PD often asks us to preserve their crime scenes before we can get in and do our work, but this situation seems unique indeed.
While the particulars have been decently obscured, there was no hesitation on my part when faced with this situation. We have a “reported” hanging and judging from the past medical experience of my callers it could actually be a car accident out on the lake. We’re loading up the boat and making our way out there.
Until we can assess and determine a clinical plan other agencies will have to work with us, not delay us, in completing our task. If we wait for PD dockside a viable patient could deteriorate making our interventions more complex and leading to a poor outcome.
So, on the boat we go.
10 minutes later, after listening to PD screaming for us to wait, we come around the bend in the lake to a cove where we see a small sailing boat with a person clearly hanging from the mast, motionless except for when the boat slowly rocks as our wake disrupts it.
His feet are about 6 feet off the deck and it’s been awhile since you were a Sea Scout but the rope tied around his neck does not appear to be there accidentally. A jacket is hanging on the same mast and his shoes are neatly arranged below him on the deck.
Your primary assessment as the boat approaches includes the notation that the patient’s neck is deformed and elongated in such a manner that suggests internal decapitation. The fingers are flexed into the palm and the arms appear rigid as the body slowly rocks on the boat. The entire body moves as one. Do to his dark skin color, no pooling of blood is noted, cyanosis and bruising are also difficult to distinguish. Judging from the marks measuring the mast the length from his mandible to his clavicle is almost 12 inches with the possibly 3/8″ rope hidden withing the skin behind the mandible, taught.
The dock manager feels now is a good time to tell you that the person who found him was in a kayak and first noted him an hour ago.
PD seem to have been able to find another boat and have radioed for you to not enter the crime scene if the person is deceased.
Well, is he?
You make the call, based on your local protocols and policies.