Friday, September 12, 2008

Running on Empty

It was a quiet night. I already knew that gas prices were about to take a major spike. The word was they would rise 13 cents at midnight. This would happen simultaneously at every gas station in Toronto and across the province. How this was possible without price fixing is beyond me but that it another story.

People were already lined up when I got going for the night. The station on Dundas in Mississauga had cars right out onto the road. I clipped a young man who had filled his car and now was topping off a gas can. He told me he was a student who needed to watch every penny he spent. A few more clips and I’m on my way. On the cruise and listening to the scanners.

It was a fairly quiet night. A street robbery had sent a young man to hospital with stab wounds. I tried to shoot over to Sunnybrook to grab a shot of him arriving in the ambulance but they beat me there by a minute or two. City-tv was there so I say my hellos to Burt and head to the scene to shoot some yellow tape. The cops have sprinkled a liberal does of tape around a driveway on Bathurst south of Steeles, in the north end of the city. A young copper tells me that it’s nothing serious, so I head across the street to Mickey Dee’s for some grub. My damn bank card says I’ve reached my limit for the day. It scares the hell out of me as I haven’t bought a thing today and I know how many people get ripped off by skimmers and identity thieves. I try to sign on to the bank site on my Blackberry. I screw up the password on that little keyboard and lock myself out of my own account. I’ll deal with that in the morning.

I had just dropped off my tapes from the gas station and exited the station parking lot when the call comes across. A wrong way driver on the 403 near Cawthra in Mississauga has hit head on with an oncoming car. As I head down to the Gardiner Expressway I hear the first units arrive. “It’s confirmed dispatcher, we have two code fives on scene. Shut down the highway as soon as we can.” Code five is OPP and Ambulance talk for deceased. A quiet night just got busy, but no need to hurry as I already know by the time I get on scene it will be locked down. I’ll be parking at the on ramp and waiting for permission to enter the scene. That’s how it works. You either get there quickly or you are often at the mercy of others for access. Just as well on this one. I hear later that a City-TV cameraman arrived on scene in minutes, on his way in for the morning shift. He was asked to leave and refused. The cops are all pissed now. Things are sensitive when you have such a serious crash. Everyone is on edge and they don’t need cameras shooting dead bodies.

I sit at the Eglinton on ramp for over an hour. Dave Woodford arrives on scene. He looks after the media. He smoothes things over with the Sergeant, gives us all the mandatory speech about how we need to respect the wishes of on scene Sergeants and then says, He will take us down to the first cruiser on the scene, no closer than that. The victims are covered with a tarp. They will have to be moved with the vehicle and cut out at another location. The car is demolished and also caught fire. It’s a bad one.

I get it done and a day shift camera arrives to take my place. It’s now almost nine so I’m on overtime. I drive the wrong way on the closed lanes of the 403 to exit the scene. TGIF.

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