Coffee Grounds :
Valley Police Department, May 1988 or 1989
* * WARNING * * Contains descriptions of graphic violence.

One of my co-workers asked me what had been the most horrific incident I had been involved in as a police officer.

In 2012, long after my career in public safety had ended, one of my co-workers asked me what had been the most horrific incident I recalled from my time as a police officer. There were many over all; motor vehicle accidents, shootings, suicides, natural deaths that were discovered long after time of death, assaults, you name it. As a sixteen year first responder you will run the full spectrum of the worst that society has to dish out, and although all such incidents were horrible in their own way and thus leaving an impact on me the one thing I could recall as the one of the most horrific was Coffee Grounds. Coffee Grounds sounds pretty simple at face value, but once I fill in a few details, I’m sure you'll understand why I felt this way.

The first time I came across coffee grounds was while being involved in the quelling a fight disturbance where one of the combatants was hit hard upside his head while I was situated near him at the time of impact. The coffee grounds I discovered latter did not come to me with full realization at that time.

A few years later, about May of 1988 or 89, I was first officer on the scene (as I was many times,) to a very bad personal injury collision. It was Prom Night… This particularly nasty incident was a one car crash containing five drunken kids all 17 to 18 years of age. As investigation would later determine, the vehicle had been traveling in excess of 90 MPH, (probably faster,) when it left the paved county highway at a 90 degree left turn in the road. The driver didn’t “loose it” on the curve, he never even knew the curve was there as his car left no skid marks. The car flew over a small pond, and impacted against a railroad embankment on the other side.

All five of the occupants (four found at the scene, as the right-front passenger was taken away by a passing motorist before I arrived.) were seriously injured. The three back seat passengers were all conscious, and in obvious pain. The unconscious driver was almost unrecognizable as a human, but at the time still alive. With the use of jaws, the three kids from the back were extricated, allowing us to concentrate on the driver. I was instructed by the attending paramedic to hold the O2 mask over what was left of the kid’s mouth and nasal area, and on command, hit the flush button in an attempt to fill his lungs with air. When this was done, the left side of the patient’s neck blew out, spraying myself and all of us on that side of the car with blood…

Two patients were airlifted out via two separate helicopters. Three ground ambulances from two fire departments transported the remaining patients. (To my amazement, all but the driver survived.) The accident scene was turned over to the Sheriff for investigation. After the aircraft had left, the ambulances were on their way to Omaha, I numbly slumped into a chair at the fire station. Ted, the Fire Chief handed me a clean towel so I could clean off the Coffee Grounds.

When blood spatter dries, it turns into dark brown colored, gritty granules that look like coffee grounds. I was covered from my head to my knees in Coffee Grounds! Oh My God!!

There were other incidents. Some may have affected me harder at the time, but looking back I recall how horrified I was at the realization of the significance of coffee grounds.


Red line indicates path of southbound vehicle traveling at a high rate
of speed, leaving the paved portion of the roadway, across the gravel
drive, over a small pond, and impacting against the side of the
railroad right or way, marked by X. Graphic not to scale.

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