Thursday, April 3, 2008

A wee note...

I guess that I am finding this harder than I thought. Well, not the actual putting into words, more the emotional aspect of it. Since I last posted, I have been meaning to sit down and continue, but I keep finding excuses not to.

Not only that, but I do have some concerns for the family of the pilot. So I wrote the family an email today. I do not want to cause them any more pain and suffering by bringing this blog into the public eye, then they are already dealing with. Therefore, until I hear from them I am temporarily putting this on hold.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Synchronicity, Death, & Dying.... part 2.. A Journey Interupted.

So.... There we were, driving home. Both of us in shock, and trying to absorb the enormity of what had just happened. I was trying to settle myself and regain a sense of equilibrium, and did not feel much like talking.

It is one thing to suddenly have a premonition of an impending accident like that, quite another to be involved in it, and then to simply have to pick up one's life again and move forward. A journey interrupted.

Hubby and I got home several hrs later than we normally would have, fortunately, we had pets that needed tending to and feeding, before we could do anything else. Hubby went to feed the goats and I tended to the cats and dog. That grounded me a wee bit and helped me to regain a little focus.

I guess that I was really still in some shock. At the time that the events were happening, I didn't really have a lot of time to think, or even to allow myself to feel my emotions. It was simply a case of gritting my teeth and doing what needed to be done.... deal with the rest afterwards. But, now that afterwards was here, I really didn't know how to decompress myself.

Hubby, was trying to deal with his own stress over the accident, and it was so hard, trying to be supportive for him and let him talk about what we experienced, saw, and heard....Especially, when I was trying to come to grips with my own experience. I was finding it extremely difficult and was searching for a way to help me make sense of it all.

The thought occurred to me, that maybe I should start a thread on a website that I had visited for about 8 years. I could post anonymously there, so I thought it would be a great way for me to express what had happened and sort of talk it out with strangers I would never meet....

So I started a thread, stating basically, but in no great detail, unlike in here, what had just occurred. Expecting that I would just write out what had happened, perhaps talk to a few people, and that would be the end of it.

The effects of the adrenaline rush, and the stresses of what I had seen and experienced were really starting to effect me. I was cold, despite showering and turning the heating in the house up high, shivering, and not far from tears.

I was somewhat distraught, and yet oddly numb and still a little disconnected from the emotions of the crash....A most unusual feeling!

It was a real contradiction of emotions, all vying for number one spot in my immediate consciousness. A maelstrom of contradictory feelings and thoughts reigned supreme, threatening to overwhelm me, and drag me off to parts unknown. It scared me a little bit, my reactions, and I felt vulnerable for the first time in many years, especially since the gentleman in question was the same age as I am. Aware of my own mortality and the fragility of the human body.

Meantime, within 30 minutes of the crash the news was all over the tv stations, and it was like hubby and I just had to watch the coverage! I could not understand the compulsion, but it was a compulsion....

Perhaps it was our mind's way of trying to come to grips with the reality of the situation....?
Perhaps it was to remind us that we had experienced that and come out physically unscathed, (although, not totally in my case)....?
Perhaps it was to validate that we actually had experienced it and it was not a nightmare from which we would awaken any minute....?
I do not know. All I do know is that for that night and the next couple of days, we just had to follow the news reports on the crash, and we did.

As I posted on the thread that I had started, I cried as I wrote what had happened, I cried as I read people's responses. I felt a measure of reality returning to my mind as I posted and responded to what people had written....

Posters were very generous with what they wrote. There were some who called me a hero....My friend included. I did not then, nor do I now in retrospect consider myself a hero. I was just there, saw what needed doing....then did what I could. I wish, I have wished so many times that there was more that I could have done.

I kept replaying the scene over and over in my head for days, and in fact, even as I write this I am reliving the event, although now it is with a small amount of closure beginning to take effect. Looking back at the thread now, with the hindsight of over a week, I can see how affected I was as I wrote, even though I was really trying to hold it all together.

Then all the what ifs started. What if I had done this? what if i had been a few seconds earlier? What did I miss that perhaps I could have done? Did I really do everything that I could have done? Did I leave anything undone? Until I was almost screaming inside my mind.

