The Acquittal of O.J. Simpson: Ten Years After
Much is being made about the tenth anniversary of the "not guilty" verdict in the O.J. Simpson murder trial. There are television and news stories, interviews, and talk show discussions virtually everywhere.
Clearly, the families of the victims will be adversely affected eternally by the crimes and the verdict. The racial landscape of the States hasnt made much improvement since October 3, 1995 either. But with so many people claiming to have a personal connection to the trial I wonder why I am not really affected.
Looking back I recall watching the famous white Bronco chase and subsequent trial. I laughed at the Dancing Lance Itos on Jay LenoONCE! I did spend an unnecessary amount of time following the case. It was my guilty pleasure and I made no apologies.
O.J. Simpson (AP Photo)On the day of the shocking conclusion to the Trial of the Century, I had absolutely no interest. There was no outrage inside me, no amazement, & no loss of faith in the legal system at all. However, I had a much different perspective about the lunacy of the event, thanks to what happened to me the previous afternoon.
On October 2nd I was heading back from southern Ohio. The 5-hour trip back home had me heading up I-65 at a brisk pace. Just before Rensselaer, Indiana, I was forced suddenly to hit the brakes. As I came to a stop an awful accident in the road ahead of me was rolling to its conclusion.
This was a dreadful crash involving a flatbed trailer carrying a load of steel pipes, the semi towing it, and a blue Ford Mustang. The driver of the Mustang, originally heading south on I-65 had decided to change direction and head north, using the authority vehicles only lane in the median to make her illegal U-turn. She pulled out directly in front of the semi trailer.
I only saw the aftermath of the impact as it came to a halt. The driver of the semi apparently swerved at a high rate of speed out of the way, barely glancing against a second semi trailer. The maneuver, while skillful, did not prevent a collision with the Mustang, and the little car was obliterated.
The semi flipped over onto its topside and the trailer, now twisted one half-turn, unleashed its payload and blocked all traffic lanes.
I was only the second or third car on the scene. I, along with at few other drivers, got out of my vehicle to help the victims.
The Mustang and its contents were scattered everywhere. Initially, I ran towards the semi, as I could see the driver stumbling out of his upturned cabin. As I walked through the glazing of diesel fuel on the pavement, I couldnt help but take my eyes away from the truck and trailer in the distance. My attention became focused on the ever-growing pools of blood leading to the still, lifeless body of the Mustangs driver. I was a little frightened at the prospect of bearing witness to the final moments of this womans life.
She was face down in the street. Her clothes were torn and her body viciously contorted. Large gashes were strewn about her arms, legs, and back. A mammoth and unnatural looking humplike protrusion pushed out from the base of her head. I was certain she had a broken neck and that I was staring at a dead woman.
I stood there trying to calm myself and determine how I could best help the situation. Another driver arrived at her body about the same time I did. We stared for a moment and then spoke.
You think shes dead, he asked?
Probably. Hard to tell. She could have a broken neck, I said.
Well we should probably check her pulse, he said hesitantly.
Yeah. I guess we should, I said, agreeing.
There was a pause that grew and grew until the other driver broke the silence.
Well? Go ahead then.
Now why on Earth did this guy figure that I was the man to determine life or death in this instance? What part of the above conversation suggested that I was the qualified physician here? I responded in kind.
Go aheadand do what?
Without hesitation he replied, Check her pulse. You said we should check her pulse.
I said? Now I didnt want to get into an argument over a dead womans body here, but this guy was clearly delusional.
I AGREED we should check her pulse, but I didnt volunteer for the job, I told him.
Well certainly YOU should check her pulse, he said, You WERE the first man here. You should do it.
In a Seinfeldian moment I quickly chimed back, Do I look like a doctor?
You said shes got a broken neck, he snapped.
I said she COULD have a broken neck. I didnt say that she indeed HAD a broken neck! COULD! Kind of how you said we SHOULD check her pulse. COULD and SHOULD are not She HAS and I WOULD!
He was afraid of touching a dead woman. I was afraid of making the situation worse. Ive always known some basic first aid and I knew that you really shouldnt move an injured person, especially if you were a JUGGLER and not a DOCTOR. Before the argument became even more surreal I went ahead and agreed that I WOULD check her pulse.
