Tales of the 7th Battalion 18

Spare Parts

I used to hate to go to auto accidents. Many were heartbreaking and tragic. Doing 100 miles an hour on city streets is a formula for carnage. Prying broken bodies out of a totally demolished vehicle is a terrible task. Firefighters from our squad companies were experts at using the Jaws of Life to dismantle crashed cars and trucks. I know that Squad 4 used to compete in competitions with other departments as they honed their skills.

At accidents people would sometimes come out in one piece and sometimes they would be tore up. On occasion we would have to look for body parts. One night Engine 33 responded to a gory scene. A group of bikers rolled out of a Go Go bar on Fort Street and decided to race to their next stop. Witnesses said they were traveling at a high rate of speed when the accident occurred. They were hurtling down the center of the road, three across, when they came to the viaduct. One went left, one went right, and the motorcycle in the middle hit the concrete pillar going at least 80 miles per hour. The bike looked like it had been run through a metal compactor. The victim was a bloody mess. His head was gone. The captain of the engine ordered everyone to start looking for the head. Firefighters scoured the area for 15 minutes before one of the guys re-examined the body. “I found the head,” he called out. The biker’s head had been driven straight down into his stomach from the horrendous head first collision with the viaduct support column.

Another incident involving a Fort Street Go Go joint was sad but had a comical twist. It was an early the morning run. The bars were letting out and the drunks were on the road. An out of town trucker was slowly cruising past a sleazy topless bar on Fort Street near Junction. The dancers were coming out the front door. They were rowdy and wearing scanty clothes. The truck driver fastened his eyes on the girls as he cruised by the bar. He did not notice another truck driver had double parked his semi a short distance past the front of the Go Go place. There was a tremendous crash as the two trucks came together. When we arrived we could see the driver pinned in the crushed cab of his semi. He was conscious but locked into a tightly packed mass of pulverized metal. It took a while to free him On examination, we found he was Ok. His only injury was a severed right thumb. We looked high and low for that missing digit. We had no luck. The victim was transported to receiving hospital. He was really teed off that we could not find his thumb. He should have been happy to be alive after such a terrible crash. About a week later some kids showed up at the engine house with a plastic bag. In it was the truck driver’s thumb. It was in bad shape. The kids said they found it on the roof of a building a block away from the crash site. Apparently the physical energy of the crash had catapulted the thumb the two or three hundred foot distance to the roof. The crash victim was fortunate to survive and we  knew he had learned the hard way to keep his eyes on the road and not on the girls.

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