I just read a friends blog, “Nobody Wants to be THAT Silent Bystander that Could Have, But Didn’t Prevent Tragedy”, that reminded me about an event in my life about a year and a half ago. So, I thought I would share.
On November 12, 2012, I was driving from my home to Milwaukee down I-43 to wrap Christmas gifts for children of incarcerated individuals with some friends. Ahead, I noticed a large item in the road and swerved to miss it – a giant firewood log. The car behind me had been traveling rather close and hit it instead, I saw the wood explode into many smaller pieces, but one large one hit the back of their car. The other driver did not seem to care or react to the event, but I thought I would make sure that there was no damage to their car or tire that would effect their drive to wherever they were going. I know I would hate to be the one that didn’t say anything and have them be injured. I slowed down a little and they passed me, the car had no damage which I was thankful for as I had no idea how I would get them pull over if there was! That is when I noticed something much worse.
From the passenger’s side of the trunk, long, black hair was waving in the wind. My breath hitched in my chest. What was I looking at? I quickly wrote down the license plate number, color, make and model of the vehicle. My brain was going much faster than my car on the highway trying to figure out what to do. Is this nothing? Is there really a person in the trunk of the car? I pulled forward to look at the people in the car. Did they look like kidnapping murderers? There was a man driving, a woman in the front passenger’s seat, and a child in the back seat. The child caught my attention as she was wearing a heavy parka type jacket with the hood up and tied down, staring forward and not moving around. This struck me as odd as I am usually freezing all the time and it was so warm in my car with the sun shining in, that I had to take my jacket off.
The next 40 miles or so as we traveled through Sheboygan County, I kept my eye on them, trying to figure out if I should call someone. The other car and I kept switching spots ahead and behind each other. I lost sight of them for a little bit and when I saw them again, I only saw one person in the front seat. Did he just kill and drop off the other person? My heart and mind went into overdrive again. I knew that I would not be able to forgive myself if I didn’t do something and bad things happened.
I grabbed my cell phone (which I normally do not have with me) and dialed 911. The following conversation looking back, was slightly amusing.
Sheboygan County Operator “911, what’s your emergency.”
Me “I am not sure if this is an emergency or not, but I am driving on I-43 and the car ahead of me has hair hanging out of the trunk.”
Operator “Human hair?”
Me “Well, I haven’t touched it, but it is long and black and looks like it could be human hair.”
Operator “Where are you?”
Me “I am on I-43 and I just passed mile marker xxx” (I can’t remember the number any more)
Operator “Okay, you are almost in Ozaukee County, so I will have to transfer you to them.”
I was then transferred to Ozaukee County 911 where I gave more details of the car and what I was seeing. I was asked to stay with them for as long as possible while the State Patrol could get to where I was. I kept an eye on the car ahead of me and in the rear view mirror for the patrol car to be coming up to me, lights on, driving really fast. Another car seeing the officer coming pulled into the spot between “hair car” and myself. I had already given the description of my car, so the patrol officer nodded to me and waved as he drove past, turned off his lights, and pulled on to the left shoulder of the road.
As I passed the officer, he drove out, and pulled alongside my car. I waved and motioned that the car in question was 2 cars ahead. He nodded and waved again before pulling ahead and turning on his lights. The interloper of a car wouldn’t get out of his way and he couldn’t get between them. Neither one is pulling over! Finally, as we get to a large, curved bridge, both cars pull over. He goes around the interloper, and stops behind the “hair car.”
Since I knew what was going on, I had moved into the left lane, but couldn’t look at the patrol car or the car in question. What if they figured out who I was and hunted me down?!?! As I drove further down the road, I noticed police cars from surrounding communities lining the highway for the next 5 miles.
Later that weekend, I found out that a girl was missing from a nearby community. Luckily, she was found, but my heart pounded a little bit harder when I though about who or what may have been in the trunk.
I didn’t hear anything from the authorities, but needed to know what happened. Was everyone alright? Was it just my overactive imagination? Monday, November 14th, I decided to call the Southeastern Wisconsin State Patrol office to ask about the situation. I clicked through the menu options to reach an officer and then explained why I was calling. Without waiting a beat, there wasn’t even time for him to pull something up on a computer, he stated, “Thank you so much for calling in your concern. Not many people take the time to get involved. Luckily, this time, it was a Halloween mask that was hanging out of the trunk. You can bet he won’t let that happen again!” We talked a little bit more about the situation and how the woman in the front seat (she had taken a nap and had put her seat down which is why I couldn’t see her any more) was awoken by an officer pulling them over and asking to look in their trunk.
I was so happy to learn that it was nothing. I was happy to learn that despite it being a crazy situation, it was taken seriously by the authorities. I was also happy to learn that they weren’t upset that I had wasted their time. Apparently, no one else had seen the hair or felt the need to call for help. What if that was a person hidden away, stuffed in a trunk? I am thankful it was just a mask this time. Please, take the time and get involved if you feel there is something not quite right about a situation. It may be nothing, but it could save someone’s life.