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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Paw Paw Yehaw! 'til Po Po Show
State Police End Wild Wheelchair Ride

Speaking of The Carpenters... You may have heard this story about a young man named Ben Carpenter on your local news or the late-night monologues, but since it happened just south of us here, I thought I’d throw up a quick post about it. [Did I just say “throw up” a quick post?—I’m sorry. There’s got to be a better way to say that.]

Imagine. There you are in beautiful Paw Paw, Michigan, (Apple Cider Capital of the Midwest). You're strapped into your motorized wheel chair and you venture up to the corner store to buy a pop. You rest the tall, lidded container between your thighs and motor out the door toward the crosswalk. There is a big semi waiting for the light to turn green, and you're still crossing as it does.

Unfortunately, the high hood of the truck blocks you from the semi driver's view as he pulls ahead in low gear. As if in slow motion, you're being run over as others watch helplessly.
Fortunately, the initial impact turns your wheel chair the direction the truck is moving—otherwise, you’d be tipped over and crushed.
Unfortunately, you're now being pushed down the road, and the trucker still doesn’t know you’re his new hood ornament. (To make matters slightly worse, your pop has spilled in your lap.)
Fortunately, the hand grips of your wheelchair become lodged so securely in the truck’s front grill that your wheels are rolling freely.
Unfortunately, the speed limit is 55 MPH and you're literally burning rubber as your wheels are shredded down to the rims.
Fortunately, several drivers coming the other way call 911 stammering,
"You aren't going to believe this, (but) there is a semi pushing a guy in a wheelchair on Red Arrow Highway."

Unfortunately, the State Police think it’s a prank call until they keep getting the same report, the last one from a woman in tears.
Fortunately, a nearby state trooper catches up to the truck and cautiously motions the driver to pull into a parking lot.
Unfortunately, by then you've been flying as if on the "cow catcher" of a locomotive for over four miles! Six hair-raising minutes flew in your face between the first and last 911 call.
Fortunately, as the dumbfounded driver is escorted to the front of his truck to see you hitched there with a spilled pop in your lap, you still have a sense of humor and say, "That was quite a ride!"

Thank Heavens he was alright! If that had been me, I’d be thankful for two things: first, that I was alive… and second, that I had a spilled container of pop to help explain why my pants were wet! Because with or without that pop they would have been!

I know this is not funny, but if you think back to many humorous scenes in film and TV--from Little Rascals to Seinfeld--there is a fine line between comedy and tragedy.

[UPDATE: The 21-year-old was unharmed. This event happened Wednesday, June 6, 2007 around 4:00PM EST. Details were sketchy at the original post time, but I've updated as it comes out. He was later on the evening news. He has MD and was very lucid. He thought he was going to die. His mother joked, "He's always liked big trucks, but he didn't have to get this close." There was no mention of citations or litigation.
Listen to the 911 CALLS HERE. See father's video INTERVIEW HERE.]

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Blogger Dr.John said...

Wow! That sounds hard to believe. I sure would thank God.

7/6/07 7:40 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

He was on the evening news tonight and in good spirits. So far the attention is local (not counting the internet, where the story is on many headline sites), but I wouldn't be surprised if he gets some attention on Letterman or Leno. If they had video of it, this story would be all over the news. Since we know the outcome was good, the story has taken a humorous twist locally.

7/6/07 9:26 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Yikes! This headline did get my attention online - didn't realize it was so close to you. On Oprah last week they had a show that talked about how more and more people are accidentally running over their own children while backing out of driveways, etc. due to the fact the SUV's, etc. are getting bigger and bigger. They showed an example of a woman in a pickup truck. She checked her rearview mirrors and her blind spots and you saw nothing. Then when the camera panned out, you see that there actually were 62 kids huddled together in the space behind her truck! A semi and a grown man takes that to the whole next level!
Julie in Colorado

7/6/07 9:50 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

I can think of nothing more tragic than a parent having such an accident. This story was almost a tragedy that would have ended a life and probably a truck driver's career. So far this has been treated as a "hook" story by all the local networks (to lure viewers to stay tuned), but I really do hope it doesn't turn into a law suit. They're not talking to the truck driver. I suspect his company's lawyers have him under wraps.

7/6/07 11:33 PM  
Blogger Tracie said...

The good Lord was certainly watching out for him! It's definitely not funny but I can see where it took a humorous twist after everyone knew he was alright. I couldn't help but giggle as you went from the Fortunately's to Unfortunately's. And then when his mom joked about liking big trucks but not needing to get that close I all out laughed! I cannot imagine going through something this traumatic but thank you Tom, as always, for posting this as only you can!

8/6/07 9:20 AM  
Blogger J_G said...

I saw the boy and his parents on Fox News this morning. What a ride! I wasn't paying too much attention to the story at first and then I saw the picture that went with the words being spoken in the interview and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I believe he has guardian angel too.

8/6/07 1:01 PM  
Blogger the walking man said...

I wonder if he had insurance on his chair, this is Michigan and even though he was traveling the legal speed limit they probably would ticket him for no insurance.

