A Diversion from my day to day life

Nothing worse than driving up to a closed road with no explanation. Nothing worse than driving past a scene at 4mph after a 2 hour wait to find 6 police officers doing nothing with two on their mobiles. Don’t they realise I have missed my appointment and now have to re arrange it. Don’t they realise I have missed my dinner I wanted with my family. Christ, what is this world coming to. Perhaps they could do with some more cuts if they can’t be bothered to do simple things like put diversion signs out for people, or get a shifty on so I could have done the things I wanted.

Well strap yourself in, we are going on a bumpy ride.

Serious Road Traffic Collision reported, and I’m on my way. I have done these before, hundreds to be fair, and I know that two of my units are also rushing to the scene. It’s about half an hour away on blues and twos but I know a local unit will be there before us. I listen to their update, it’s not good and they are trying to get some order of the scene but I can hear the quiver in their voice. This is a fatal. At least one dead.

I immediately organise with my control room for a family liaison officer to attend the scene. It gives them so much credibility with the deceased family if they have done so. The second thing I do is arrange Highways to arrive to set up a diversion. This is whilst driving at speed and ensuring I drive safely for the conditions as I don’t want to be the cause of another.

I arrive at the scene and my two other units are arriving with me. The local unit gives me a quick debrief. There are 3 cars at the scene, one on its side in the middle of the road, and another sitting parked with a huge dent in the front of it and the other unceremoniously abandoned in the hedge with devastating damage to it. I need to establish what has happened and quickly.

My units are looking for witnesses, the ambulance is on the scene treating a trapped person in the car on its side, and the fire fighters are stabilising it so it doesn’t topple over and trying to release the casualty as well. The occupant is screaming, it’s a good sign until I hear, “I can’t feel anything”. Her partner is out of the car and has his head in his hands saying, “There was nothing I could do”.

He looks scared, very scared. Other motorists caught up in the scene are saying the car on its wheels carried out an overtake where he shouldn’t and hit the other two. I send an officer to the driver to carry out a breath test. I will need to do it to all of them, and if too injured, a hospital procedure that will take several hours.

I discover an occupant in the other car in the hedge. She is obviously dead with a terrible head injury. Almost decapitated. I cannot tell how old. Her face looks like ‘the scream’ mask with brain matter clearly visible. I see a wedding ring on her finger. I gaze at the key ring with a photograph of a young child swinging from the ignition. A pause, a little reflection. This must be my 150th or so person I have seen like this. At least no children hurt this time. Suddenly the scream of the causalty in the other car spins me around. They are making progress, and the casualty is nearly out. The air ambulance has landed and making their way over the field with a stretcher.

It’s been chaos, but we’ve gained some order. Obtaining witnesses first having secured the driver so we know he won’t escape in case he’s been drinking or on drugs. When a further witness comes forward and confirms what we suspect about his driving, I make a decision and send my double crewed unit to arrest the driver for suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. They leave. I have one double crewed Armed Response Unit and a local officer. Hopefully, there won’t be a firearms incident right now because the local officer will suddenly have a lot on their plate.

The world continues away from this collision and resources are tight, but I manage to secure 2 PCSO’s to attend the road block to turn traffic back. I have already heard that a motorist has vented off at the local officer for their being no diversion, and the officer gave him short shrift. That will be a complaint later.

I have called for the Collisions Investigation officer, (CI) who mark the scene, Scan it, and produce highly detailed plans and can give you information about the scene like you wouldn’t believe. I need to stop unnecessary boots stamping on my scene, destroying any bulb that can be forensically tested to show whether it was lit or not, the CI can tell me a speed of the vehicles, they can tell me who did what where and when they collided, and whether any car lost control prior to or after the collision.

