I spent my Sunday evening watching a crime scene unfold in my front yard. Mom spotted our neighbor in the hedgerow between the houses, ducked inside and dialed the police. Three cop cars rolled down the street, followed by an ambulance and a fire truck. The medics came out, kits ready. Then they turned around. Traded their kit for a pink sheet and draped it over the body.
The next two hours were simultaneous the most interesting and heartbreaking thing I’ve witnessed. I texted Andi updates as things were happening:
Unfortunately, the neighbor had been dead for several hours. The ambulance and fire truck left, and we waited for the coroner. Of course, the writer in me felt horrible for taking notes, but the procedure portion of investigation and body remove fascinated me.
- Call to the police, subsequent arrival on scene.
- Paramedics arrive to check victim. (It was obvious from her appearance that it was too late)
- Paramedics cover the body; exit scene.
- Officer takes statement from witness (my mother), inspects the scene for evidence of foul play.
- Police tape ropes off the driveway, only removed for official vehicles and the home’s residents.
- Coroner arrives, consults with officers. He has a clipboard and several papers.
- Coroner examines the body to determine (inasmuch as possible) cause of death.
- Coroner informs the GBI that there is no evidence of foul play.
- All parties wait for the GBI to okay physical removal of the body.
- Officer attempts to contact next of kin.
- Coroner transfers body into vehicle, destined for autopsy to confirm cause of death.
Sadly, I was not permitted outside, so all of this is observation. I am not a medical professional/officer of any law/dealer of the dead. I stood at my living room window and wondered what they police thought of the girl standing at the living room window.
I can tell you there’s a lot of paperwork involved in dying. Legal documents, statements. I wish I’d been allowed to leave the house to ask questions during the hour and a half wait for approval. Mom probably wouldn’t have appreciated it. So I merely observed. She was pretty devastated. Finding a body certainly can’t be an easy thing.
Nor is dealing with the million lookey-loos circling the neighborhood trying to get a peek. Or the fat ass who rolled up on her Rascal Scooter pretending like she lived here (she didn’t.)
According to my mother, the neighbor suffered a heart attack while working on her garden. It killed her instantly. Horrible as it was, finding her was likely one of the best situations. She lived alone. If she’d died inside, who knows how long it might have been before someone noticed? I know she was doing something she loved when it struck her. I didn’t know her well; I’ve maybe said a handful of words to her over the years, but I know she’s at rest now.
I’m going back to writing fictionalized crime…