Down and Out
Lew and Anne Goddard
Copyright 2020 by Lew Goddard
is a fictional story of what can happen in the winter where there’s
you may never make it home if the roads are covered with snow. Snow
will pile up to six feet at times. When the wind blows in a blizzard,
if your car is outside it can be totally covered before the storm
was a just a few miles from home and about eight miles out of the
city. And it was dark at six o’clock. He lived at Arcola Lake
on a small acreage that he nurtured in the summer and plowed snow in
the winter. The property was purchased after his home in the city had
was close to fifty but he didn.t have a full-time job. At twenty, he
had joined the City of Redmond Police Department and graduated to the
homicide division fifteen years later.
few years ago, he was helping his partners capture a suspect who was
a person of interest in a rape/murder. It was late at night in the
summer and they had determined that the man had gained entrance to
the flat top roof of a local Bank. Twenty stories up and with little
light as he ran along the edge of the roof and miscalculated when he
turned the corner and flipped head over heels off the roof.
Fortunately, there was an addition as part of the building about
fifteen feet below and he landed in a hurtful manner. His left leg
was a mess, multiple fractures and part of a bone was sticking out.
also had a concussion and spent a month in hospital. His body healed
well but this mishap was very telling and sometimes he thought he
would be better off dead. At home he hardly smiled and the yard work,
that was his way of destressing, did not give him any joy seeing a
planted garden grow and the lawn looking like a green carpet. He was
lost, nothing appealed to him at home and if he received a call from
the Police Department, he didn’t want to talk and relive his
day, the Redmond City Police Chief came to see Tim. Some of his
buddies and friends would call him “Timid” to bug him.
But he had been far from timid with the outstanding career as a
policeman and homicide detective extraordinary. That was in his
former Lieutenants talk with Tim. He advised that the department
needed an individual like him. No, he couldn’t function full
time but he could consult to the Police Department and sit on task
forces when they convened.
Lieutenant left that day and Tim found himself becoming interested
in what his superior had told him. Actually, it couldn’t be
much better, he could still look after his home and spouse, plus be
in the action that he had been so used to. A couple of weeks later,
Tim set an appointment with the Lieutenant and went to the city for
the first time in six months. It was invigorating and he advised his
boss that he would accept the offered positions.
then, he has been on a disability allowance and pension. Because he
was previously instrumental in many investigations and arrests,
Redmond Police Department often called him to be a member of a task
force and be their consultant.
was close to fifty, in good health other than his wounded left leg.
And for that he had to use a cane everywhere he went. His hair was
receding and his face was etched with concentration lines. His vision
was still acute as was his hearing and he believed that he would
continue to have a good long life.
taking his usual shortcut so he would make it home by the time he told
his spouse, he found that the snow was in ruts which were more than six
inches in depth and the snow was quite wet and hard. It was difficult
to maintain his vehicle in a straight line. He thought to himself
that it had been a good idea to purchase a four by four when he moved
to the country.
behind him were approaching close at times during the last mile and
it was disconcerting. With the vehicle only about fifty feet behind,
he slowed down and pulled over to the right as far as he could.
other vehicle almost immediately passed and for a scary few seconds,
Tim found himself in a white out. Nothing could be seen with the
blinding white snow.
realized that it was a truck that was used to haul grain and it had a
trailer constructed in the same size as the box behind the tractor.
The truck could haul hundreds of bushels of wheat.
uttered out loud to himself, “Stupid jerk,” and he
thought other names as well.
were glimpses of tail lights and as they approached the road into the
valley where the lake was located, Tim slowed down. The bank was
steep and in order to allow motorists to gradually move down to a
more level road, there was a curve to the right that flowed gradually
down the side of the bank. There was still a great deal of snow in
the air but it seemed like the truck had disappeared as it maneuvered
Tim realized that the trailer at the back end of the rig was sideways
across the narrow road and indeed, it was headed down over the edge
into the heavy forest. It appeared that the driver had lost control
and the tractor took off in one direction and the trailer followed.
slammed his brakes and came to a stop close to where the truck was
lodged. First things first, he thought, phone 911 and he did.
grabbed his Maglite and extracted himself carefully from the cab and
stepped to the edge of the road. The truck was about fifty feet down
the steep bank that Tim realized that a person could not navigate the
slope without a dangerous fall.
shone the light on the truck cab and he noticed a motion. The
driver’s side door was under the cab and the man was in the
process of crawling out the passenger door.
yelled at him and asked if he was hurt.
man answered that he was hurting from the bouncing he had endured and
that he would have bruises.
