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James D.F. Samdavid1

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So Many Were Taken
By James D.F. Samdavid1
Thursday, April 25, 2002

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So Many Were Taken

When I left law enforcement, I went to work full time at the Volvo Dealership that I had worked for part time for so many years prior. My title was service manager. I had worked all phases of the service and parts department for the last thirteen years. I knew most of the workers that were employed for the dealer when I made the switch from part time to full time.

One of my best friends, Skip Roeker, ( not real name) had started at the dealer just a few weeks before I became the new manager. Skip had worked at one of the police departments on the Northshore and I had worked with him a couple of times in a joint operation. He had left the police department in order to seek a better paying and safer job. His wife was not happy about him being a police officer and his working long and dangerous hours. So he went back to his second love, being an automobile technician.

When I came on board as the manager, Skip and I hit it off perfectly together. We had a public address system that was wired through the telephone lines. When I wanted Skip to come to the service office for assisting a customer, or getting his next job, I would speak through the P.A. by using police codes. Example; ď14, 10-19, 10-6.Ē Meaning, ď Skip come to the service desk for a job.Ē That would just blow the minds of some of the other technicians and some of the customers. They had no idea what the heck we were talking about. It was just a fun way to get the job done every day.

Skip happened to have a pilotís license and had offered to take me up for a hop one day. I arrived home a few days later after work and told my wife that Skip was flying out from Wheeling and would be landing at Lake In The Hills Airport within the next few minutes. I asked her to give me a ride to the airport. She wasnít too thrilled about the idea. After all we had not discussed the idea of me flying and she was afraid that I could get hurt or worse. But being the wonderful and sweet person that she was, she broke down and gave me a lift.

When we got to the airport, Skip had already landed and was waiting for me in front of one of the hangers off of the runway. We took off a few minutes later after getting our clearance from the tower. Wow. What a flight. Skip had flown a small piper cub, two passenger light plane to give me my very first flight. It was very scary and extremely noisy. The engine made so much noise it was hard to hear Skip as he was giving me information about the controls and such. The vibrations coming from the engine and felt throughout the cockpit was unbelievable. But I will say it was interesting and fun after you got somewhat used to it.

We flew over the dealership in Glenview and made a few low passes and waved our wings so the salesmen would know who we were.

We made very good time flying the eighteen miles or so to Wheeling. Once we landed Skip gave me a run down on the engine and other specs. I was finally able to hear what he was saying once the engine had been shut down. We got into his car and made the trip back to Lake In The Hills, where my wife had planned a wonderful dinner for both of us. Skip had been a guest a few times before and had even brought a couple of his daughters over to visit with our two.

The next winter we had a bad snowstorm and I could not make the trip from my job to my residence. Skip lived a few miles north of the dealership and offered me a meal and a warm bed. Mary Beth, Skipís wife had actually made the offer. Their five small children made room for one more that night. When I called my wife to tell her about the plan, she was glad to hear that I would be safe and that I was in such good company. We sat around and shot the bull until the wee hours of the morning. For those that think a boss should not associate with his workers do not know the real meaning of friendship. Skip always did a good job and without any hesitation.

After about two years of working for the Volvo dealer, I decided to make a change. I was offered and I accepted a job working for a Mercedes-Benz Dealership just a few miles north of Glenview. It was a better paying job and the opportunity was there as well.

It must have been a year after I left the Volvo store when Skip had made plans to take his family up to Wisconsin for a labor-day weekend mini vacation. He was very safety conscious and waited until ten-thirty at night before taking off on the trip. He wanted the traffic to die down a little, making it safer for his family. His late model Volvo station wagon was packed with camping supplies, ample food and drink for his now six children. They had been blessed with another son and Mary Beth was holding him in her arms as she sat in the right front seat of the station wagon.

Amy, his second oldest daughter, was back behind the rear seats among the baggage and camping gear. She was sitting there as the car was packed to the gills. There was no other room left inside the car to sit. She had moaned and groaned a little but it really wasnít all that bad, just a little tight with all of the gear resting against her small body.

Skip was driving up Route 83 just a few miles from his home and as always the family was happily singing along together as he drove. They were so excited about the trip and getting out and away from the city to have fun at the campgrounds.

Before he could possibly react, a drunk driver blew through a stop sign and struck Skipís driverís door at an estimated speed of seventy-five miles an hour. The impact was so severe that Skipís body was cut in half. All of the family, except for his eight- year old daughter Amy, was killed instantly. Amy did recover from the accident after spending a month in a local hospital. She had received fractures to her legs and collarbones due to the impact. Had she not been surrounded with the camping gear and being in the rear of the wagon, she too would have lost her life.

I was unable to attend the funeral for Skip and his family. I would have been a total basket case had I seen any one of his family members lying in a casket. I miss Skip and his family and think of them often. I wonder if the Lord allows pipe smoking in heaven? I guess not, but itís hard to think of Skip and not see the old pipe hanging out of his mouth.

What happened to the drunk driver that took Skip and his familyís lives? He wasnít hurt in the accident and was taken away in a police car. When his trail came up a year later he was found guilty of vehicular homicide and served eighteen months in prison.

Amy? She was taken in by Skipís brother and was eventually adopted by the family. She is doing as well as could be expected. After all she had a very traumatic experience and has a lot to deal with for the rest of her life.

© James Samdavid1 Fullington
February 16, 2002

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Reviewed by Alberto Azcona 8/26/2002
A true story, terribly tragic, in the manly words of a writer on the level of the masters of the genre.
Reviewed by Theresa Koch 5/11/2002
Reviewed by Melissa Rives 4/26/2002
This is heart-wrenching to say the least. Sounds like you had a wonderful friendship. Blessings to you cuz.

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