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I saw a man die, and I could do nothing

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  • I saw a man die, and I could do nothing

    Yesterday was a pretty tragic day for me. I was on my way home from church, stopped by my brothers to pick up some flowers for my mom that I left in his fridge, then was on my way to my mom's house down Medical Drive. I was at a stop light, when CRASH, a driver in a Jeep Grand Cherokee ran a red light and t-boned a man driving a 2-door Chevy Cavalier. They spun around and stopped no more than 6 feet in front of me. I jumped out of my car to see if they were ok, and the man who got hit was slumped forward and blood gushing out his mouth. At first I was worried about spinal cord injuries, so I didn't want to move him too much, but the car seemed to be catching fire, so I had to act fast. The door was completely crushed in on him, and the other side was locked, I had to rip the keys from his dash, which was collapsed on itself, ran to the other side, and with the help of a surgeon and a physician who ran up, we pried the door open. We tried dragging the man out, who was still barely alive, but his legs were trapped and crushed. So someone found a crowbar in his trunk, and we tried everything to get that damned door open. The doctor then told us the man was dead and there was nothing we could do. Basically, we think his heart was ripped from his aorta. The EMS and Fire Dept was there in minutes, but there was nothing they could do.

    I've never felt so helpless in my life. I wanted to save this man's life so bad, but I was unable to. I can't shake the image of the car crash out of my head. I keep replaying the whole scene over and over. Seeing a man die like that was pretty tough. His life snuffed out in the blink of an eye. I don't know who he was or anything, but I can't stop thinking about him or his family. The guy who hit him was pretty banged up, but could walk. He was completely freaking out. He kept saying, "I didn't see the light." I do honestly feel really bad for him. I'm sure that's going to haunt him for the rest of his life.

    Have any of you ever dealt with failing to save a life? I'm having a bit of a tough time coping with it and just needed to share my story.

    Here's the link to the local news article and the video:
    http://www.woai.com/news/local/story...0-ba9f475f3f22
    The video: http://www.woai.com/mediacenter/loca...com&navCatId=5
    "Common sense is not so common." -Voltaire

  • #2
    Re: I saw a man die, and I could do nothing

    You did well in trying to save someone from a horrible accident. Even though the guy died at the scene, I'm sure his family thanks you for trying to save his life. Your family is probably proud of what you did.

    I'm just wondering what happened to the other driver? Someone like that is dangerous to be allowed behind a wheel a again.

    (No clue what else to say)
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    • #3
      Re: I saw a man die, and I could do nothing

      You did something and sometimes, that is all you can do. Unfortunately, that won't make the feeling of helplessness go away. As soon as the impact happened, there was nothing you could have done to save him.

      I'm sorry you had to experience such a horrible thing. :(
      sigpic

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      • #4
        Re: I saw a man die, and I could do nothing

        I hope this doesn't come across as preachy cause that isn't what I am aiming for but here goes.....

        As long as you can look yourself in the eye and know you did all you could have done then you should not shoulder any guilt (easier said than done, I know). What you can take from it is now you know how fragile life can be and try to live everyday as if it may be your last one. Know that every time you walk out your door or a loved one walks down the street that may be the last time you see them. Life is but a flame that dances in the wind and burns with a passion when fed the proper fuels but at the same time it can be snuffed out in a blink of an eye.

        Again I hope this doesn't come across as preachy just a different way to look at the tragedy you experienced. I wish you well in your healing process
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        • #5
          Re: I saw a man die, and I could do nothing

          you did a very honorable thing. Most people want nothing to do with people dieing and just turn the other way. The fact that you lent your support to that man speaks for itself.

          My words MAY be falling upon deaf ears, but hopefully one day you can truly understand that you did the right thing. Its not your fault that the man was hit. Just by getting out of your car and lending a hand says something about who you are as a person. My deepest respect to you.

          He endured a few minutes of pain for an eternity of tranquility and happiness. We all will die one day, and this mans time happened to be while he was driving home. Its all part of the great circle of life.


          The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.-Ulysses S. Grant

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          • #6
            Re: I saw a man die, and I could do nothing

            In reality, you did do everything you possibly could.
            And in theory, depending on what you believe, he's either in a better place, or it was his time.. etc..

            Im sort of.. Morally ignorant to death, it just doesn't phase me.. I dont want to sound mean or heartless (which I may think I am) but thats just the truth... people live, and people die..

            People just die rough and gruesome.

            ~Sirsolo
            |TG-Irr|Sirsolo since 18OCT08.

            Carpe Diem

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            • #7
              Re: I saw a man die, and I could do nothing

              You can always pray for him, for his family, and for the man who killed him.
              Not necessarily "Dear Lord," etc., but hope good things for them.

              Wish them peace, wish them comfort, ask for their pain to be healed...even if you aren't sure of Whom/What you are asking these things. The fact that they are good things, that you care, and are willing to appeal to something outside yourself to try and obtain good things for others--this is what heals.

              Many cultures, philosophies and religions seem to feel strongly that there is great spiritual value in this approach. By asking and wishing and working for peace and comfort for others, the heart can continue to do something for those we feel we couldn't do all we wished to. This action in itself, can likewise bring great peace and comfort for the one who does so.


              Wishing you peace and comfort.

