car away from her after the coroner examined her. There was no doubt she was dead when we arrived on scene. Just seeing a life taken so senslessly was heart breaking. I know that everyone will find this difficult to believe, her 17 year old boy friend was drunk. He was ejected through the window and died on the highway.

    The other that sticks with me was the search for the fire fighter years ago. I talked about this one on a post before, but my training kept telling me to leave the building, but my mind kept telling me that if it were me lost, I would want someone to try!

    Hang in there! You know you are doing great job and someday, hopefully decades from now, I'm certain that God will allow you the opportunity to hold her once again!


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