The following is an expanded version of Item 9 on my “Top 10 Unique Things I’ve Done? list:

There’s a proprietary element to death investigation. Legally, the body belongs to the medical examiner and the scene belongs to the law enforcement agency. I’ve noticed that no one in law enforcement ever has to be reminded of this arrangement when the body is particularly difficult to get to—like 50’ inside a sewer pipe. I can’t say that I blame them. Even though I wasn’t wearing a loaded utility belt and a bulletproof vest, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the crawl myself.

This particular sewer pipe served as a sleeping quarters for transients in the area. In truth, it wasn’t as much a main sewage pipe as it was a drain for sewage overflow from the main pipes. Fortunately, the pipe only had small pools of sewage that had collected down its center, but the smell was certainly authentic. Patrolmen at the scene indicated that they routinely rousted transients from the pipes. As a result, the transients had taken to crawling even further into the pipes. This particular transient was found dead by another that tried to wake him.

I keep a wide array of items in the trunk, and I was lucky on that day that a 100′ rope just happened to be one of them. My collection of items has grown considerably over the years. Every time I’ve wished I had a particular item at a scene, I’ve added it soon after. I tied one end of the rope to my left wrist and crawled inside. As I approached the body, I was relieved to see that the feet were towards me and as such were much easier (and appropriate) to tie off to than the neck would have been. The diameter of the pipe itself wasn’t large enough for me to feel comfortable trying to turn around. My only real option was to crawl backwards as the officers pulled on the rope.

Never having been in this particular situation before, I severely underestimated the speed at which two officers can “reel in? a body from a sewer pipe. It’s a shame that no one was able to see me or the look of concentration on my face. I’m sure it would’ve been an amusing sight to watch me scrambling backwards as fast as I could to avoid collapsing face-first onto a rapidly approaching dead body.


3 Responses to “”

  1. 1 MJ
    April 12, 2005 at 5:49 am

    Oh no! You’re going to have a winch put on your vehicle, now, aren’t you?!

  2. 2 Terri Poposky
    April 12, 2005 at 8:14 am

    You certainly do get your exercise with this job. No need to go to the gym! I have a vivid mental picture of you crawling backwards to avoid having the body pulled underneath you. It must have been quite a sight.

  3. April 15, 2005 at 12:11 am

    ..and i thought my little stage hand job was exciting..
    Well seeing Farrakan(sp) was pretty interesting.

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