Our youngest daughter was at a birthday party and had decided to spend the night. After dinner, Christiane and I drove down to Dorval with her sleeping bag and a change of clothes. We were on Sources, next to the airport fence, when the cars ahead started swerving in all directions and then stopped. I felt my wife grab my arm.
Andre arrete, y’a un corps sur la route! (Andre stop, there’s a body on the street).
I grabbed my cell, got out of the car and started dialing 911. One car ahead of us was a pair of sandals, a bicycle, a messenger bag and a couple of broken plastic jugs that seemed to contain some kind of moonshine. We’ll never forget that smell nor will I forget the anguished cries of one of the drivers.
A few meters back, a man in his mid-fifties was lying face down and unconscious. There wasn’t much blood but the shape of his body seemed odd. I still remember some of my first aid training from 20 years ago but my help was not needed. Two men were already turning him over.
“Guys I’m not sure this is a good idea” I said.
“It’s ok we’re first responders and I can’t feel his pulse”. I later learned that both were wilderness guides and it was obvious by the way they turned him that these two knew what they were doing. Thus reassured, I concentrated on keeping the 911 operator fully informed.
The victim’s breathing and heart rate were very faint and I could tell from his skin tone and the tire marks over his chest that he was probably suffering from massive internal bleeding. A few minutes later, one of the guys got in position to perform CPR but one look from his companion made us understand that it was probably hopeless.
I had previously told the 911 operator to inform the paramedics that the southbound lanes were completely blocked. We saw the ambulance coming up on the northbound lane but, unfortunately, they didn’t see us waving like crazy and had to turn around and fight their way through the congested street. Others had already taken over traffic management and the rest of us soon joined in. Screaming at rubberneckers certainly helped calm our nerves.
When the paramedics finally arrived they cut open the victim’s shirt and installed a heart monitor. Flatline. There were no heroic attempts at resuscitation.
During the next hour, I learned that the victim was riding on the left side of the road when he was hit by the first car in our group and thrown under a second vehicle. I noticed that his bike did not have a rear reflector, that he was wearing dark clothes and was not wearing a helmet. Whether he had sampled any of that moonshine will have to wait the results of the blood tests.
Such a waste.
Just in case you’re wondering, no I did not have my camera with me at the time. Actually I’m pretty sure that I would not have used it if I had.