West’s World: A new appreciation for law enforcement
I almost took a young man’s life on Monday when I was involved in a wreck on La Highway 376, also known as the Miller’s Lake Road.
It was the most terrifying experience of my life, but it was through that incident that I gained a new appreciation for our law enforcement officers (LEOs).
The wreck occurred around 11:00 PM, when I was on my way home from having dinner with some friends after work. While driving in the pitch dark, during a driving rainstorm, although it had no lights or emergency flashers on, I somehow noticed a car up ahead parked in the grass, because this road has no shoulders, on the side of the west bound lane of the road. The car appeared to have broken down because there was another vehicle I could see parked on the side of the east bound lane facing me with their headlights on. As I proceeded to cross both vehicles, the door of the car that had broken down opened into my lane.
I can’t really explain, or even understand, how this all happened, but what I can remember so vividly is seeing that young man and the door of his vehicle in my face. I am so grateful that my reflexes were what they needed to be because I know that I swerved just in time to ensure that this situation didn’t end with a more devastating outcome.
Just to put into perspective how close I came to having to live with the fact that I had taken another human beings life, I’ll say this, the guy’s car door can’t be closed anymore and either my car or a piece of material that flew off of my car injured the young man’s foot. As I began to come to a stop, I started panicking and freaking out. Instantly tears were rolling down my face. I just knew I had killed him. That feeling is one that I still haven’t been able to fully shake.
After checking on the owner of the other car, I then called my good friend Dirk Deville, who came to meet me and help calm me down. He kindly stayed on the phone talking to me until he arrived and then waited with me until the cops were letting us all go home nearly two an half hours later. I am so thankful that he did that, because I am almost certain I would have ended up having a panic attack out there had it not been for Dirk.
Then Evangeline Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Justin Albarado made it to the scene of the accident. Cops have always made me a little nervous because I have come into contact with some who have been a little rude and have made me feel beneath them. Therefore, his arrival made me feel even more terrified over the entire situation.
However, Deputy Albarado was far from that kind of cop. He was kind and concerned about making sure I understood that what had just occurred was an accident and that everything was going to be okay. He, in a way, comforted me. I can remember just continuing to say, with tears rolling down my face, “But, I almost killed him. I really almost killed him.”
Finally Louisiana State Trooper C.S. Simmons arrived on scene, and it was time for me to relive what I so badly wanted to forget had ever happened. Of course, it was impossible for me to share the events that took place without breaking down again. Just like Deputy Albarado though, Trooper Simmons was patient with me and also reassured me that it would all be okay. There is no way to really describe how badly I needed to hear those words and how much it meant to me that I was treated with such compassion. Both officers made me feel as though we all knew each other, and when you are in a situation like I was that night there is nothing more comforting than that.
As I reflect on the support Trooper Simmons and Deputy Albarado gave me in that moment, I realize that being a law enforcement officer is not just about traffic stops, ticket writing, investigations and arrests. I see now that LEOs sometimes have to be counselors who bring a little sunshine to what might feel like the darkest moment. I so greatly appreciate how these two LEOs treated me that night and I hope they remain working in law enforcement for a very long time. They are an example of exactly the kind of LEOs we need.