God, Tim echoed, you are a lucky man.” The driver then tried to
climb up to the road. The trees and shrubbery have been swept clean
by the truck and trailer and there was nothing left to hold onto. So,
all he could do is try to dig in, but it was extremely difficult.
let him know that he didn’t have a rope to throw down to him
and he wasn’t able enough to help him.
don’t you walk to the rear of the truck and see if you could
get up at that point.?
man answered that he would and disappeared into the forest. A few
minutes later, he was heard to say, “It’s not that much
better here. The snow is so deep and I can’t seem to get
through the shrubbery.”
keep trying, Tim hollered, the fire and rescue are on their way.”
the fire crew arrived, they had to help the driver onto the road. He
was out of breath and could hardly speak. He said in a
breathless voice “that the truck was leaning against the trees
but there have been some more breaking because of the weight.
Police arrived as well and wanted to know what happened when they
were introduced to the truck driver.
Hamilton, his name tag on his uniform, asked, “And what is your
name, address and occupation?”
driver replied, "that before I give my information someone
should check the car that ended up under or near the truck.”
officer looked at him and turned to the rescue people, “Did you
hear what he said, there’s a car behind the truck?”
of the rescue team immediately grabbed a long rope and strapped a
belt around his partner and decided that he should go down directly
to the truck and if not too dangerous, move around the truck and
check the car and its occupants.
Constable turned back to the driver and said, “Now, I need all
your personal information and tell me what happened.”
driver gave his name, Reg Earnshaw, and all other personal items.
Then he hesitated, and said, “I came down around the curve and
my rig jackknifed to the left the box and trailer quickly followed
the tractor. The trailer hit the small car and I guess it pushed the
it all the way down there,” he pointed.
fast were you going?”
really don’t exactly know, it wasn’t very fast and there
was a lot of snow,” Earnshaw related.
searcher radioed back from the other side of the truck. “It is
not good; I’ve located the car and see there are two people in
it. They are both alive, but not sure if they are hurt. I don’t
know how we are going to get them out because, the truck box is
virtually covering the car. There is just part of the back window
visible., besides the snow is deep down here and we will have
difficulty moving and preparing to extract the people from the car.”
Fire Chief answered and asked the searcher to return to the road.
fireman pulled his way up the hill. “Chief, I don’t know
how we can get them out of the car until we move the truck. If we
were to cut through under the truck, it might, I mean it will,
probably drop further.”
Fire Chief and Constable Hamilton said, “We need a big tow
ambulance with it’s lights flashing came to a stop near the
they mentioned a tow truck, a man came forward that no one had
noticed because of every person’s attention on the car and all
the lights that were flashing, “I’m here,” and
showed his vest.
Chief looked back at the tow truck and immediately said, “That’s
only a three or four ton and we need one much larger than that.”
tow truck driver spoke into his radio and then reported that there
were two tow trucks coming out from the city in about thirty minutes.
Constable suggested that they look at the driver and introduced him.
To the driver, he ordered, “You will give me all your
information at the rear of the ambulance. And if they say that you
are not in any danger, you stay anyway.”
said, “Yes sir,” and left with the ambulance EMT.
the meantime, the Constable organized the vehicles so that the large
tow trucks could maneuver. Two of the Chiefs and the two new truck
drivers collected what they needed to either cut open the car or
crack one of the doors. They slid down with a rope and harness on
not sure that the tow trucks can get situated on this narrow road, I
guess they’ll figure it out.”
after the two massive tow trucks arrived. The drivers came forward
and met with the Chief and the Constable after he had finished with
agreed that for the moment, there was to be no configuration to raise
the truck out of the ravine, but just lift and hold it off the car.
was determined that indeed, the truck and trailer were full of grain.
