Friday, July 01, 2005

Searching Past the Obvious

I am going into WAY too many safety rages lately. There are a zillion daffy ways people get injured or killed each year so tragedies are nothing new, whether they involve exotic household pets, enraged household appliances or challenges to nature that should never be issued. But whenever these deaths involve children it attracts both my attention and my unending ire. You've heard the story: three kids, ages 11, 6 and 5, are missing from a Camden, New Jersey neighborhood. It seems to be a working class neighborhood of people who care about their kids and are trying to make ends meet. So when three kids turn up missing, an alert is sounded. Friends, relatives and neighbors mobilize to scour the area. After four hours, the police are summoned. Bloodhounds set upon the scent. Helicopters and boats are pressed into service. The news media join the increasing frenzy. For almost 48 hours the search continues. Until the night of a prayer vigil when one of the boys' uncles goes to retrieve jumper cables. Along with the cables, the man finds: Three. Dead. Boys. They had been there the whole time! Helplessly trapped in a the trunk of an unused vehicle stored in the yard. Perhaps able to hear the searchers calling their names. Unable to attract anyone's attention. A pelting rain may have muffled the boys' cries for help. The 1992 Camry did not have the release feature contained in the trunks of newer model cars. So my Tasmanian Devil style rage flies in a number of directions. First. You've got a crappy old "unable to be driven" car. Why is a relative's house a better place to park this worthless piece of junk than, say, a junkyard? Brimstone soup for the relative who owned the car. Fiery thunderbolts for the parents who permitted it to be parked on their lawn. A lot of neighborhoods won't allow you to park a "not in service" car on your lawn. Or on your front lawn at all, in service or not. It's more than an eyesore. It's a SAFETY HAZARD. (As has been so vividly demonstrated.) Or as my hubby calls it, an "Urban Jungle Gym." If you're going to park a crappy old car on the lawn, you might as well stick your old refrigerator or freezer out there too, along with a big sign that says, "Play in Me!" For good measure you could leave a can of gasoline and some matches out on the lawn too. Next item: They had some high-tech help in this search. Helicopters. Boats. Dogs. And the neighbors said they checked every abandoned house, garbage can, crack and crevice for miles. You mean to tell me no one checked the trunk of a car PARKED ON THE PROPERTY? Supposedly the car itself was "searched." Who searches for kids in a car and doesn't check the one place where they could actually be hidden? Where did they look -- the glove compartment? The cupholders? Under the floormats? I understand a car isn't the first place you'd look if you thought your kids were missing in the neighborhood or possibly even kidnapped. But it ought to at least be in the top five. Or ten. Certainly before the sun goes down. Since the police were involved, I would think checking the trunks of the vehicles on the property would be a no-brainer. However the boys probably died before the police were summoned four hours later. One of the families allegedly is retaining a lawyer, but hopefully that is just a Grief Reaction and not a real intent. The police are not responsible for junky cars you park on your lawn and fail to check yourself. Out-of-service cars do not belong on private property. They should be towed and junked. Because this one wasn't, three families had to attend three funerals for three little boys. It's a crying shame.

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