Christmas AloneChristmas Alone
The ice was hard and cold and shone only faintly in the flickering lights from the trucks. The black water wound in it didn't seem to reflect anything. Even if a struggling dog hadn't managed to pull free from the already refreezing lake as they had pulled up; the set of footprints in the thin snow leading to, but not away from, the cracked edge of the ice would have told the story to the firefighters and the dive team.
It seems to take a very long time to put on a dry suit, especially if you are watching someone do it for the first time, especially if while you are watching them your son is in the embrace of that cold, black, lifeless water. He lies in it, hidden from sight but not from hopes and prayers, by the water's hard winter shell. A shell that on this dark Christmas Eve night was neither hard nor thick enough.
The rescue team proceeds with a meticulous thoroughness that is maddening. Equipment is checked and rechecked, but in some
Blackwater GhostsBlackwater Ghosts
Phil Maddox’s pager went off at about 11:00 pm and less than three minutes later he was on the road, dry-suit clad with scuba equipment in the truck, hurtling down the highway.
The page said, “Vehicle overturned in the creek.” Those words launched him from sleep to immediate action. With no traffic he made good time. He saw the incident scene; the road before the bridge was filled with the lights from a dozen emergency response vehicles. The air ambulance landed rotor blades cutting the night into hard-edged red, white, and black fragments.
Phil parked behind the State trooper’s cruiser. Getting out he slung the air tank over his shoulder. The trooper motioned him through the cones, saying, “Vehicle went over the guard rail. Flipped right into the creek. One victim, but it’s a recovery, not a rescue.”
Phil looked over the bridge into the five-foot deep creek. The victim could be seen, pinned beneath the jeep. Only part of his