For a few days after the crash, every time I heard a small plane go over head I braced myself, thinking it was going to crash. I was really shocked at my reactions, and realized that I had a small amount of post traumatic stress syndrome.

I realized then also, that the incident had affected me far more than I was allowing myself to feel. It was almost as though I were standing outside of myself, looking in at me and dispassionately observing and recording my reactions. It was the weirdest feeling.

More tomorrow

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Synchronicity, Death, & Dying

A very good friend suggested that I write my current experience, so this blog is a very good place to start. I actually am very grateful to her for suggesting that I do this, as it is a way of working through the traumatic feelings and thoughts that are still playing on my mind.

This story starts on Thursday the 20th of March, at around 4pm. I had been visiting with the aforementioned friend, and we (hubby & I), were delayed in leaving her home. Hubby was a bit antsy about us getting on our way, but for a reason that will become clear shortly, I felt that we were meant to be a little later leaving and suggested that he not stress about it, that it was for a reason.

(I guess, that I ought to say at this point, that I am a Sensitive -clairvoyant, medium-, I have known that I have had this ability since early childhood... I am now in my early 50's. Sometimes I am just hit with immediate information, and this is what happened that afternoon).

Finally we were on our way home. We had only gone about about a block from my friend's home, I was in the front passenger seat. I noticed out of the periphery of my vision, on the right, a small plane. Immediately I was hit with the urgent impression that it was going to crash. I turned and looked at it fully and realized that it was only about 100ft above the housetops.

I said told my hubby to turn around the car around right now!
RIGHT NOW! That plane is going to crash! and we need to get back so we can help. For a few seconds he was thinking that I was playing with him, but then he saw the plane going over our head. Even then, he did not realize, however, he trusted my intuition enough to spin the car right around and head back in the direction from which we had just come.

We both watched the plane bank to the left as we turned the car and started back, and then to our horror, the left wing dipped and the plane went down. Right in the center of this housing development. We both heard it crash into the ground, a sound that will forever live with me. Within only a few seconds we were at the spot where the plane went down.

Hubby had not even stopped the car, when I was out of it and off running towards the plane. I kicked my shoes off, because I could not run fast enough with them on. Normally, I have a slight difficulty in even walking, due to some problems with my Achilles tendons in both legs, but, the adrenaline was pouring through my body and second were precious to whomever was in the plane. I do not remember the run to the plane after I lost my shoes.

I was at the plane within about a minute after it crashed. I arrived at the crash site a few seconds after two neighborhood men, and the lady who owned the house the plane crashed at. The pilot missed the house by about maybe 100ft and landed in trees at the back of her section, narrowly missing houses on the other side of the trees.

The owner of the property, a very tiny lady, was in total shock as one can imagine, as were the two men. They were all standing about 20 ft away from what was left of the plane.. they all were going "oh my God!, oh my God!", over and over. I stood there for a couple of seconds trying to catch my breath, as I never run anywhere, and at the same time I was assessing the situation.

I guess there is another thing that I ought to add here.... I am a nurse, or at least was, in my home country of New Zealand. I nursed for 30 years, with the last couple of years in a Cardiothoracic and Vascular surgical ward. So, I guess that gave me more of a head start in dealing with traumatic / life and death situations, than the average person off the street.

I noticed that the plane had landed directly nose down onto the ground. There were no sparks, no fire, which was really a blessing as the left wing on the plane was all but bent in half and petrol was pouring from the plane, down the wing, and also out of the fracture where the wing had bent either on impact, or hitting the trees as it came down. In retrospect, it was actually a very dangerous situation, but at the time I did not think to much about it. The picture above, does not totally show how the plane was, because of the angle that it was photographed from.

I remember, in those few seconds, biting down hard on the inside of my cheeks, and thinking to myself that it was really going to hurt me later, but not feeling it at the time. In those few seconds when I was assessing the danger of the situation, time seemed to slow right down, so a few seconds was long enough. Despite the fuel pouring from the plane wing, I had this calmness come over me, and I
knew, without question, that the fuel would not go up in flames whilst I was with whomever was in the plane.

I told the gentlemen who were there that I was a nurse and immediately went forward to assess the situation of whomever was in the plane. I went over to the cockpit, stepping over all the broken glass and debris that was scattered around. Actually, I did not even give the debris much thought, let alone, that I was barefoot amongst the ruins and standing in jet fuel. It never occurred to me at that point.

