Saturday, March 11, 2017

Another Death On the Trail

February 23, 2017.

A friend of mine was leaving work.  Locks up, enables the alarm on and throws a leg over his bike and rolled west a bit to the trailhead and then made a sharp left.  Rode another 100 yards to make another sharp left onto Clive's Greenbelt Nature Trail.  Following Walnut Creek with a wooded area to his left and the creek to his right with nice homes on the other side of the water he headed eastward to his home in Des Moines proper.  Just a lovely commute home.  Grey skies but winter is ending soon.  Not much snow on the ground and the temperature is decent.  He is used to it.  We all are used to it wearing what we wore in October.

What he was not prepared to see was just ahead of him perhaps 200 yards after the last turn.  A dark figure on the ground laying next to the trail.  Lifeless body of a young man.  First thought was a murder occurred.  Blood was present.  A spike of fear ran through him as he looked around.  The trail is supposed to be safe.  The only things to fear are the deer and squirrels running out in front of you or an unseen ice patch.  And skunks.  What to do?

Riding back to his business he dialed 911 and reported the incident.  The police arrived quickly.  They assured him that this was most likely a suicide.  Victim was male, perhaps in his early 20s.  That was all that could be said at that time.  The area roped off with  police tape.  Investigators combing the area for clues.  Identification of the young man was next and the heartbreaking announcement to his family.  For my friend, a cold ride home while processing the evening's events.  Place the bike away and step inside the comfort of home and join a world completely oblivious to the hell 6 miles away.

I received a text that night.  "Found a dead body on the trail.  Pretty crappy way to end the day.  Clive PD thought it was a suicide."  I immediately called him.  One should never see a dead body unless the body is at a funeral or one is a medical professional.  Maybe not the latter as that implies failure.  But when one is merely traveling home one should not make such an encounter.

The next day I rode that very section of trail on my way home.  All I saw was a bit of the police tape tied to a tree on the creek side of the trail.  I could see the houses on the other side.  Pretty much this happened in plain view, sight, of peoples' homes.  I watched the news and internet.  Nothing.  Even today, March 11th, nada.

Yesterday I noticed something different.  A rose with a card had been placed on a tree where the young man took his own life. it was left there by his mother.  So I decided to open up the old wounds and ask my friend if there was any news on the death.  He said that the mother stopped in and thanked him for notifying the authorities.  Her son was 18 years old and suffered from depression.  The Des Moines Register was not notified since his friends read Face Book instead.

Wow.  Kinda like Robin Williams.  But only 18 years old.  An entire life ahead of him.  But that is depression.  Fogs the views and sometimes scuttling the ship seems to be the answer.  I hope he found his peace.

So he joins Zachary Micheal Paulsen and Adam Grant Pritchard, the former murdered and the latter a victim of a crash, as the third person to die on this otherwise peaceful trail along Walnut Creek.  May he be the last.

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