No Hero

I’ve been watching the fascinating clips by Dr. Sanjay Gupta this past week on his “Cheating Death” series that he’s using to promote his book, “Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that Are Saving Lives Against All Odds.”

The clip from last night showed how a woman trapped in cold water without air for over two hours was brought back to life (she is currently a radiologist in a hospital in Norway, so brain function must be pretty good). Her core body temp was 56 degree F when she was rescued, so that makes her the coldest person on record to survive. You can find that article :::here::: on CNN.

It made me think for just a moment, wow, people who’ve lost loved ones in cold drowning accidents must be having some serious “what if” moments right now.

Then it hit me. My niece, Candace was a cold water drowning (December ’06). In fact, it was so cold, I wondered if that was why the policeman who came upon the accident just minutes after she crashed didn’t go in to save her.

Here’s what happened to her.

Candace was driving home on a mostly empty road. A policeman on patrol who knew her passed her going the opposite direction. He went a mile further and did a u-turn to go back in Candace’s direction. Routine patrol. When he got to a bridge, he noticed her car was upside-down and underwater. He had just seen her about 5 minutes previously.

The back window was blown out and the officer could see part of a baby seat in the back. He assumed Candace got out of the car and took her baby with her. He did not go into the water to check and make sure. He called for backup and then called her grandparents to ask if she had walked home. All this time Candace was drowning right there in the car, she tried desperately to kick in the front windshield, her legs were found up on the dashboard and there was a spot where she had managed to crack the window with her feet.

Let me back up to the part just before the cop got there. A farmer who lived near the bridge heard the accident and went to see what all the noise was. At this time, he saw the car upside-down, but on the side of the ditch. It had not gone in the water yet. He went back home to call the police and get his tractor to pull the car out.

While he was gone, the car slid into the water.

So by the time the backup came and the place was swarming with police, not a single person thought to check the car. They were stunned when they pulled the car out and found her seat-belted in it. That was about an hour after the accident and there were no efforts to resuscitate her.

I’m not angry about this anymore, she’s gone and isn’t coming back. I’ve accepted this. Two chances for rescue were missed, farmers and cops are human, not superheroes. They have moments of stupidity just like the rest of us. (I understand the cop suffered greatly over this matter)

For some good news, over the summer, Candace’s brother and his wife had a baby girl and named her Candace.

You can read about my niece, Candace :::here:::


4 thoughts on “No Hero

  1. I am still shocked by this particular course of events. I may always be. My son might have been saved if our local police department had acted on my phone calls. No, they’re not superheroes. But, where is common sense? Where is a sense of urgency? I am still angry. I may always be angry. I don’t know yet. Candace and Owen had so much of life in front of them. Or not. Where do we put providence? Where do we hold it in our daily lives? How do we accept these young lives cut short when others may have prevented those eventualities?

    Here’s what I think: DIVE IN.

    That’s how I choose to live my life now. DIVE IN.

    I think of Candace often. Like I told you a couple of years ago…I imagine the two of them dancing in a field of flowers, and I not only can accept that, I can smile in the knowledge that this life is not everything. There’s so much more.


  2. “Here’s what I think: DIVE IN.”

    Amen, sister. Amen.
    I would have gone in that cold water. It’s not like the car was moving, it was stuck in a ditch, upside down. No risk of life to a would be rescuer.

    That’s horrible, Linda, that those police did not listen to you. And if I remember right, witnesses kept changing their stories. Such a horrible thing to go through after losing a child.

    I like that image, dancing through the flowers. Thanks so much for your comments and thoughtfulness regarding Candace.

  3. Wow.

    What a troubling, terrifying, and tragic story. I admire your telling of it — respectful, thoughtful, and reflective.

    I’m thankful, too, for baby Candace and for the strength of your family to pull everyone through.

  4. Holly, thanks for reading and commenting.
    When I first wrote about Candace, I couldn’t really write about the details as it was just too traumatic and a lot of the family did not know these things. Also, the cop who found Candace is Blane’s step brother and I didn’t want to go off on him and kick a hornet’s nest.

    What’s important is a life can be saved after someone has been under frigid water for hours without a heartbeat. This is new science and it could save someone’s life.

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