The very first thing that I did, was reach into the open cockpit and turn the plane ignition off. I took the key out and threw it to one of the men, who were still standing where I had left them. Until that moment, it was like they were all frozen on the spot. It is amazing how trauma affects a person's reactions, but you never know unless you are in a situation like that, exactly how you will react. It is not a judgment on the men, they were very brave, just in shock.

Then it was like they had all been given a push and the men started to come forward. I told them to stay back until I had, had a chance to assess the condition of the pilot.At the same time, I was aware that the pilot was still breathing, as I could hear him and see him at the same time as I was removing the key. Not only that, but I did not want them all to be close, in case the fuel did go up in flames.

I told the men he was breathing, and a very quick check of the pilot, told me that he was unconscious, and non-responsive to any stimuli, although he had some reflex movement of his fingers on the hand that the other men could see, leaving one of the men to tell the press that he was conscious initially.
He was not. It was only a reflex action. There was no response at all to my checks of his consciousness level.

The pilot was slumped forward with his head impacted on the control panel. I could not see the right side of his face, or anything really below his waist. He was trapped. He was breathing and had a very weak, thready pulse. However, It was immediately obvious to me that the gentleman had severe brain injuries, from which the likelihood of his survival were extremely negligible. Not that there was anything to visually obvious to a lay person, (from my angle anyway), however he was bleeding profusely. I could not stop the flow, because it was coming from inside his skull, and out through his ear and nose. There was nothing I could do, and I knew that as soon as I saw him. Nothing physically anyway. He was thankfully unconscious and therefore not in any pain.

The men saw that he was trapped and wanted to move him. I would not let them, because of the risk of further injury (even though, at that stage, i really do not feel it would have made a difference). He was in no immediate danger that would necessitate us moving him before the fire brigade and medics arrived. I checked to make sure that there was no one else in the plane with him. There was not.

One of the men, who actually turned out to be a plane mechanic (synchronicity # 1), cleared some of the debris, behind in the tail of the plane and climbed in. I asked him what he was doing, and he told me he was a plane mechanic. He got the fuel line, and bent it, so that the fuel stopped pumping out of the plane. Then he went back and stood with the other man, and some more neighborhood men that had arrived on the scene. Really there was nothing they could do.

I felt so badly that I could do absolutely nothing for this man, so I did what I could. Which was, I held his hand, and stroked his hair, his hands, and talked to him the whole time. I told him "hang in there darling, help is on it's way.. hang in there, help is coming.." Some of the men a few feet behind me now, were shouting encouraging words to him as well...

The feeling of helplessness was palpable amongst all of us at that site. One of the men came a little closer saw some of his injuries and started making comments about them, that everyone could hear. I told him to be quiet, that the man did not need to hear that. Even though he was unconscious, I am certain that he could still hear us.

After what seemed to be a long time, perhaps 10-15 minutes a local sheriff arrived at the scene. I almost felt sorry for the poor man. He was pale, and sweating profusely. Obviously thinking oh shit, what am I going to do.
He came over to me and asked how the man was, so I told him. He told me to leave and clear the area from the plane, because of the fuel. I refused to leave until the firemen or medics were there. I was not going to leave the pilot alone. He did not argue with me on that point. In any case, he would have physically had to remove me, I was not leaving him, period! I told him to tell the others to move faster, cause I could tell that he was slipping away from us. He moved the men back further from the plane and seemed a little flustered, which given the circumstances was totally understandable.

While we were waiting for help to come, within about 10-15 minutes of the crash I became aware of the press helicopters over head. Bloody scavengers!. I was furious at them. Anything for a story, for ratings.

About 5 minutes later the fire dept arrived. They took one look at the scene and pulled me and everyone else away from the plane, because of the petrol danger. The medics arrived a few minutes later. As we were being taken away from the plane and the pilot, I was able to tell them how he had been up until that point, and that i felt he was slipping away. The medics took one look and at this stage he developed breathing difficulties, and the firemen started to try and free him as quickly as they could.

We were taken down to the rear of the woman's home and told to wait there, while the fire dept had to call in some special unit, because of all the plane fuel.

