During the late 1960’s I occasionally spent time with a cousin who drove tow trucks part time.
Tow truck driving in the 60’s was a very competitive business fights often broke out as tow truck drivers tried to win the business of towing away the wreck of someones unfortunate accident.
Not all towing companies were aggressive, regardless to some people they were all tarred with the same brush.
One very wet cold rainy winters night we and one other crew had sat in the towing office for eight hours and had not had one phone call or a report of an accident in our area, it was late, we were cold and tired the sort of tired you get from inaction and listening to the usual police traffic on the radio and the non stop rain on the tin roof.
By 2am we decided to call it a night, leaving the second crew to sit out the rest of the night, we headed home in the relentless rain in one of the tow-trucks.
We had driven about 200 meters when we stopped at a set of traffic lights behind a small sedan and waited for the lights to turn green we were in no hurry the traffic at that time was light.
The lights eventually turned green, the small sedan in front of us moved off, we began to follow.
A dark utility traveling at high speed suddenly appeared from the left racing through the intersection and ignoring the red light.
We watched dumfounded as it collided with the front left hand side of the small sedan sending a shower of sparks and glass into the air, the impact spun the small car around 360 degrees, the front and engine was torn away by the impact and hung on only by the twisted metal that was once part of the right hand side mud guard, the car spun and danced though the intersection before it came to rest at the side of the intersection in a field of scattered debris, smoke and steam began rising from the broken vehicle.
The dark utility carried on through the intersection veering sideways, for a moment it seem to balance on two wheels swerving wildly before rolling onto its side and sliding off the road and onto a council garden, accompanied with an impressive shower of sparks and coming to a rocking halt amongst the neat row of plants about fifty meters past the collision.
Shocked by the unbelievable scene we had just witnessed we sat for a moment then reacted, on went the orange flashing light on top of the truck while I climbed out into the cold poring rain, the driver stayed with the tow-truck sending a radio message back to our base hoping the other crew were still there to take the call.
I ran over to the small sedan.
The entire front of the vehicle had been torn completely from the car and now sat at forty-five degree angle to the car, the front passenger could have simply undone her seat belts and simply stepped out through the hole left by the missing part of the vehicle, unfortunately when I checked the passenger the left side of her face and head had been severely damaged by the side of the car during the impact, I watched as the falling rain washed the blood from the exposed bone, from the lack of movement I thought it highly unlikely she had survived.
The other side of the car had been twisted and shortened extensively, I moved to the driver who was seated upright still holding the outer rim of the broken steering wheel appeared to be pushed against his chest pinning him against the seat.
My partner ran up took a quick look at the scene and informed me the radio call had been answered and the ambulance and police were on their way then turned to rush off toward the rising smoke and steam from the dark utility.
I turned my attention to the driver, is eyes and bloodied head were rolling uncontrollably I doubted he was even aware of my presence in his dazed state.
I noticed the steering wheel he was holding had broken completely away and the control column appeared to have impaled the drivers chest.
He turned his head and looked at me through half closed eyes, before I could say anything he suddenly shouted, “I don’t want any ballerinas”.
His head rolled about for a few moments then fell forward and never moved again.
I became aware that the surrounding traffic continued obeying the lights and moved slowly past the accident scene crunching broken glass under their tires as they passed faces gazing dumbly from the warm dry interiors into the heavy rain no one offering to stop or help.
I stood next to the small sedan neither feeling the rain or the cold and just watching the moving traffic for a few moments when a movement caught my eye as a tiny head appeared from inside the broken rear window of the sedan, the small face turned and looked up at me then the voice of a four year old said,”we had a big crash”.
I was shocked and stunned for a moment then asked if she was hurt?
“It was a big crash,” she said ignoring my question and raising both her arms toward me.
“I know” I said adding, “I saw it’.
I reached out and lifted her very carefully through the missing window checking her over for injuries or any sign of blood.
She appeared to be unhurt and in no pain.
