Friday, August 12, 2011

Four Kids Who Lived Dangerously And Died

No one likes to hear about children dying. We think they're off limits to the harder side of life. And if we can spare them anything unpleasant, of course we would. But when it comes to life, no one is off limits. Terrible things happen all the time, whoever you are.

You can be just out playing -- an innocent child -- and wham, that's it. We read something in the news practically every week. Some little honyock will do something totally stupid and be killed. Once in a while you'll hear a happier story. He's injured in a drastic way, then, with a long hospital stay, gets out and learns to handle whatever handicaps he now faces.

It is my sincere wish that no one would ever face anything like this. Certainly if I could spare anyone the agony, I would. But, heck, even I have had close calls. I fell through the ice once while checking traps when I was a kid and about died. This could have been my story!

But the stories today are about others. They lived, however briefly, then died, while the rest of us have somehow managed to go on ... perhaps till tomorrow.

1) Joey -- There's nothing so unusual about Joey's story. He did stupid things like any other kid, only his stupidity turned out to be fatal. The value of Joey's story is to remind us adults, those of us who drive, to double check under our cars before we take off.

Wow, I'm saying we should double check under our cars, but I never do. Because you're not expecting anyone to be under your car. If I had to double check under my car everyday, I wouldn't have time for anything else. OK, it only takes a few seconds, now that I think of it. But then what? Do we need to check under our hoods, too?

What happened to Joey, you can deduce it from the above. He crawled under a car, a stupid place to hide when playing Hide 'n' Seek. The neighbor guy got in his car and backed out, with Joey of course being smashed by the low hanging car parts. He was dragged a block, then pronounced dead on the spot.

What more can I say? He wasn't very bright.

2) Terry -- Terry had a major argument with his dad about his allowance not being enough to pay his bills. He was in pretty deep, owing quite a few of the neighbor kids for cans of soda, school supplies, and spray paint. And they were squeezing him to get the money somehow.

Long story short, his dad refused to budge, and Terry was too ashamed of his debts to come clean. My personal opinion on this, the dad would have understood. And he would have worked out something for Terry. Terry was a sweet kid, at least before he fell in with a bad crowd, and went out spray painting everyone's mailbox, garages, signs, etc.

Well, you can see where this is going. He couldn't tell the other kids no, so he went through his dad's wallet and lifted $200, enough that his dad had to notice. This is where it gets bad. The dad blew his top, Terry ran, and hid in a dumpster behind one of the gas stations. It just so happened the garbage truck was coming. And before he could cry out, if that would have been his intention, he was lifted and dumped in the truck and compacted. At the sorting center they found him cube-shaped. Dead.

Terry, everyone misses him, and getting in the dumpster was dumb. Still, giving him a little credit, you don't expect the garbage guy to just show up like that.

2) Susan -- Susan was known for various daredevil antics, exactly the kind of stuff that might have killed her years before. But she thought she lived a charmed life, that nothing could hurt her. So she'd be going from trampoline to trampoline and trying other tricks, hoping maybe she might someday be in the circus.

I remember her going by on a bike, and anything that even vaguely resembled a ramp, she'd flip her bike over it, anything for a thrill. Then it was skateboards, going down rails on staircases, etc. And of course no helmet, no knee pads, no protection.

But she was young and believed she was indestructible. Her death came in a tight wire stunt, mostly because it wasn't regulation equipment, just the crap a kid puts together. She and some of the other kids strung a rope between two buildings, then out the window she went. She had seen enough of it to know you needed a big stick for balance, but I think her stick wasn't big enough. It was a walking stick, which are only about 8 feet long. You need a bigger stick than that.

She got maybe 7 feet out from the window, then, they say, had a sickening look of fear on her face before staggering and grasping at the rope, which she missed. In a second, she was on the ground, crumpled. They said every bone in her body was broken, and you know what, I believe it.

4) Dolores -- Dolores' story is not much different from the others. She was a bright kid, but she somehow got the idea that the rules didn't apply to her. But it's one of those sad cases where she learned, or would have learned, except by the time it happened, it was over.

If they would have had maybe five more minutes with her, just five minutes, they might have steered her right. But that's what we always think when it's too late. If you're going to teach your kid for five minutes what she needs to know to survive, you better do it now. Because by the time they open the gate, grab a red cape, and walk out there, if you're not there to help, it's going to be too late.

It could have been as simple as this, that Dolores had an incurable lust for adventure. That's the only thing I can think of. I never saw her as stupid, just a little high strung, thinking adventure was hers. Maybe she saw too many movies. Maybe she read too much. It might have been better to keep her from books, movies, and anything adventurous. Then they might still have her ... but now she's gone.

She thought she could go into the field and fight one of the family bulls. What is there to it? You dangle a red cape and the bull misses you. Until it doesn't miss, then you're impaled unceremoniously and hoisted overhead. The family discovered her laid out on the red cape, the bull munching grass only a little distance away.

FINIS -- I know these are bad stories. But they're real. And we can learn from them. Don't do anything stupid and maybe you'll live. Living dangerously is a great way to die.

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