About 10 miles south of Windy Point was a road that went from nowhere to nowhere. About the only thing regularly on this road was the vultures waiting for a tourist stupid enough to take this shortcut. Without a full tank of gas. An extra jug or two of water. Some MRE’s. Oil, antifreeze, extra belts and hoses. Five gallon buckets with lids for the ….. necessities. Blankets, candles, sleeping bags, butane hand and feet warmers in the winter. You might recall the couple from California and their two kids that got lost for 10 days in Oregon at Christmas a year or so ago. It was that kind of road.
There was a road that only ran from Windy Point, which is almost nowhere, down to this road, which is really nowhere. The road to the road to nowhere was not in very good repair. Not that many people took the road to the road to nowhere. You were more likely to see antelope and jackrabbits on this road than another car. In fact, in the spring during jackrabbit mating season, (oh, wait, they mate like rabbits) the sides of the road would be lined with a solid phalanx of jackrabbits at night.
At this time the police chief of Windy Point was a big ol’ doofus of a kid. Big, and dumb, and too lazy to take care of the police car. Which is why the license tabs were expired, the oil was low, the tank was never full, and the tires looked like racing slicks. But that was okay, because it was a small town, and there was never any emergencies, right? No high speed chases. If a kid outran you, you knew the telephone to his folks would outrun him.
Except of course for this one day. There actually was a house at the intersection of the road to nowhere, and the road to the road to nowhere, and it actually had a phone. And that was a good thing, because a school bus with a bunch of kids from a Bible camp ran off the road and overturned about 100 yards from the intersection.
And so we got a call. We were the closest police and ambulance agency to the scene, and I was sort of the de facto medical person available, so I piled in the police car with my ex, and we proceeded to drive sedately to the …. Well, no, we were doing at least 80, and I was glad I had a seat belt with a shoulder harness. But there were a couple of potholes where I thought I should have brought a clean pair of undies with me.
When we got down there, most of the kids were out of the bus, sitting on the side of the road. There were about 40 of them. And it was hotter than blazes. If they didn’t die of shock, they would probably fry. So it was off to do triage. First, to the kids still stuck in the bus. There was only a couple of them, and it was apparent to me that there was no hurry about getting one of them out, he wasn’t going anywhere. It was going to take the Jaws of Life (or in this case, death) to get him out. The bus driver was complaining of back pain, and the kids had bumps and bruises. By this time a couple of other departments and ambulances had shown up, and we splinted all the suspicious limbs, and took all of them off to hospitals where they could be evaluated. Later we learned that other than the fatality, and the bus driver’s injuries, the worst injuries were a broken wrist and a broken nose. But I won’t insult what they went through by saying they were lucky. I am sure they were terrified, and sore, maybe for months. And sad.
When we had them all trundled off to various hospitals, (our own little impromptu disaster drill completed), I turned around to walk back to the car and saw it. A spot on the right front tire where I could count one, two, two and half plies…..And decided I’d used up my luck for the day, I’d better ride home with the State Patrol.