· Episode 6 ·
In Episode 5, Irene and Martin Schrock were informed by a deputy sheriff that two of their children had been involved in an accident while they were operating the Schrock family’s horse-and-wagon. Deputy Jennings and Sgt. Hunter had already been assigned to work the hit-and-run accident.
Irene and Martin Schrock saw the emergency flashing lights ahead and glanced at one another. Deputy Razer slowed her patrol car.
Irene spotted the ambulance first.
Martin observed his horse, dead, dismembered, lying on the road. The wagon, damaged, was on its side with one wheel visibly splintered into pieces.
“Where are our children?” Irene asked Deputy Razer.
“They’re probably in the ambulance, waiting for us. Hold on a second,” she said, as she parked her car off the road.
Deputy Jennings approached Razer’s car and leaned over to speak to her through the open window.
“Thanks for helping us out,” said Jennings to Razer.
“No problem,” said Razer.
“We’re the Schrock’s,” said Martin. “How are our children?”
“Thanks for coming. Your children will be glad to see you. The paramedics and EMTs have checked them out and would like to talk to you.”
Jennings had already gone through a series of emotions. Like all deputies, his twelve-hour work shift was a series of emotional responses to 911 calls. One moment he was relaxed, and a second later his body was jolted into emergency response mode. He enjoyed variety in his day, and the adrenaline rush was a welcome high, but it didn’t help his blood pressure.
The trip from the Yoder’s house to the injury accident site had taken less than five minutes, but during that time, Jennings, as always, had prepared for the worst and hoped for the best. When he and Hunter were informed that they would arrive prior to the ambulance, it forced him to consider his limited life-saving skills. What would he need to do first if people were severely injured?
No one could miss the dead horse on the road or the overturned wagon. The scene was an awful sight with blood and innards smeared across the highway. It was as though the horse had been gutted by some powerful machine in a slaughterhouse. Jennings felt sorry for the horse but he was still hopeful that the person who had reported the accident to 911 had been accurate about it involving only minor injuries to the passengers.
It took Jennings a few additional seconds to determine if the car parked on the shoulder of the road had been involved in the wreck. When he didn’t observe any damage to it, he was pretty sure it belonged to a Good Samaritan. While taking in the scene, his eyes searched for people, injured or dead.
He found two Amish teenagers sitting on the ground, on the other side of the parked car, speaking with a woman. The female adolescent, in a dark-green dress and bonnet, had a small cut to her forehead. The male, wearing a blue shirt and pants with suspenders, was holding his flattened straw hat.
Jennings was relieved to discover that no people were killed or seriously hurt. The youngsters had been “lucky” because they were alive, but they were unlucky to have been hit by a truck.
The emotional shift in Jennings was sudden. He was upbeat. Reuben and Rebecca Schrock, both seventeen, had some scrapes and bruises, and they appeared stunned, but they were able to talk. They said they were sorry for the wreck that killed their horse and damaged their wagon.
Jennings and Hunter weren’t paramedics or EMTs, but in short time their questions shifted from the well-being of the children, to the investigation of the wreck. A person had been involved in an accident with major damage and had left the scene. The driver had broken the law and needed to be caught before he hurt others, and to pay a penalty for his actions.
“Do you want a case on this?” Jennings asked Hunter, his face expressionless.
“Of course I want a case on this!” Hunter said. “It’s a hit-and-run with major damage and injuries.”
“Okay, Sarge, just checking. I’m going to need to get personal information from the Amish teenagers. Is that 10-4?”
“Jennings, knock it off! It’s a state requirement and you know it. We gotta do what we gotta do, Amish or not.”
Jennings asked the teenagers what happened to cause the wreck.
“This truck came straight at us and hit our horse,” answered Reuben. “There was no time for me to avoid it,” he added.
“So, you were driving the wagon?” Jennings asked for verification.
“Yes, Rebecca and me, we were coming home from working at a neighbor’s farm.”
“Which way were you going and which way was the truck going?” Jennings inquired.
Reuben explained while Rebecca listened.
“Can you tell me what the truck looked like?” asked Jennings.
“It was a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. It was painted silver,” he said, as his face instinctively lit up with excitement.”
“Did you see a license plate?”
“No, I didn’t think to look for a number. We were hit with the front of his truck and it kept going in that direction,” said Reuben, as he pointed towards the east.
“How about the driver? Was it a man or woman?”
“It was a man, English. He was the only person I saw in the truck.”
“What race or color was he?”
“He was white, short hair, no beard, and no hat.”
“How about his age?
“I don’t know, in his twenties, probably.”
“He looks like a man who works at a flower store in Prairie Grove,” offered Rebecca. “He wasn’t the man from the store but he looks like him,” she added. “Yes, I think he was at least twenty-one.”
“I’m amazed that you’re able to describe the driver,” said Jennings, speaking to both Reuben and Rebecca. “If a truck was driving straight towards me, I would have been so scared, I’m not sure that I’d be able to identify anyone, only the ditch.”
“The man drove by once before he hit us,” said Rebecca.
Her response was immediate. She shut her mouth and looked at the ground.
Jennings studied both of them. “Have you seen the man before?” he asked. “Do you know him? Did he say anything to you?” For a second, Jennings wondered if the wreck could have been intentional, even a hate crime.
“That’s the best we can do on a description of the man and the truck,” said Reuben. “My back’s starting to hurt now.”
“I hear the ambulance,” said Jennings. “Your lucky day. The medics will check you out.”
“Can you go tell our parents to come get us?” asked Rebecca.
“Yes, we’ll have someone do that. Let me confirm your address,” he said.
Hunter took photos of the accident scene and collected evidence from the road. The wagon was torn up. Silver paint was embedded on the wooden wheel where it had been transferred from the hit-and-run truck. The sergeant also examined pieces of broken plastic from a headlight panel and shards from the truck’s front window.
Blood was everywhere.
Flies swarmed the horse and its scattered remains.
To be continued.
Until next time, happy writing and reading!