I call the Scenes of Crime for photos and further forensics, I call the vehicle examiner to the scene as there was a suggestion the brakes could have failed. The procedure to secure and collect the physical evidence takes several hours to plot all 3 cars, the debris, and the road itself. A lot, but if it were your sister, mother or father, would you like us to sweep their body up in the back of the van and have no evidence to prosecute any potential offender, or to never know what happened. It’s only an accident after all. Or indeed to show the driver was in fact innocent with defective brakes. Were the brakes cut or eroded? Is it murder, was it indeed an attempt at suicide? We have to find out these things so the Coroner can decide what caused this, and so a criminal court can bring to justice any offender and so importantly, to bring closure to the family.

It’s been a while and the scene is quiet. The casualty is gone, the deceased still in the car until the forensics are completed. To remove them will mean cutting the car up and we need to know more first. Fire have already placed a blanket over her to offer some dignity, away from prying eyes. The traffic starts to move, but a lot of it is caught between the road block and the scene, and they crawl through. It’s been two hours for some. I am on my phone to the Control Room updating them. The Collision Investigator is making his way up from the other side of the Force and will be here soon, and so we can’t touch anything now. We have the witnesses details, all of which are in shock and will be seen later. We have their initial explanations.

My other ARV is going to the hospital to check on the injured driver, and to try to obtain a breath test. The other one is with the arrested driver beginning a short interview. The cars driving by are looking at us and I feel momentarily guilty for not ‘looking busy’ but there is nothing to do right now. The family Liaison officer has searched the pockets of the deceased in the car. Not a pleasant job. He has the phone details and is trying to research the address. It has to be correct. He can’t get it wrong. But it looks like the officer is texting to passers by. We are in a group in the middle of the road, and receiving scowls from some motorists driving by…

So I ask you, to use that time in the queue to do one thing. Think about your family. Think how it may be if your loved one was trapped in that car with a severed spine, think if you were never going to see them again. Think that that appointment probably can be rearranged again, and think about the family liaison officer walking towards the house with the childrens toys on the garden path. Then when you get back home, hug your family.

twitter – @DC_ARVSgt

Facebook – Sgt Harry Tangye Devon and Cornwall Police

Instagram – DCARVSGT

Youtube – Sgt Harry Tangye

120 thoughts on “A Diversion from my day to day life

    1. That is why this article is written because of people like you who miss the point entirely and then mention spelling and grammar, here’s a bit of grammar for you with some spelling too, you are a complete waste of skin if that is all you get from this article, take your criticism and shove where the sun doesn’t shine you moron


    2. Did this really need to be said liz? I think not given the enormity of the subject matter and the actual point of the blog. Better to be positive than to criticise in my world 🤔


  1. Sometimes the world goes by and we are ignorant and don’t really care until something like this happens, what will it take for us idiots to learn, enjoy life while you can because it is easy to die but harder to live on when someone you love has passed away.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your well thought out report. Complaints about spelling are petty and un-necessary. I would to offer my respects to someone who is doing a wonderful essential job.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Last year I was the person in the upside down car. By some miracle I managed to get my husband and kids out unscathed and I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the blue flashing lights and knew the experts were there to help. On behalf of my family, thank you – THANK YOU – for everything you do.

    Nowadays, I don’t complain about delays. I just thank god and the lucky stars that it’s not me at the front again.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow so eye opening.Sarge as an ex member of the military I have seen enough body’s so you and your mates have my total respect in what you do. As for the idiot Mick who posted a reply in early February it is about time he opened his eyes took a deep breath and got a life because unfortunately many people do not walk away from an R T A.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This should be the back page of Sunday newspapers .
    My sister and brother in law were police officers , and I know they saw some devastating scenes .
    Where would we be without our police force ?
    Who would you turn to ?
    Let’s support them and thank them x


  6. I was stationary in my vehicle week before xmas. I saw a car travelling at high speed racing a bike on a 30mph road . It T Boned me doing clise to 60mph. There was no way he couldve taken that bend. I now am in serious pain . No not tge usual I wanna whiplash claim most of you would do but the type of pain not even morphine is helping, the type of pain that makes you want to put your life0 at an end and yet I too know as an ex cop what it is like to attend those scenes. To date I have had not a single penny to live off. I cant pay my mortgage. I was self employed . No Givt help. NOT a shred of help. Remember folks with a crash no matter how big or small there is always a side you never see. The night I was hit the occupant a female from the house I was nearest too shouted “move your fucking van you stupid cow” . It is imbeciles like her that are what’s wrong with society the non thinkers. The ignorant. The selfish…..I am remindedof her each day I hobble to get a pint of milk as whike she suts smoking outside her house clearly no job. I am just living on that pint of milk and hoping to God I make it back home …..