              Axis
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              • #8
                Re: I saw a man die, and I could do nothing

                There regrettably is no amount of words that can accurately convey what happens in a moment like this one. Like others have said this is a demon that you will have to come to terms with. Myself I have been lucky, death has affected my life, but never as dramatically as is has for you this past week.

                I have friends that have served, civilian and military, some EMT, others USMC. Of them a few have seen things that I can only have nightmares about. They too will never forget what they have seen, yet very few let it get to them outright, not anymore. They remember, one to this day still sheds a tear or two for the fallen, but all have been able to move on. I guess what I'm trying to say in all this ramble is that time will heal the wounds. You will never be able to forget, nor should you. But in time things will make peace with themselves, and with you.

                ~ Draken

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                • #9
                  Re: I saw a man die, and I could do nothing

                  My friend and I had to stand by as four teenagers burned to death trapped inside a car after a head on collision. We could hear them screaming but could not get to them to pull them out. I cannot say I know how you feel, cause you actually DID something. We actually WERE helpless.

                  Thanks for the walk down memory lane, btw. I had not thought of that in years.... which in itself may or may not bring you hope for your guilt.
                  Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -Albert Einstein
                  The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity. -Harlan Ellison

                  If all else fails: "rm -rf /"

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                  • #10
                    Re: I saw a man die, and I could do nothing

                    You stopped and helped. You did your part. **** happens, pardon the language. Move on and keep your head up, knowing now that you reacted as well as you possibly could. Many would have simply stared not knowing what to do, and many, many others would've simply slowed down enough to rubberneck and then continue on.

                    Now go and hug your loved ones.

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                    • #11
                      Re: I saw a man die, and I could do nothing

                      I had a similar case of feeling helpless during a tragedy. My dad fell out of his tree stand and broke his femur in the middle of the woods. He shouted my name at the top of his lungs and I ran out there. I felt like I didn't do anything because the only thing I did was talk to him and get help. Although my feeling of helplessness does not compare to yours, you did everything you could to help and unfortunately you couldn't save them. Remember, it's not your fault.

                      Originally posted by Gillespie View Post
                      Many would have simply stared not knowing what to do, and many, many others would've simply slowed down enough to rubberneck and then continue on.
                      What I don't get is that everybody says they'll help someone in a dangerous situation but you don't know they'll help until it happens.




                      "Certainly, being bombarded with 105 millimeter shells is bad. But the knowledge that you've armed your enemy thus, with your sloth and your ineptitude, unfolds in the heart like a poison." Tycho from Penny Arcade in reference to the nuke in MW2

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                      • #12
                        Re: I saw a man die, and I could do nothing

                        Originally posted by War.mongeR1 View Post
                        Have any of you ever dealt with failing to save a life?
                        There's your problem. You think that you somehow failed. In actuality, you did not fail. You succeeded in making this world a better place, even if only by showing people that the right thing to do is to get involved instead of just watching the world go by.

                        Sure, it sucks that dude died, but that's certainly not your fault. How many people have told you that you did everything that you possibly could? How many more do you think have to tell you until you realize that it's true? And how many more after that until you realize that it doesn't matter that it's true, that you still feel bad that dude died? It's life and it happened right in front of you. Some people don't experience that until they're on their own deathbed. You, lucky or not, get the wisdom gained from it right now.
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                        • #13
                          Re: I saw a man die, and I could do nothing

                          Originally posted by War.mongeR1 View Post
                          Have any of you ever dealt with failing to save a life?
                          Yes, and it sucks. Big time. Time will help, just know that eventually the replay loop and the feeling of helplessness will go away. It also helps to tell your story to someone, and tell it again. It'll get a little easier every time.

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                          • #14
                            Re: I saw a man die, and I could do nothing

                            As someone who has lost someone very close, I can tell you the best thing to do is not to internalize your feelings. Find someone you can talk to about it, someone you can share everything you are feeling and let it out. It hurts, but I think the knowledge you did the right thing and everything in your power should offer you some comfort. If you ever need someone to listen, just hit me up with a PM.

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                            • #15
                              Re: I saw a man die, and I could do nothing

                              I'll echo what everyone else here said: you did the right thing. But it really goes beyond that. Sure, there may have been something that you could have done if you were superman, but as a normal human being, you did all you could have possibly done. Do you know how many people would have just sat there and done nothing or even drove away? More than you really want to imagine.

                              I've had to watch lots of people die. As an EMT and as a nurse. It never gets any easier. If you're there, you're going to feel responsible for the persons death, even if you did absolutely everything possible to save their life. It doesnt matter if its gory or not, you're always going to have the image imprinted in your mind. The reality is that we cant win them all.

                              One of the most poignant memories I have is from about 8 months ago. I was working a shift in the ER and three kids came in, all with multiple fractures and contusions. All with severe hypothermia. Their parents had regularly beaten all three of them and locked them in a chest freezer. One of the kids, the 5 year old, was so bad off that nothing we did was helping. His BP was at a steady loss, his pulse slowing, his ox stat plummeting. The damage to his system was just too bad and we couldnt do anything. We all had to stand there and slowly watch him die. A 5 year old kid who had done absolutely nothing wrong, and I had to witness the light leaving his eyes.

                              You have to carry these things with you if for no other reason than the fact that there might be a next time where you can do something to save someone, and the memory will motivate you.

                              I wont tell you that it gets easier, because it doesnt. It will simply become a part of you, and what part, good or bad, is entirely up to you.

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