Watch “The Daunting” video at the end of this post.
Once my mind caught up with what I had heard, I quickly got in my county Blazer and with one look back at Sandee who had a puzzled look on her face, I shifted into gear and did a U-turn back on the highway as I turned on my lights and siren and headed back to Grand Lake – Nickey was in trouble.
As I reached down to grab the police radio microphone, it sprang out of my hand and landed on the passenger floorboard. In trying to retrieve it, I veered to the right and almost drove off into the ditch on the west side of the road. After regaining control of the Blazer, I thought to myself, “Calm down Dane, you are only a few miles away. Won’t do anyone any good crashing into the ditch before you get there!”
Taking a calmer grab for the elusive microphone, I was able to pull the black coiled cord until I had it in my right hand and before I could transmit, Sheriff Tom Walker came across the radio, “All available units proceed to Grand Lake – address 1220 3rd street. Officer down – ambulance in route. Use extreme caution; we do not know any particulars yet! Dane Lee, what is your twenty?”
My heart was beating furiously in my chest as I pushed the transmit button, “Sheriff I am just ten minutes out! Nickey Lynn, if you can hear me, I am on my way!”
Working my way through town, I turned off my lights and siren and once I turned south on Jericho Road, several cars and trucks passed me heading north over the arched bridge and canal that connected the waters of Grand Lake and Shadow Mountain Lake. Turning east onto Main Street, I could see Grand Lake at the end of the road and Bald Mountain hovering over the water in the distance in the east. After stopping, I pulled my 357 3-screw Ruger Blackhawk and added one shell that I always kept in the chamber empty under the hammer for safety. Not knowing what was ahead of me, I slowly drove down the gravel road on Main Street east until I came to the curve that turned south and became 3rd Street just on the edge of the water of Grand Lake.
Once on 3rd Street I could see both Gene’s and Nickey Lynn’s county Blazers parked nicely on the west side of the road. Nickey’s Blazer was in front of Gene’s and had the passenger door open.
Whatever happened occurred after they got out of their vehicles since there was no panic or alarm when they simply had parked.
Stopping a half block away, I turned off the ignition and slowly and cautiously stepped out onto the gravel of 3rd Street with my 357 Ruger drawn and ready and made my way forward until I could finally see the small cabin that was at 1220 3rd Street. The cabin was typical for Grand Lake and made of lodgepole pine that grew abundantly on the surrounding mountains. What was not typical was that Gene Sanford’s body, drenched in blood – a lot of blood – was lying on the small front porch. From this distance Officer Sanford’s body seemed stiff and lifeless, but where was Nickey?
Noticing the front door of the cabin was wide open as if someone had just left for a minute to check their mail, I moved forward. Knowing Nickey had made a transmission on her police radio, I moved from the driver’s side of Gene’s Blazer across the back to the passenger side. Having done that, I saw Nickey was lying on her back on the ground next to her opened passenger door in a puddle of crimson.
Moving quickly to her side with my weapon at the ready, I saw no movement other than Nickey was struggling to breathe. Bending down, I could hear the sirens of the cavalry on its way. The face of the woman I loved was bleeding profusely from what looked like a crisp, clean knife cut. I knew she was close to death and in a bad way. As I moved closer to a position where I could hear her, Nickey’s eyes snapped open and with a faint voice and with blood forming in air bubbles on her lips she said, “Dane, that bastard Amos killed Gene by slicing his throat and then he turned on me before I had a chance to draw my gun! He gave us no warning or indication; he attacked before we even said anything like a cornered animal once we stepped up to the porch! Then he disappeared, and I heard a vehicle leaving. I did not get the make or model!”
With a tear in my eye, I bent down and grabbed Nickey’s hand as I looked in her eyes as they clouded over and said in a calmer voice than I was feeling, “Hang on Mi Vida, I got you now. Hang on Nickey; you have to fight!”
