Thursday, July 2, 2009

To Ping Or Not To Ping- A True Story

Some people don't want to be found. Others.... the lost, abducted, injured, disoriented... are desperate to be found. The title of this post links you to great article on pinging. It linked me to the memory of one client, a minor, who was lost and may have been helped sooner if she had a cell phone to ping.

M. was a 17 year old girl who used a fake ID to go drinking with her 21 year old boyfriend. Her boyfriend's mom was the bartender at the place where they were partying, which was handy for the boyfriend and the mom. M. looked older than 17, bartender mom felt it was okay, because she could keep an eye on the kids, she told police.

The boyfriend and his mom rented one of the cabins behind the bar, so there was probably more alcohol than blood flowing through the family veins.

My client, illegally served both because she was a minor, and because she was evidently intoxicated, was told by her boyfriend and mom to exit the back door of the bar and walk to the cabins and go to bed. So M. exited the bar by herself. No one accompanied her.

She was in a blackout at that point, she couldn't tell me what happened next, so we sat in silence during my interview, while I studied, then photographed, the huge metal halo attached to her tiny, tattered skull by screws. All she remembered were the first two drinks... then waking up in intensive care.

What I figured happened is this.
She took either her boyfriend's car keys from the bar or the cabin. The, she got in the car, started it, and began a long drive through a very rural area we will call for these purposes Bumfruck , Egypt.

She left the bar about midnight. She was found just after 8 the next morning by a trucker who stopped by the side of the road to take a leak and saw a glint of metal, then what he thought was a big rag doll, dangling upside down from a tree. When he got closer he said, it registered. Human being, girl, just about his daughter's age.

That was the first time I heard the expression, "I almost sucked a valve". The trucker said he thought she was dead.

It was a wonder she survived, he said. Though I wouldn't exactly call that survival a blessing. Because this young lady's life is now, physically, emotionally, financially, mentally, socially in ruins.

By the time I got to and through the case and the attorney did his thing, the bartender was fired, the bar was shut down, sued, and they declared bankruptcy. There was no auto insurance on the car, so nothing for anyone.The boyfriend and mom split town, whereabouts unknown.

Now, maybe 7 years later, I still picture that little girl with the Frankenstein halo on her head, telling me her story for the first time. And I feel it as strongly now as I did then.

If someone had just said NO to her that night or all the nights before that ... NO hanging with that boy... NO drinking... NO walking back to the cabin or anywhere alone.... NO access to cars keys... NO way Jose or Miss Jose. Maybe just one NO would have prevented a lifetime of hurt.

Pinging her phone would have brought paramedics sooner. And it would have made a difference I believe, to her body physically. She just spent too many hours alone in those woods, upside down in that tree.

And if it weren't for the trucker taking the whizz, she might still be dangling, dead for certain.
Now... though alive... she is a bitter, broke, lonely young adult with a crooked neck and a cold heart that does little more than beat. Last I heard, she lives on the streets with other shattered kids.

And she re-surfaces every now and then, in my head, when I hear the word," Ping."

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