Letter: Heroes are listed alphabetically in Montara
In the arms of a Texas woman: It was Dec 3rd and I got the tree up and the lights plus all the top ornaments. Di could do the rest. There was still a couple of hours left and Fred and Jackie needed to run. It was too cool for shorts. As I got dressed Fred and Jackie figured out what was happening and started to whine. Tethered as always the three of us went up Farallone to the P.O.S.T where I unhooked them. We headed for the grammar school and then turned left to the bench and then right up to Old San Pedro Road.
There’s a path to the top of that mountain starting 30 yards below the 5 posts used to keep cars out of the park. The kids, Fred and Jackie, love that ascent ‘cause I have to push my bike up to the top to reach the eucalyptus trees and they have time to investigate every thing. We all had water at the top. The path down is steepest at the top but rocky and less slippery than the second leg. Even though I’ve done that path forty times I always stop for "a breath" before that decent and wait for the kids to catch up. I always check to see my feet are squarely on the pedals before releasing the brakes.
My next vision or sight was the sky, with no memory in between that and my feet on the pedals. I was in real pain and flat on my back. I couldn’t get up on my own. I was able to dig in my heels and push up where I could reach my bike and use it as a crutch to get up and using the brakes got down to a shallower trail. Oddly my bike was inline with me and on its right side. I knew my wife didn’t know the park and would never find me. I called Vic and he was there. As soon as he answered I said "Vic, I took a bad one and don’t think I can get home. Can you come and get me?" He said "maybe we need the paramedics and it might be better if you called". As the phone slid out of my hand I said "Vic, I just made my last call" and pitched forward on the trail.
I could see and feel Fred and Jackie licking my face. I’ve never seen them so scared, probably ‘cause I was shaking. I must have passed out ‘cause my next recollection is Kathy wrapping me in clothing. Vic, his daughter Kathleen and Di were also there with Chet Bardo, the ranger, asking me so many stupid questions. I awoke again to feeling my body being placed on a gurney and again when placed in the ambulance. By the way, Vic and Kathy met in the first grade in Houston and were buddies until his family changed school districts in the fifth grade. They remet at Rice University.
Some Came Running: In the next 35 days at Stanford, Kaiser and Pacifica Rehab center I have been seen naked by more people than in my entire life excluding my high school gym.
Vic came to visit me at Pacifica after my "bed pan" stage. My neck, scapula, sternum, ribs and pelvis were fractured and I had lost sixteen pounds and received four units of blood. During the first two weeks pain avoidance was my constant obsession. Besides my wife Di, I had visits from Vic and my riding buddy Jeff. During Vic’s visits I asked him to give me an account of what was done to save my life.
Vic’s Account : He realized the urgency, shut his office and hailed a neighbor to drive him home where he told his wife and daughter to "get on your running shoes. We have to find Al."
They drove to the top of Old San Pedro Road and each ran a trail. As he ran the trail he saw Fred and Jackie out of the corner of his eye. They were standing over me.
Whether it was protection or curiosity on their part, I’ll never really know.
Vic called Di and told her how to get there. Kathleen ran to the Ranger’s house and she met her life long friend Lauren who relayed that message to the Ranger on her bike. I awoke to see them all standing over me. Di took the kids and Kathleen rode my bike home which was unscratched. Vic later told me my cell phone lost signal 25 feet east of where he found me. That would be where I first fell. It was at the Pacifica Rehab center that I was able to reflect on their heroism rather than my own pain. I think I only saved a life once. I was nine at a public pool when I saw a kid vertically flaying and gasping for air. I couldn’t swim either; so I held on the pool edge and stretched out my body so he could grab my foot and pull himself in. Not a word was shared between us. At that age I didn’t give a damn about his life but I sure do about mine and if I thank them any more it would probably embarrass them but one can not set aside the human heart or the human touch.
I can only relate to the reader that heroes do exist in Montara and suffice it to say, that on that day, some came running.
(C) Al MacMorres