That made the GVW at about 53500 kgs (34000 lbs.), Both tow trucks
would have to have a line on each end of the trailer and one
underneath to keep it from sliding further down the hill.
maneuvered their trucks into position.
drivers loaded their cables on their back and fastened themselves to
the one passage that led down to the truck. Once there they struggled
to get a strap over each end and connected one to the frame. Once
back on the road, they began the treacherous pull on the cables.
Fire Chief had set up large LED lights to be able to see the entire
person held his breath and was standing and observing as the cables
from the tow trucks started their grind that slowly began to move the
trailer. Sharp sounds emanated from below, obviously breaking the
trees and the creak of the trailer.
EMT who was near the trailer and car radioed up that if they could
lift the trailer another six feet and hold it there, they would be
able to open the car.
this done, the noise of a metal saw could be heard and the sparks
spread ghostly light in the forest. Then all was quiet.
Chief’s radio buzzed and informed him and the rest that both of
the occupants were alive and the extent of their injuries was being
next time the EMT radioed, he said that they would have to have some
kind of a sled that they could strap the female occupant to and
securely hold her legs because her left leg was broken.
of the firemen collected their flat board and placed extra straps on
it plus a hard cover for the patient and slid this down the hill on a
rope beside the rope that was already there. One could see the EMT
come around from the trailer and take this equipment back to where
the car was located.
also, radioed that once the female was in the ambulance, he needed
much the same kind of sled because the male, the driver, had a head
wound that looked quite serious.
an hour and a half, both patients were loaded in the ambulance and it
took off for the hospital.
the Constable released them he obtained their names and addresses. He
found that they did not have the same name. The man’s name was
Ron Gibson and the female’s name were Lynn Armstrong. Both
lived in Redmond City.
car was left where it was and the tow truckers determined how they
would bring the truck up first. One of them slid down on the
ever-present rope and worked his way to the trailer hitch. He felt
that if he could disconnect the trailer from the hitch, they could
bring it up and the tractor and box afterword He had taken some
equipment like huge plyers and hammer and a couple of other things
and the pounding of metal was loud in the wilderness. They all waited
on the road, it wasn’t very cold but it had started snowing
rescuer who had gone to disconnect the trailer radioed and asked for
someone to help him. One of the other firemen went to his partners
assistance, not long after he had gone down by the truck, a radio
call came back and the trailer was disconnected.
now moved the straps and chains so that the trailer could be pulled
up. They left the strap under the trailer in the middle and started
the slow motion bringing the structure up on the road.
unit slipped well on the snow and after a half hour they had the
trailer on the road. To move it out of the way, they unhooked both
trucks and used one to lift the front of the trailer and place it
back on the level road leading back to the city.
process started all over again to bring up the tractor and box.
Carefully so as to not damage the tractor, two chains were attached
in appropriate locations. Long soft straps were wound around the box
and the ascent started with both trucks pulling in unison. Under the
lights, it appeared that they were going to be well on the way to the
road, and then, one of the cables or the connection snapped with an
earie whistling sound flipped over one of the tow trucks.
Fortunately, no one was injured and there was no damage to the
tractor and box shifted quite a bit and there was some remedial
re-designing of the tow lines. Men slid down, came up, tried to pull
straight, and went down a few times until it was safe to pull the
tractor up on the road.
the truck was in place, the driver crawled in and it started
immediately. From there, he hooked up the trailer and turned around.
Tim had no idea where he was headed but it was in the direction of
the city. Not that it mattered he thought to himself. He decided to
stay and see them pull what was left of the car onto the road.
most of the tow truck men cleaned up straps and chains and other
equipment, another hoisted the car to the surface with ease.
went over and looked at the car. He stood, six feet in boots and the
top of the car was just waist high. “Incredible, he voiced to
the other men, it’s really a miracle that those two people
car was raised behind one tow truck and it headed off to the scrap
walked to his truck and continued on home. Now that he was late, he
had some explaining to do.
a few months after the accident that Tim had seen as a witness, he
spent time in person and on the telephone from the attorneys who were
either prosecuting or defending. As it turned out both spouses of the
couple who were stranded in the car under the grain truck, sued for
divorce. Apparently, they were having an affair and by chance were
found out and quite badly physically hurt, and mentally stressed.
day when Tim stayed at home, he uttered to his wife, “Whew, I’m
bushed. Can you believe how much the situation developed and lasted
received “that look, that’s just the way with you, always
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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