By the by the wheels and tires on his chair have been repaired so he can make it on a planned trip to camp this week end.

Lawsuit, the trucking company will probably sue the kid for opening up the grill.



8/6/07 1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never know what I'll find here at POI. I confess I was laughing as I read this because I knew he was okay, but like you said it's like something out of a Peter Sellers movie. You didn't say that, but it's like a funny movie once you know nobody dies.

8/6/07 3:20 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

The format was sort of a "good news/bad news" approach. Life is like that. I haven't seen Ben Carpenter on a talk show yet, but it seems like the kind of interview that Letterman would do and find a way for the laughs to end with a "Thank God you're alive, Man!"

I missed that interview. The more they talk the more "first person details" come in to play. My account was based on lots of 2nd hand quotes, etc. Hope it was accurate. Hey, by the way, there’s a great local Golf event here tomorrow raising money for “The Fallen Hero Fund.”

I think this young man and his parents could make a HUGE statement against litigation by not pressing the matter. I'm sure the truck driver feels awful and will have plenty of natural consequences from the ordeal. Then I think the trucking company should buy this young man the coolest, most equipped motorized wheelchair on the market complete with some sort of telescoping 6-foot emergency flag that goes up in crowds or situations like this.

If there is an "awareness issue" to be learned from this ordeal is that unescorted wheelchairs cannot be seen in crowds or over truck hoods. I think I'll get a pattent on the telescoping flag idea. =)

8/6/07 6:22 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

I missed you up there. Don't feel bad about laughing. Many people are. It's that comedy/tragedy thing. I half remember a scene in a Peter Sellers movie (or maybe it was an old "Get Smart" episode =) where there's a character is strapped to an ambulance gurney and they stand him on end to take him through a revolving door. When the door spins to the opening, the gurney falls face down on the pavement. Ouch! but funny... you bet.

8/6/07 9:35 PM  
Blogger SusieQ said...

(Gasp!) What a story.

All those "fortunately's" and "unfortunately's" makes it sound like a wrestling match was going on between the young man's guardian angel and the devil.

Now that was a miraculous outcome.

8/6/07 11:05 PM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

I just heard the collection of 911 calls a little while ago and added them. Hearing the different reactions of caring, concerned people is very interesting, but the one from the sobbing lady reminds me that those seeing it unfold there was nothing funny about this in "real time." Even the young man's parents have found an "incredulous" sort of humor in it. Once things turn out for the best we tend to find humor in “close calls.”

We had a zip line in our woods years ago (this was after the rope swing). My young female cousin and I climbed up to the 35 foot platform and grabbed the handles of the pulley to ride it down together. It was about a 200 foot ride. At the count of three we jumped off the platform. She panicked and simply let go of the handles. I caught her in a “scissors lock” in my legs and held her till she dragged on the ground 150 feet away. Had she dropped when she let go, she would have broken her legs or worse. When we hit the ground at about 25 MPH, I drug her 10 yards in the dirt and dust. Everyone was horrified for about 15 seconds. We were both fine... and everyone burst out laughing.

8/6/07 11:22 PM  
Blogger Tracie said...

I just watched the interview and listened to the 911 calls you posted. That poor lady sobbing! Oh my gosh I hope they took her to get checked out too or at least gave her a paper bag to breathe into. I really laughed out loud at the story after I knew he was ok but after hearing her I was crying for her...she will be traumatized for life after that. She was hysterical!

And your story of the zip line. THAT was crazy! You had to be thinking quick to catch her like that!

9/6/07 7:03 AM  
Blogger Jody said...

Yes. That was quite a story around here. I can't imagine being any of the individuals involved...from the kid to the driver to the folks seeing it all happen. Life is most definitely an adventure at times. Even if you're just out for a quick soad pop!
As for the Fallen Heroes Golf Tournament...it went really well. The weather looked as though it would be a threat, but turned out beautifully. About $35,000+ dollars was raised on Friday. What a great event...with more publicity and donations yet to come. There is a line here between tragedy and opportunity for good. I see that so often in life, as you know. That term 'good grief' means so much more to me every day.

11/6/07 8:16 AM  
Blogger patterns of ink said...

Yes, that lady's call reminded me that this may be "funnier" told than observed. I'll bet 911 gets a lot of callers like that. Your use of the word "hysterical" is interesting. She was but not in the funny sense. See? There's that fine line again. =)
I think I'll write a post about the zip line. I'll have to draw a picture of it since I recall no photographs of it. (I'll have to ask my brother if he has any.)

Whoa! I've never thought of the term "Good Grief" in the sense that you just said it, and you are so qualified to use it in that way. Thanks. As a Minnesota girl, you know that Charles Schultz made those two words famous through his character Charlie Brown. Thanks for the update on the "Fallen Heroes" fund raiser. I'll try to get the word to J_G.

If you've never been to Nitty Gritty, check it out and you'll see what Jody is talking about when she says "Good Grief."

11/6/07 2:48 PM  

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