There were four of us working that night when the tones dropped for a police assist. They were asking for scene lighting for something. It was about 0230, and I was the junior guy on a very cold wintry night, so seniority played a role in me being sent out alone with the utility rig while the other guys stayed warm inside and went back to sleep.
As I rolled up, there were about six police cars arrayed along the edge of one of the city parks with a gaggle of cops not too far off the road in the soccer field, standing next to a pile of clothing that looked like it had been collected elsewhere and dropped for further review. I tried to figure out where the clothes might have come from so I could figure out where they might want me to park the truck, but it was a mystery.
So I walked on over towards and then around the pile of clothes to get some directions. They seemed a little annoyed at my proximity to the pile and the body language was clear as they moved away that I should as well. Just put the lights right there on that, they said, as if it was obvious. And walk back to the road that-a-way, one of them added, pointing to a longer return route.
It was not until I fired up the generator and was raising the scene lights that I was able to get a better glimpse of the now lighted scene. There were tire tracks all over the field and a lot of damage, looked like someone was doing donuts, typical midwestern hooliganism. I was still perplexed, though, at what warranted such an extensive middle-of-the-night investigation. Then the ME's van showed up..... the heck?
I just stayed in the truck and watched as the ME and cops conferred, and then as they walked over to the pile of....... holy cripes!
It's a frickin' BODY. It had been run over several times. There was not enough blood to draw my attention, apparently because the person was dead before being run over several times.
One of my career's most epic situational awareness fails, I was traipsing and blundering through a murder scene, atypical of the stereotype that cops have for firefighters in crime scenes. Lived it out right there. At least I could try to blame it on being the new guy without experience. I am amazed to this day that the ten or so cops there showed such amazing restraint when I would have expected to get a new one torn open by them, and rightfully so.
Pay attention you guys, things are often not at all as they seem, even when you think you've looked everything over. Chances are you've still missed something. Try to not let that something be a murder victim's body.
As dawn was breaking, I was released to return to quarters, and broke the utility truck on the way when it snapped the serpentine belt, and I had to fight the power steering pump the rest of the way back. When it rains, it pours.