This isn’t the joyous and triumphant return to blogging that I’d hoped for.
6:00 Tuesday morning. I sat at the dispatch desk streaming a movie and trying to stay awake. With the students gone on break for a week, there isn’t a whole lot to do. All at once, my phone buzzed. It was the app the ambulance I work for uses to announce calls. Not being on duty with them, I glanced at it in passing.
“One car MVA with injuries.” The address was extremely close to where I live, just a few hundred yards as the crow flies. I closed the app, and went back to my efforts to stay awake for another hour until the day shift came to relieve me.
The drive home was uneventful, until I came to the intersection of my road and the state road. The state road was closed. Several fire trucks blocked it, and a few tired-looking firefighters directed traffic up the hill on my road to skirt around what I had deduced was the accident site.
I recognized a few of the guys, and thought about stopping, but I was exhausted, and there was a line of cars behind me. I went on up the hill, went home, saw the wife and little one off to pre-school, and went to bed.
At noon my wife woke me up, which is a little out of character.
“Do you know anything about that accident?”
“Only that it was with injuries. It came through on my phone.”
“It was a County Sheriff’s Deputy.” At this point, my sleepiness vanished as she said “Haverly.”
My stomach knotted at the catch in her voice, and I asked the next question, already knowing the answer. “Fatal?”
The fucking world stopped.
When I started my first PD job, Deputy Haverly was one of the night guys from the county assigned to my zone. As a result, we saw a lot of each other. We spent quite a bit of time parked side-by-side running radar, backing each other up on traffic stops, and shagging calls together, including one where a crazed woman threatened to call the police on us if we didn’t get off her porch.
In short, he became a friend. We talked about a lot of things, both personal and professional. He gave me advice on what to do with the circumstances which led to my resignation from that first job, and offered to help me find another gig. Even after I left, we kept in touch, texting through late-night shifts.
It had been some time though, since we last spoke. And now he’s gone.
He leaves behind a fiancee and three young kids.
My entire county is in shock. He’d only had four years on the job, but he was damn good at it, and loved what he did.
We all know the risks that come with the uniform and the job. None of us are strangers to the idea that a ‘bad day’ at work means you might not come home. We’ve all seen the headlines, read the stories, and seen the news reports on TV about line of duty deaths. Unfortunately, they come with the job. But, like any other tragedy, we have a tendency to greet them with a bit detachment since they’re always ‘someplace else.’
We forget, that we are all ‘someplace else’ to ‘someone else.’
This time, it happened here.
On Monday, I attend my first police funeral. I told my supervisor I might need time off to attend, to which he replied “I already figured” and had started making arrangements to cover for me.
As shaken as I am, I cannot imagine how the brothers and sisters of the Sheriff’s office are dealing with this. They’re a top-notch organization with an exceptional esprit-de-corps. You can see it whenever you train or work with them. They’re excellent.
My worry also, is for the men and women who responded with my ambulance that morning. One of them, the driver, is another police officer, a veteran. He recanted the experience to me briefly via text, and it was enough to damn near break me as I sat having lunch with my son in a diner yesterday.
So, on Monday, a family of blood will mourn alongside a family of blue.
I don’t really know what else to say to be honest. It feels good writing about it. I don’t really feel like talking about anything with another person, but there’s a sort of vague comfort about talking about it to a handful of strangers on the internet.
Deputy Haverly was genuinely a good guy. Every time we met, he had a smile on his face. He worked hard, loved his job, loved his family, and would do anything for his friends. I’m glad as hell I got to call him a friend, and even happier that I can call him a brother.