Unsung Deaths During The Rainbow Gathering 2007
Posted by jeremiasx on July 9, 2007
I had to wait a day or two to talk about this. I’m so freaking mad I could just spit.
Two days ago I saw a man die down at the Buffalo River at the Hasty access and it took nearly 30 minutes for the Park Rangers to even get there. I’ve never talked much about what I do for a living but I think it has a little bearing on the current situation. I make my living on the river…it’s only a part-time job, and it doesn’t pay a lot, but I really enjoy it because I get to help people have a great time (normally) when they float the mighty Buffalo. I work for a canoe service and run people out and bring them in and carry canoes (our Olde Towns weigh about 80 pounds dry…they’re kinda heavy.)
I got to Hasty access in my usual fashion to begin picking up groups as they came in…I went to park in my usual spot down by the trail to the beach but there was a young man who was terribly upset and he asked me to please move because an ambulance was supposed to be en route to assist his brother, who he said was dying on the beach.
I parked it, and ran down to the beach to see what I might be able to do to help. I have had military combat lifesaver training in the past and have been CPR certified several times since I was a teenager. Upon arriving, I noticed a small crowd of folks gathered around a local man who had just drowned. They were his family, and they were very distraught (understandably) and were attempting to resuscitate him using mouth-to-mouth and CPR…but I didn’t think the guy doing compressions was going to last much longer so I offered to jump on and help until the EMT/first responders arrived…which I assumed would be much quicker than it actually was.
Between our small group of family and bystanders, we all kept looking up at the parking lot, just sure that any MINUTE there would be some official help in the form of a Newton County Sheriff’s deputy or maybe even a Park Ranger…I mean…those guys are usually around when someone is drunk or disorderly or if they think they can get a couple tickets written for “walking on poison ivy” (ludicrous stuff in general) and they should have been Johnny on the Spot…RIGHT?
WRONG. It was 20 minutes from the time this man stopped breathing and his heart stopped beating before a first responder got there. (I find this pretty much ok because first responders do their best based on their availability and proximity to a location.) It was 25 minutes before an ambulance arrived. (It had to come from by my house which was about ten miles away up the mountain…again…understandable) The Park Service got there 30 minutes after. Newton County Sheriff’s Department? A NO SHOW. What gives?
I’ll tell you…in case you haven’t figured it out already. The Newton County Sherriff’s office and the Park Service were TOO DAMNED BUSY HANDING OUT TICKETS AT THE RAINBOW GATHERING to be available to help SAVE THIS MAN’S LIFE on the other side of the county.
We were unable to ever get a pulse or breathing started, though I heard that they did in the ambulance en route to the hospital for a short time…he did, in fact, die.
I can’t help but wonder whether he might have LIVED if the Park Service and S.O. didn’t have their brains completely overwhelmed by the prospect of busting hippies and running them out of the county at the end of the Rainbow festival.
This makes the SECOND death during the Rainbow festival in which the Park Service and the Newton County S.O. have been shown to be DERELICT IN THEIR DUTIES TO SERVE AND PROTECT THE PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTY.
Sheriff Keith Slape…we, the voters of Newton County, will not forget that you chose to spend our tax money on useless, draconian law enforcement ventures and chose to have our county employees participate in unconstitutional dragnets. Park Service: the people of this county will not soon forget how you misplaced your priorities and allowed a campground host (at the Ozark campground, the week before the festival when you were busy doing training maneuvers with the national rainbow response team) to DIE AND REMAIN UNDISCOVERED FOR A WEEK because you were focused on the Rainbows.
This is BULLSHIT. Bottom line.
I’m done for now…but more to follow.
Footnote: After reading a highly derogatory comment which blasted my lack of support for the officials who DID respond…let me say that it actually goes without saying. I appreciate the service of each individual who is serving the county. I DON’T appreciate STUPID POLICIES. Don’t get so caught up in the fact that rural response times are generally long anyhow…the point is that the focus should not have been all on the Rainbow festival across the county. The feds brought in 500 extra personnel to handle the event. Our county should have stayed out of it other than enforcing laws as usual in the area instead of trying to milk our tax dollars due to this “phantom menace” of veggie-stealing pot-smoking hippies running around ‘nekkid’. That’s the point. Blaming the Rainbows is a bad argument too. They aren’t responsible for the ludicrous response of the authorities.