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This is a question Have you ever seen a dead body?

How did you feel?
Upset? Traumatised? Relieved? Like poking it with a stick?

(, Thu 28 Feb 2008, 9:34)
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I work in newspapers, and normally it's a great job. I sit behind a desk, get to read things pretty much as they happen, laugh at people's dumb mistakes in the police blotter, and generally have a grand old time. About six months ago, I was working at a newspaper in the Florida Keys. It was a small office -- just a half-dozen writers who all took their own photographs, wrote most of the paper, and handed it off to we layout folks and copy editors.

Because we worked behind a desk, it was mostly just a 9-5 job. Clock in, do work, clock out. Nothing special. Now, being in the Florida Keys, we get a ton of automobile, truck, RV (caravan), and motorcycle traffic. All of it comes down a single two-lane roadway 120 miles from Florida City. Because of this fact, and the fact that most folks are drunk half the time (it's the Keys, right?) there's an astonishingly high number of traffic accidents (former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno was involved in one) and a high, high number of fatalities. It's not uncommon to have 30 or more traffic deaths a year -- and this in a county where the permanent population is just over 80,000 people. Most of the deaths happen at night, when people are at their drunkest, and most happen in two particular stretches of the highway -- both of which are far north of our office. There are particular times of the year -- during the buildup to tourist season, New Year's, during Fantasy Fest, the Poker Run, and any day of the week ending in 'y' -- when things are particularly bad.

On one fine, sunny day, we were in the office as usual, rattling away on the keyboards, when we heard a godawful screech and bang from outside. Within a few seconds, one of the secretaries came back into the office to let us know that there had been a bad accident right outside the front door. Well, there weren't any writers around at the moment, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to grab a camera and a few lenses on the way outside.

I threw on a telephoto lens and zoomed in on the action (God ... did I really type "action"?). A motorcyclist and his rider had been driving at 55 miles an hour (speed ascertained from the speedometer, which had stopped at the moment of impact and which was clearly visible in the photographs), and had slammed into the back of a vehicle stopped to make a left-hand turn. Needless to say, neither were wearing helmets.

I'd like to say that I immediately dropped the camera and ran to help the victims of the accident, which had happened less than a minute prior. Unfortunately, I can't say that. I kept snapping pictures, walking around the crash site in a circle. I ended up taking over 200 -- pictures of the first people on the scene, pictures of the police running to assist, pictures of the ambulance arriving, pictures of crying bystanders. But most of all, I got pictures of the victims.

I don't know their names. I've never bothered to check, mainly because I feel guilty that I didn't do anything to help. I simply saw everything through the lens, as if it were on television. I was detatched, remote, a thousand miles away as two people died on the road not fifteen feet away from me, limbs splayed wildly, blood and brains leaking onto the pavement.

I like to think that there was nothing I could have done, that they were already dead by the time I ran out there. Regardless of whether they were or not, I'll always remember one particular moment, one particular image. A policewoman, hand over the head of a victim, screaming for help. And I just stood there, taking pictures, pausing to change lenses to make sure I got the absolutely best shot.
(, Mon 3 Mar 2008, 11:26, 3 replies)
you really did this?

this is't just an attempt to start a flame or anthing is it?
(, Mon 3 Mar 2008, 11:46, closed)
be joking.
(, Mon 3 Mar 2008, 13:40, closed)
No, I'm not joking
I wish I could say I was joking. The accident occurred in the street directly in front of the police station, so there were emergency responders on the scene within seconds after I got there, and the hospital was three blocks away, but it was a while before an ambulance showed up.

I could provide more details, but I'd like to keep at least a shred of my privacy.
(, Mon 3 Mar 2008, 21:48, closed)

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