Reaching into her Blazer, I located her trauma kit that was standard equipment for all Grand County Sheriff’s department vehicles. As Nickey had gone silent, I took my knife and cut her sheriff issued uniform blouse and quickly opened it to survey the damage. What I saw made my heart drop and do a double flutter as there were three distinct puncture wounds, and her lifeblood was flowing out of her body. How she had survived this long before bleeding out was a miracle.
Knowing she only had a few minutes if that before she died, I had to try to stop her bleeding.
Remembering my training that dealt with bullet wounds, I saw no difference in these puncture wounds made by a knife, and I knew a sucking chest wound or wounds can lead to a collapsed lung.
Locating the blood stopper compression bandages, I applied them as I had been taught during police training, knowing full well that for now this was the only way to stop the sucking and bleeding by closing the open wound. I tried to be as quick as I could, but gentle as well knowing Nickey’s spine could also have been damaged in the knife attack or could be damaged more by any attempt by me to save her life.
Nickey had gone unresponsive after telling me that Amos was the attacker, and I feared the worse. If her heart, lungs, spine, or a large blood vessel were damaged, there’s not much I could do outside of getting immediate expert medical care. The paramedics would be here shortly, but expert medical care that Nickey would need was in Denver 2 ½ hours away. If anyone ever needed the Flight for Life helicopters from St. Anthony Hospital out of Denver, it was Nickey Lynn Chavez.
As the sirens were getting closer and having done all I could do to stop the bleeding, I stood up and reached into Nickey’s Blazer and keyed her police radio transmitter. “Be advised one officer is dead and another is critical – advise Saint Anthony in Denver we need their Flight for Life.”
Yvonne the dispatch immediately answered, “Calling Saint Anthony Denver now!”
Once I knew the helicopter was being dispatched, I keyed the transmitter once again, “Murder and assault suspect is named Samael Amos and should be considered armed and dangerous. Amos is a Rocky Mountain National Park employee and has left the scene in an unknown vehicle!”
Thinking about that, I probably passed him on the way here as he was fleeing. The only way out in a truck or car from 3rd Street was over the arched bridge and then through the town of Grand Lake back to Highway 34.
Kneeling down, I felt for a pulse in Nickey’s throat, and she was still very much alive. The compression bandages seemed to have stopped the bleeding for now, and I hoped and prayed for the woman I loved. Grabbing her hand, I stroked her palm with my thumb and spoke to her not knowing if she could hear me.
“Nickey my love, this is not your day to die! I need you more than ever. You are what completes me and everything I will ever do in my life I want to share it with you. I got a helicopter coming and they are going to fly you to Denver to fix you all up. You can’t die on me yet – I will not allow it!”
Nickey’s eyelids fluttered, and they opened barely, but they opened and she tilted her head to look at me and in the faintest voice whispered, “I am not going to die, Dane; you have not learned to make a decent cup of coffee yet. My job here and with you is not finished.”
As several Grand County Sheriff’s Blazers and an ambulance come to a sliding halt, Nickey Lynn tried to smile, but her face was not having it. My tears started to flow after hearing her speak, and the guilt hit me like a sledgehammer.
I had let her down and she could die from my poor judgment. If only I had sent her to the park instead to check on Craig Dale’s abandoned Land Cruiser and I had come here to interview Samael Amos. Choking back my regret, I told her my thoughts. “I am so sorry Mi Vida that I was not here to protect you!”
Nickey Lynn was still struggling to keep her eyelids open and her breathing was shallow as she fought to live, but her eyes found mine and the cloud lifted for a second as she faintly spoke to me, “Not your fault, Dane. You are here now and that’s what counts.” Grasping my hand tighter she spoke again, “If I die Dane, you have to avenge me! Promise me that!”
The woman I loved knew she was on the verge of death, and there was nothing I would not do to save her life. And if the Lord saw fit she should die, there was nothing I would not promise her. “You fight Nickey! You fight hard! As God is my witness, I will avenge you Nickey Lynn!”
Kurt James © 2018
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