Excerpt from "In The Mind of A Mountie" by T.M. 'Scotty' Gardiner
Chapter 20: The Toddler
It was promising to be a fine summer day. I had been assigned to the l:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. shift and it was nearing the 6:45 to 7:00 a.m. period. The telephone rang.
"Policeman, you must come. My young son-in-law died last night in his sleep. Can you come?"
Confirming this initial information with a flurry of probing questions, I learned the caller lived on a farm about six miles south of Portage. Directions were obtained. I placed a call for one of Portage's two Coroners. Dr. Thomas on call that day. I started my drive to the farm.
Entering the farm yard it was easy to see the large, well-maintained farm home, its large living room window facing south. The entry door was to the right of the picture window. Parked along the house's south wall, and facing into it was the family's half-ton truck near the entry door. The funeral home hearse which arrived moments before myself, was parked a full two car spaces to the left of the truck. I pulled in to the right of the hearse. Inside the picture window, the lady, obviously a grandmother, was holding a wee boy who looked to be about a two-year-old. Looking out at my arrival, the lady's face displayed grief.
The funeral home men, there were two, entered the house with me. The lady motioned us to a doorway behind which were the stairs leading to the upstairs bedroom. There we found the young widow, mother of the wee boy, sitting beside the bed where her young husband lay dead. She had found him dead when she awoke. Although only in his mid-twenties, death was understood to be from natural causes.
Dr. Thomas arrived. Examining the body he pronounced death and assured himself natural causes had played its part. He comforted the young widow, sobbing silently in her grief. The funeral home staff and myself placed the body on a stretcher, and with some difficulty, the funeral home staff manoeuvred the stretcher down the steep staircase. In order, Dr. Thomas, the young widow and I followed.
Re-entering the living room we found it empty, the grandmother having taken the little boy outside as the body of his dad was taken out. Dr. Thomas and I exchanged the necessary data about an autopsy and other necessary details. In such circumstances a great lot is left for the police to do and then he bade the young widow goodbye with comforting words.
I stood speaking with the young widow, gathering the facts a police investigation requires. We were immediately inside the living room window, looking out. Dr. Thomas had pulled his new car, a l955 Plymouth, in the space between the truck and my police car. As such it was directly in front of the window. Entering his car he raised his hand in a typical farewell wave, then closed the car's door.
At that moment the grandmother with the toddler in tow walked from right to left outside the window. A young puppy frisked along with them. They passed the front of Dr. Thomas' car as the car slowly backed up, the car arcing slowly to the right as it cleared the end of the truck. The grandmother, toddler and the puppy had passed from sight.
While still speaking with the widow I was looking out the window. Dr. Thomas' car stopped abruptly while simultaneously he jumped from the car and ran around to his right front wheel, now a step or two to the rear of the truck. He bent down, picked up the body of the wee boy his right front wheel had just run over. He raised the lad aloft in his right hand. The wee body draped over like a rag doll. My heart stopped!
Dr. Thomas rushed to the driver's side yelling, "Scotty, I ran over the boy! Phone the emergency ward, tell them I'll be right there!"
The widow, this wee lad's mother who had moments before seen her husband carried out, saw and heard all of this. Her composure completely left her, as it had the grandmother who now rushed in shock into the living room.
I had to act quickly. Notifying the emergency ward took priority. Of necessity I momentarily abandoned the two women now in uncontrollable, and totally understandable, outbursts of grief. Realizing Dr. Thomas had about six miles to drive I had a few minutes leeway. I telephoned to the Detachment -- it's always easy to explain the unexplainable to a police colleague, and there would be no time spent on useless discussion. My colleague acted with haste. The hospital was alerted.
That done I returned to comforting the two women. That is not an easy task: my own sadness was creeping in, all I could think of was the sunny morning, that nice new car, its weight, and that tiny little toddler limp as a rag doll, the young mother just widowed and the grandmother whose care of the little lad had momentarily lapsed. I felt, as did the women, the wee chap was dead but I had to give them hope, distant to seemingly impossible as that was.
By reconstructing the probabilities, it seemed that after passing in front of Dr. Thomas' car and then the front of the family truck, the puppy must have scampered to the rear area of the truck, possibly attracted by Dr. Thomas' car's motion. The toddler, who had been tagging along holding onto his Grandmother's clothes must have let go without her notice, and followed the puppy. Being somewhere at the rear of the truck placed the boy directly in the path of the reversing and right-arcing right front wheel, the wheel now being angled 'outside' the fender well. The little lad, thus positioned, could not be seen by the driver. Dr. Thomas would be unaware of any mishap until he drove a few feet back from where he could see the wee body lying on the ground. It was but a matter of a few seconds between the time the grandmother, toddler and puppy passed in front of the window until Dr. Thomas was picking up the little body.
Arrangements were made and friends and relatives arrived, allowing me to take my leave. I drove slowly back to the Detachment in that bright morning sun. I went into the Detachment, all but fearing the worst. But hope held out. Dr. Thomas phoned. The wheel of his car had gone over the wee lad's midriff. Miraculously, no bones were broken. X-rays showed a small shadow at the end of his liver diagnosed as a little blood that had been squeezed out. No surgery was necessary. The young fellow was recovering and would soon go home. Dr. Thomas had notified the wee lad's mother.
I went off shift with my thoughts.
Copyright 2010, T.M. Gardiner
Read an excerpt: Chapter 44: The Case of the Doctored Coins.