HELICOPTERS ARE BEST USED AS A RICH MAN'S COMMUTER SERVICE OR FOR TOURISM...LIKE THE GRAND CANYON.
I have been power walking for over ten years. I get out a few times each week in different directions for about fifty minutes. During this period, I recall three times that helicopters were over head...unfortunately, none of them turned out well.
Aside from the exercise, my main goal on these jaunts is to gather my thoughts for blogs etc.,while avoiding pot-holes and other roadside obstacles that lie in wait. I think this aversion to injury prevents me from seeing a lot of the local natural beauty. For the uninitiated, my neighborhood, (Galloway), plucked out of idyllic suburbia, is chock-full-of wildlife. Most of the live wildlife I see are birds. I may not be a birder (bird-watcher) but when I'm not striding around pot-holes, I do appreciate seeing hawks zooming through the forest canopy, circling ospreys or majestic flocks of Canadian geese in formation. I once even saw a pair of turkey-buzzards ripping apart a deer carcass. Also, I get to see many other smaller birds who stray from a nearby sanctuary.
WITH THE ATLANTIC CITY SKYLINE IN THE BACKGROUND, THE EDWIN B. FORSYTHE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, THE HOME OF 332 BIRD SPECIES,
IS LOCATED 2 MILES FROM MY HOUSE IN OCEANVILLE.
About nine years ago as I walked down great Creek Road, an eastbound whirlybird cut across the noontime sky. I gave it no thought until about a half hour later, when it re-appeared and sped-off in the opposite direction. Days later I learned that a schoolmate of my son Andrew was air-lifted to the head trauma unit of Jefferson Children's Hospital in Philadelphia. The helmet-less boy survived a head-on quad-cycle collision with a tree. Although this kid leads a mostly normal life now, he lost his hearing in one ear and has poor short-term memory. It should be noted that the sixteen year-old quad driver lost a leg in that accident.
Three years ago, on Reeds Road as I set off for my walk on, I witnessed a "routine" traffic stop on Wrangleboro Road. Before the officer got out, a second police car arrived. The second officer stood poised off to the side, behind the perpetrator's vehicle, as the first policeman approached. Suddenly, the violator shifted into reverse, floored the accelerator and made a sweeping burnt-rubber 270 degree angle U-TURN back onto Wrangleboro. In addition to scaring the crap out of me, he sideswiped a passing car before jumping the curb ala "THE DUKES OF HAZARD." The cops hurried into their car's as the desperado disappeared into the Sunrise sub-division across the street.
I knew there was only one way out of that complex so I gave the chase scene no more thought. On my way home, a chopper was hovering over Sunrise before it started a circular search pattern. Despite the entire Galloway PD plus the helicopter in pursuit, he still got away, (temporarily).
The third incident occurred a week ago (August 31st) which was the first day at Absegami High. "Gami" is half a mile from my house and it's close enough for my "sophomoric" son Andrew to walk there. The school opened extra early this year because a new high school (Cedar Creek) is opening on the other side of the district in 2010. So the administrators want to end this year early so that they maximize their time next summer to iron-out any last minute kinks for Cedar Creek.
At 9:30 that morning, I was power-walking to Jimmie Leeds Road when I first noticed the copter. Four times, it criss-crossed the sky until I headed home. On my street, I crossed paths with my bike riding neighbor BOOB. I remember he was wearing his goofy, signature-statement blue do-rag. As documented in my column several times, BOOB and I have had our differences down through the years so I didn't ask him if he knew anything about the helicopter.
Shortly there after at 10:45, the phone rang. It was a recorded message from the Absegami principal. In it, parents were made aware that the school had been in "lock-down" due to an undisclosed problem outside the school. My son is no stranger to school evacuations...there have been several bomb-threats and weapon searches since entering middle school. So I guessed that some jerky student feeling robbed of the last week of summer trumped-up some situation to get out of school.
When Andrew returned that afternoon, he had no specifics. We were left to guess until the Tuesday morning PRESS OF ATLANTIC CITY came. Dan Good's article on the first page of the region section was entitled, "BICYCLIST WITH BOW AND ARROW DISRUPTS ABSEGAMI'S FIRST DAY." Here are some excerpts: A bicyclist with a bow and arrow rode onto the school's parking lot. Security asked him to leave and the bicyclist yelled, "You can't make me leave, I built this school." Later, a second security guard spotted this man on a bench near the JV baseball field and described him as, 50-60 years old, medium build, long beard, in a tan shirt and blue bandanna.
The guard called for back-up when the cyclist reused to leave. After the call, he fled into a wooded area along the Garden State Parkway on a silver mountain bike. Soon there after, the Galloway police, assisted by Egg Harbor Township police K-9 unit, Richard Stockton College police, the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office and New Jersey State Police helicopter were called in to search...unsuccessfully for him.
My wife read the article and said, "This nut sounds like BOOB." I said, "I think you're right. I saw him on his bike that morning but without a bow and arrow." Throughout the next day, we debated our civic duty. The main sticking point was, we had no idea of what kind or color his bike was. But we knew first-hand of his odd-ball tendencies and anger management issues. In Thursday's paper there was a follow-up article entitled, "BOW AND ARROW BICYCLIST TURNED HIMSELF IN AFTER READING STORY."
BOOB was in fact the culprit although his account of the story makes him out to be the victim. Nevertheless, he faces disorderly conduct charges but feels, "It's not fair to even hand me a trespassing ticket." IT'S INCOMPREHENSIBLE THAT ANYONE...EVEN A BOOB LIKE BOOB (AFTER ALL, HE'S A PARENT TOO) WOULD BE BOW AND ARROW TARGET PRACTICING AROUND A SCHOOL.
Additionally, I guess BOOB THE BOWMAN would also have to "foot the bill" for mobilizing so many law enforcement agencies while disrupting the school day and scaring many students, parents etc. I hope he pays dearly...but most of all I hope the little light bulb in his equally tiny brain finally lights up and helps him learn a valuable lesson in humanity.