“Does it hurt anywhere” I asked continuing my search my fingers dislodging shattered glass from her hair and clothing.
“No hurt” she replied shaking her head side to side then noticing the glass falling from her hair each time she moved.
“Oh look broken”, she said.
“I don’t want you to touch your hair its sharp glass and you might cut your finger” I said.
“Ok”, she replied.
Unable to find any sign of an injury I turned and carried her to the tow truck and out of the rain, the engine had been left running the heater was still on. I told her to sit in the warm for a while then closed the door.
In the distance I could see the first of the blue flashing lights approaching.
It didn’t take long for a police car to arrive; stopping next to our parked tow truck filling the scene with orange, red and blue flashing lights that reflected of everything wet and seem to fill the sky with reflective color from the heavy rain drops.
Behind I could see more flashing lights approaching and a faint siren I hoped was the ambulance.
I instantly recognized the Sargent from other accidents we had attended as he stepped from his vehicle, he approached and stopped, his partner stopped behind to listen.
“A bad night” the Sargent said as he got close.
“Yes bad” I said, I think the two in the small car are dead; the driver of the other car is over there I informed him pointing to where my partner was standing, the driver of the Ute was bent over either in pain or throwing up I guessed from his stance.
The Sargent turned, his partner simply nodded then walked off toward the small car.
More police arrived just ahead of the ambulance; followed by a police motorcycle.
A car dove slowly past, we could clearly hear the music from the radio , both side windows were down, from inside the dark interior one of the occupants called out, “Fucking tow tuck leaches, cant wait for ya blood money, ya bunch of greedy bastards”.
The Sargent turned to watch the car as it continued to move away, he turned and raised his eyes toward me,”Helpful citizens”, he said.
He signaled to the motorcycle and waved him over.
The bike pulled up close, the Sargent said something I couldn’t hear and pointed to the disappearing vehicle.
The bike cop nodded and moved off effortlessly, blue light flashing.
The medical team arrived I walked over as they climbed out and told them what I knew, one headed toward the car while the other opened the back of the ambulance.
The third group of police arrived, the Sargent gave them various jobs before turning to me.
“I don’t suppose you saw what happened”? He asked.
“Yes, we were stopped behind them at the lights, were just moving off when the Ute came through like a bat out of hell and hit them.”
“How fast do you think he was going” he asked.
“Well Above the speed limit” I replied, unable to put a number on it.
The Sargent’s partner returned,”Both dead” he reported.
“I suppose the driver of the Ute survived,” he asked his partner.
“Yes that’s him standing next to the Ute” he said.
“That’s unfortunate” the Sargent replied.
The medical officer returned from his inspection of the small vehicle confirming both occupants were dead.
“I found a little girl in the back seat”; I said to the medical officer, “I put her in the front seat of the tow truck, to get her out of the rain, she was covered in glass”I added.
We moved to the tow truck and opened the door.
The little face turned and smiled then said, “We had a big crash”
I stepped back to let the medical team take over.
“Fucking cunts, Tow truck driver’s yawl a bunch of blood sucking bastards,” another voice called from a passing car.
The Sargent talked into his plastic covered radio for a few moments I watched as the heavy rain ran off his hat.
He turned to me and said, “I notice no one has stopped to offer help,” he said.
“Probably afraid of getting wet” I replied.
“The traffic cop I sent down the road is going to have a busy time”, adding, “If this keeps up I will have to send a second car down there to help”.
My partner arrived and joined us.
The Sargent looked at us then said, “Where were you heading when this happened”?
“Home” my partner replied.
“Well there is no need for you to hang around, we have the situation under control”
“Do you want a statement?” my partner asked.
“I know where to find you, go home, get out of the rain” the Sargent replied.
We climbed into the truck and brushed traces of glass from the seat.
We were soaked to the skin, water had filled my shoes, I felt chilled, wet and uncomfortable as I sat down.
As we drove away the driver turned off the overhead orange flashing light, good idea I thought, best not advertise the fact we are scumbags.