Yep! I'm Gonna Be a Lotta Help!I surveyed the womans body and took a deep breath. I kneeled down, inching my hand closer and closer to her neck. My hand trembled a little before I composed myself and found the strength to give this dead woman the dignity of human contact and concern. I knew what to do, how to do it, and I was poised and ready to feel her still warm skin for confirmation of her demise. I would have done it, too, were it not for one small problem. She was still very much alive.
An inch before touching her neck she started moving, trying to push her body up from the ground.
SHIT, I thought to myself, What the HELL am I going to do now?
In an instant everything had changed.
I knew what to do if she were dead. I wouldnt have to carry the responsibility that comes with giving aid to someone who COULD die if I did the wrong thing. But this gal, WAS alive and she was severely injured. Her very attempts to get up could have killed her, and I would be the guy who did or didnt contribute to her death. THIS, while surely better for her, was NOT better by a long shot!
I went through what little first aid I had stored in my brain from my Cub Scout days. I kept her quiet and settled, applied direct pressure to the head to stop bleeding - I knew enough to keep the situation calm. I told the other guy, now completely freaking out, to go find the driver of the truck and call for help on his CB radio. I remained and did everything I could to keep this woman from moving and bleeding.
Thankfully, a short few minutes later, an off-duty paramedic who saw the accident came to give aid. I told him everything I knew about what happened. We both tried to get the womans name and determine the extent of her injuries. Later, I went to check in on the driver of the truck, who was mercifully, unharmed.
I did what I could help the paramedic. A large crowd of people had gathered on the highway. I was about to go back to my car and wait things out. He thanked me for my help and for taking good care of the woman. I took one step away before I heard the woman speak.
Is my baby alive?
I was aware of the wreckage, but until then I had not really LOOKED at the debris on the road. I started seeing things I didnt want to see. A car seat, torn baby clothes, a diaper bag, bottles, tiny little shoes. The paramedic got her to repeat herself.
My baby. Wheres my son?
He asked her if her son was indeed in the car with her. She couldnt remember. She only asked repeatedly, Where is my baby?
One last inquiry from the paramedic produced the answer none of us wanted to hear: He was with me. Wheres he now?
What once was triage was now search-and-rescue. The paramedic ordered the bystanders to search the wreckage & the roadside. He leaned towards me and whispered, Somebody SHOULD check the ditches. There would be no comical conflict here. I headed toward the roadside.
Things were quiet, which made things more eerie for me. I knew that unless the baby was unconscious or dead wed be hearing crying. There was no crying.
PLEASE, God dont let me find the dead baby, I thought. I searched and collected bloody clothes and other items along the way, certain I was inches away from yet another horrible sight. As I made my way into the ditch the paramedic called, Wait! She says hes with his father. A huge sigh of relief could be heard throughout the crowd.
I did what little more that I could to help. Eventually the paramedic sent most of us away from the scene. He waited with the woman for an ambulance. I went back to my car.
I had to get out of there. In a little twist of irony, I used the illegal U-turn portion of the highway to make my exit. I headed south and found a place to stop, eat, and quietly panic.
Any problems I had were minor by comparison. When I arrived home I collapsed, made a few phone calls, and cried. I was exhausted and scared. I was pleased with myself for being calm when it mattered, but angry I couldnt do any more for her. I called in sick from the next days work and fell asleep almost immediately.
Good for You, Jerk!When I woke up the next morning, I turned on the TV just in time to hear the OJ verdict read on every station my set received clearly. Everyone in the world was watching. The trial was over and OJ was found not guilty. I smirked and said, Big fucking deal. Good for you. I turned off the TV and took a long walk.
I was embarrassed Id ever given any of my valuable time to this travesty of justice. I was angry that anyone OTHER than the families and friends of the people directly involved with the case even gave a damn about OJ and Nicole.
Was it a tragedy? Yes. Do I wish that justice had been properly served? Sure. Was it any of my damn business in the first place? Hell no! These were people that had no impact on my life, people I didnt know, people that had no business being in my thoughts at all and I treated the trial like destination television.
The day before I actually played a part in a tragedy involving people I didnt know and realized that what we do within our own lives matters more than anything else. As far as I was concerned it was high time I paid more attention to the people in my life.
The folks who were glued to their sets were sad people with nothing of any substance to fulfill their existence. I was one of them for a while, but I learned from my mistakes. I owe a lot to that wounded woman, the semi, and the mangled Mustang.
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