Stories by Professionals

A Personal Experience

by DC Diane Fry, York Regional Police Department,
Newmarket, Ontario, Canada

Personally, I was a Registered Nurse prior to becoming a police officer. Fortunately for me, I have only had a few experiences where a child has died. Each one of those children does remain in my memory. It is a very helpless feeling to not be able to save a child. It is devastating to know that the child will not be able to experience all the things that life has to offer.

On the Labour Day weekend a couple of years ago, I was off-duty and with some friends doing a tour of the Kitchener Waterloo area. We witnessed a terrible car accident and I was the first person to get to the scene. Two cars had collided and one was hit directly on the passenger side by a vehicle travelling at highway speeds. I remember the driver of the car who had hit this car, walking around in a dazed horror. He was not responsible for the accident but was clearly very much in shock at what had happened. As I reached the car, I saw five severely injured persons trapped. There were three adults, a teenaged girl and a boy of about 8 years of age. Four of the persons were unconscious. The driver was in shock. The nurse in me took charge and I knew I had to deal with the little boy first. He was not breathing and was already turning blue. It was impossible to do anything for him in the car. I got someone to help me. We took the little boy out of the car, trying to maintain a straight spine. He wasn't breathing and that was the priority. I began artificial respiration on this little boy and found I couldn't concentrate on anything else. He was my entire focus. The police arrived and they must have arranged for a helicopter to attend. I did artificial respiration until the ambulance personnel took over. I knew the little boy was severely injured. He vomited once during artificial respiration and never regained consciousness while I was with him. I was so focussed that even the vomit did not deter my focus. He was a beautiful blond haired boy. When they took him away, I learned that his mother, who had been in the front seat of the car had gone into cardiac arrest. I heard other people saying they knew CPR so I had let them deal with the other people. The teenager and the adult in the backseat remained unconscious.

After the ambulance personnel had taken all these people away, my friends and I drove to a fast food restaurant. It was at least 10 minutes before I started to react to what I had seen. I began to physically shake and couldn't stop. For the rest of the weekend, my friends and I prayed for the people involved My friends expressed horror and feeling helpless because they did know how to help. We prayed for all of the people involved in the accident and couldn't stop talking about the horror.

Awhile later, I contacted the investigating officer and learned that the little boy had lived for eight days before he succumbed to his injuries. I learned that his mother had also died and that the teenaged girl was still in coma. The teenaged girl was the boy's cousin. I have said many prayers for the father of the little boy. He must have had a very difficult time since he was the driver and survived. My prayers are with him. I hope that this experience will be of some relevance to someone. I have looked at the topics you suggested and they are all a challenge to address. In most cases, the circumstances and the people involved will dictate the answers to the topics. Grieving is an individual thing and each person has to do it in the way that works for them. I try to let people know that there are resources out there to help. I refer people to our Victims Assistance personnel and/or to their family doctor. I warn people that anger is a part of grieving and that irreparable damages can be done to the remaining family relationships by venting this anger on each other. I believe counselling, if only to resolve and vent anger, is essential.

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