The area was all taped off and I was left standing there, with the two men, watching all the action from a safe distance. It was at that point, that I became aware of a young man in his late twenties, or early thirties, standing to my right. Looking extremely pale and concerned. Initially, I thought he was like the rest of us, in shock. I asked him if he was a neighbor, and he told me that he was the pilot's son.

It turns out that the gentleman was to have landed on a private strip at his son's? house. In fact, they had all been watching him come in, and his family saw the whole thing as it unfolded! How terribly horrible for them. My heart just went out to him, and I gave him a little hug. Fortunately, his wife was there with him, so he was not on his own, while he was waiting and watching the activity in the trees. I felt so badly for him. It was less than 15 minutes later when they came down and told the Man and his wife that his Dad had passed over. How terribly sad.

The sheriff took a statement from me and asked me if i would mind waiting around, as one of the detectives would want to also take a statement. The neighborhood was a total hive of activity. Firemen, Medics, Local Police, County Police, and even State Troopers were there. Amazing.

I saw one of the men that was there, being interviewed by a member of the press, who was promptly told to go behind the tape, so she continued her interview with him there. Next thing I know, I am the only one left at the back of the house, of the group that was up in the trees at the crash site.

I looked down and noticed that I had blood all over my hands, and realized that I was in bare feet. Also, that I was really cold, as it was a cold day, and i was only wearing some cotton knit yoga pants and a thin t-shirt. I found somewhere to wash my hands and asked one of the firemen if there was some alcohol solution that I could put on my hands.. he suggested that I go around the front of the house and ask the crew that was there. So I walked around the front and was shocked at the sight. I had completely forgotten that this was the middle of a really busy neighborhood, and it seemed that the whole community was out the front of the house looking to see what they could see.

I got some lotion from one of the crew and a very kind woman handed me a nice cold bottle of water. Until that point, I did not realize how thirsty, or tired I actually was. I walked back to the rear of the property and sat down on some patio furniture, waiting for the detective to come see me. All the others had disappeared off into the neighborhood, or were busy being interviewed by the tv crews. I sat there shivering, getting colder by the minute, and the shock was starting to settle in with me, and a cold wind had sprung up. A nice hot cup of tea would have gone down a treat, or even a cup of hot sweet chocolate.

A very nice gentleman, saw me sitting there by myself in the midst of all the activity, and came over and started talking to me. He was the chief of the fire dept for the county that the special fire unit had to be called in from. He saw I was cold, and kindly gave me his jacket to wear. A very, very nice man, and extremely thoughtful. He gave me his card and told me that if there was anything I ever needed, all I needed to do was phone him. How kind was that?

Some time later, a detective came over and I gave him my statement. We talked for perhaps 20 minutes, and while we were talking, this very cute young fireman came over to me, holding my shoes. I was very glad to see them, by then my feet were cold, and I had basically resigned myself to walking barefoot back to my friend's home. Then I was free to leave. Before the detective finished taking my statement, I told him that he was free to pass my contact information onto the family of the pilot, should at any stage they feel like asking any questions. That perhaps that may help give them some comfort and a small amount of peace, especially to know that he was not alone, conscious, or in pain in his last minutes. I felt that was really an important thing for the family

I was glad to get away, the effects of the adrenaline rush were starting to wear off. I went back around the front of the house, where there was still quite a crowd and hubby walks over to me. We walked over to where he had parked the car, and by this time, I was finding it somewhat painful to walk. I realized that the running had aggravated my legs, Until then, I had not given them a thought.

Hubby took me back to my friend's house, as the road was still blocked off and traffic was unable to get through. My friend was sort of in shock herself, after all, this had only happened, basically one street away from her home. We talked for a little bit and then I told the hubby that I wanted to go home. It was after 6pm and I was very tired and longed to have a shower and warm up. So we left, as we arrived back at the site, I saw a number of people, including the plane mechanic, being interviewed by the tv crews, people were milling around in shock. I simply asked one of the firemen, who recognised me from the crash, if we could go through as I needed to shower. They just let us through and we went home. Both of us in shock. We didn't really talk that much on the way home, we were both lost in our own thoughts.

Some links to news reports of the crash, few of them get the information correct:

I need a break and a coffee, so second part later....

Sorry that the links are broken like that, they would not fit in the blog otherwise.