  7. Oh how very true. Having just retired after 33 years police service as a traffic sergeant, this is something that is replicated across the UK sadly, on a regular basis. I dealt with something similar on a motorway where there were 3 dead, having been ejected from a car. We also had to search for a missing baby that we also suspected was dead. Shock doesn’t even come close to describing what we all felt.

    We had to close the motorway in both directions to search for the missing suspected dead child before they were run over by a lorry. Had to use every traffic resource across the force as well as a helicopter and fire and recue service ( heroes one and all) who turned up with thermal imaging equipment to help search for the baby.

    We found the baby covered in blood ( not hers) and she was rushed off to hospital ( an orphan) and made a good recovery..

    A number of weeks later i was asked to attend a debriefing that was also attended by some big wig politicians who wanted to know whey we closed the motorway!! ( motorway closures cost in the region if 1 million pounds per hour ) No thanks for the hard work by all the emergency services having to deal with the horrors of what we were confronted with.

    I am genuinely sorry if people miss flights for holidays, but at least you will still be going one be it delayed while 3 people are lying in a local mortuary waiting to be identified by heart broken and distraugt relatives.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. While the police service in general can at times be open to justifiable serious criticism the traffic division must be admired and respected for the professionalism and sheer grit that is evident at tragedies such as this one.

    I know one or two traffic officers and have talked in depth with one in particular who tellingly stated that ” it is not the silence of the decapitated corpse but the screams of the trapped person burning to death that really get you”.

    That is a very profound and telling statement from an ex serviceman who had been in the Falklands and Iraqi wars and probably seen it all before.

    He also said that he would throw the book at anyone not wearing a seatbelt or using a mobile at the wheel.

    This was because he once got called to an RTA late in the afternoon on Christmas Eve where being the first on the scene he found a vehicle that had mounted a bank and ended up overturned on the drivers side.

    The driver had not been wearing his seat belt and appeared to have been on his mobile he was halfway out of the window and crushed by the vehicle.

    When support arrived he was tasked with having to drive to the family home not far away to inform the wife who had two young children that her husband was deceased.

    That is one hell of a tough job that can only be done by very special people so please bear with them if they are giving you hell for being a prat at the wheel.


  9. Great blog Harry…. as a retired RP SIO this brings back vivid images of many a scene! I often reflect on how professional my own staff were, particularly FLO’s who would turn out from home if I asked them. The term ‘it’s only an accident after all’ also resonates as a memorable comment said by many around affected or otherwise.

    After retirement I spent 5 years training RP officers in Road Death Investigation and can honestly say that your job is the hardest, yet most satisfying and mind blowing at times…. I miss it!

    Thank you for what you do – Respect 👏

    Liked by 1 person

  10. An excellent and very educational article. You and your colleagues do an extremely difficult and often harrowing job and all too often have the ignorance of the general public aimed at you. I couldn’t do what you do. My total respect and thanks to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Harry – I read this after a link was posted to a tweet by the execrable Jeremy Clarkson. I consider myself a reasonably sanguine man, but have to admit to having sat in traffic caused by accidents in the past, and been irritated at the delay to my journey. This brings home the enormity of the task you face on a weekly basis – my hat goes off to you, and the people you work with. It’s a horrendous job, and I’m glad there are people like you willing to do it

    Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

  12. An excellent and sobering blog Harry.
    As a retired RPO some of the scenes I had to deal with still haunt me and the ones involving children cause me to well up many years later.
    The shear ignorance and selfishness of a small percentage of the population no longer surprises me and sadly Jeremy Clarkson, funny as he can be, is one of that minority.
    I often wonder how he and they would react if they were to witness the carnage that the Police have to deal with.
    Keep doing what you do best and take as long as it needs to secure that last shred of vital evidence.
    The vast majority of right minded people are one hundred percent behind you.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Much more education is needed to reduce road casualties. I drive heavy vehicles and want no more than an uneventful day. The only contact I need is between the tyres and the road. Many are aware of the dangers and too many not. Most do their best to get everyone home safe and feel it for those that don’t. Our friends and families are on the roads we share. There have to be solutions but we need the optimism and tenacity to find them.
    I think the majority understand the value of the emergency services and could not or would not do their job. Safety needs to be at the front of the mind. Sometimes it’s as simple as leaving more room for mistakes, braking a bit earlier or making allowances for others if they have got it wrong and of course hoping they would do the same for you and yours.
    Drivers can be engaged or alienated. It would be comforting to know safety is a common aim.
    Apologies for the grammar, time is against us.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Thank you so much for writing this and educated the general public. You do a brilliant job and I don’t think Jeremy Clarkson will continue to have his opinion when he read this. Stay safe Sir.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. As someone who drives for a living, I’ve passed by many accident scenes and every time I see blue flashing lights I hope for the best but also know there is a good chance someone is not going home. I salute all the work the emergency services do and I’m always happy to wait if that’s what is required.


  16. Much respect to you all. Can you not do the drivers that slow down to look and take photos too. I know it’s more officers needed. We do need you officers


  17. This article is a good insight into the mentality and culture of public services where the individual is of higher importance than the many. It’s no different to how schools ban peanuts because one child has an allergy or another has prayer time at 2pm in the afternoon so we all have to stop. This is a common culture within the public service. We all have to adapt to the maximum possible degree to one person or be labeled as inconsiderate/racist/awful person. As tragic and horrifying as a RTD is, there is modern technology such as high resolution 3D scene mapping scanners that can be set up, scan a scene for it to be forever preserved digitally for future investigation. But as ever, the public service is resistant to change and the theatre of an RTA is ever enhanced by closing a road down for seemingly as long as humanly possible to cause maximum inconvenience. And dare you point any of this out you get the predictable…well don’t you know someone just died you selfish *****. Oh the family, oh the misery, it’s just me me me, alright Jack. These endless road closures are the public service saying, look how important we are. It’s just another expression of the huge, interfering and expensive state where the more costly and longer something takes, then the more important of a job it must be. Oh and can we have another pay rise?


    1. As I can see from the posters here, they just do not have the intellect to question authorities such is the level of civil obedience and propagandisation within the British public. The particular traffic cop that wrote this I have utmost respect for. The problem is the culture of the public services to which he is completely immersed in. There is no reason why a road should not be reopened for 8 or sometimes 24 hours. None. With modern 3D scanning techniques the roads should be open within 1 hour. But as they say, the squeaky when gets the oil.

      Of course it’s tragic when someone dies. Effectively what is having communicated from a psychological perspective from this article is that, even though we do not know the person that died, we have an obligation to be mourn this person via massive imposed inconvenience by public services because, were simply an uncaring excrement if we do not. Sorry but we all die one day and that’s life. I don’t expect anyone except my friends and family to mourn me and that doesn’t change whether or not I die in a hospital ward or on a road.


      1. It’s a myth that technology can speed things up. It has a limited benefit with regards to saving an hour not 8 hours. Forensic officers have to get on the ground and analyse the marks which will give them evidence to put someone in jail or allow them to run free again to do further carnage. Equipment with satellite GPS only works when there are no trees overhead. These cost £60,000 and are purchased but will only save about an hour. You expect a murder to be fully investigated. If I had killed someone and wanted to get away with it, I would personally put them in a car at night and push it into a ditch. Say no more!


  18. I hope the traffic cop sees this and becomes red pilled by my statements of fact but I won’t hold my breath with the public service.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s