Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Deep breaths

This is a job from last year.

The first part of the call started off routine enough.... "Can I have unit for a personal injury accident, outside the Central Railway Station...."

There was a bit of a pause. I start making my way, I have a couple of my probationers with me, they are keen to get to grips with the reporting mechanisms of road accidents (trust me, they're not simple.)

"Er we're getting quite a few calls now.... they're all saying its fatal"

Uh oh.

The first unit gets there. Their first request is for a traffic unit. Traffic only turn up to serious accidents.

Control room: "Yeah we've got your car on cctv.... standby.... oh."

The operator makes a nervous laugh and mumbles something about traffic. She's probably wishing she could take her eyes off the screen but they are still drawn to this image that she'll probably not forget in a while.

We get there. We'd run from the opposite end of the ground and the governor and another skipper are already there. Cordons aren't yet up, but traffic is stopped. Its quite an early hour so there's not too many people about yet.

I stop the car and look over to the road where there's a crumpled heap on the floor. I pause, then take a second glance. The brain figures there's something not right in the dull orange streetlight glow.

The body is missing its head.

I'm out of the car now, deploying my crew to cordon points on the pavement. A couple of late revellers are walking along the road. The girls start with the usual drunk flirting that every cop in a yellow jacket gets. "Ello ello whats going on here then?"

I can't be bothered replying. I just point to the heap on the road. Even in the poor light you can see the mess. Imagine driving over a large melon, and you'll have an idea of what it looked like. The girl stumbles. She turns white, and mouths a few nothings as her brain tries to comprehend what its looking at. She clings on to her bloke and drags him off as fast as her precarious shoes let her.

The other skipper comes up to me looking serious and angry. "Its a fail to stop". The driver responsible has left the scene. Do we know what direction. Not yet.

By now, the emotions have disappeared. This is a job to investigate thoroughly and promptly for the sake of the poor sod left on the road. Plenty of units are here now, and the scene is secured. I go and fetch a hand held searchlight and start looking closely at the road surface around the body. I'm looking for any hint of tyre tread imprint, out of I'm sure what you can all guess. Thankfully the road is dry. I think I see something and get an ambulance to move out the way. They've got nothing they can do anyway. Sure enough, there's an imprint, left on the road markings. It is replicated a couple more times up the road before fading out. It looks like a big wheel, maybe a truck or a coach. I make sure they're preserved. The collision investigators will be able to figure out a wealth of information from this- type of tyre, circumfrence etc.

Traffic are controlling the scene now. There's not a lot left for me to do. I speak to the skipper, make sure he's aware of the tread marks and they go in the log. Other people are tasked to trawl back through the CCTV camera tapes.

I move off in the direction that it looks like the driver was going. I have a fruitless search of the side streets in the hope the driver has panicked and abandoned the car nearby. I give up after an hour. I go back to the scene. The body is covered with a forensic tent now, as I hear that a crowd was gathering on the central island gawping. I would love to get a water cannon on them one day. Yes, its pretty damn awful, and I can't begrudge someone stopping to see whats going on. But once you've realised what it is, move the hell on would you.

I check on my crew, who have realised they're pretty much stuck there on the cordon for the time being.

I have to return my car for the day shift, and trundle off. Another job to reflect on the mortality of us all.