Great Escapes: Two Stories of Daring Joyrides

I- Runaway Train

I have previously written about a young aboriginal boy age 15 whom I evaluated after he was charged with the joyriding of a locomotive. Well I think the official charge was something akin to grand theft train, but I can’t really recall.

Having ADD made him an excitement oriented, risk taking, impulse ridden, adrenaline junkie. Add a considerable amount of alcohol and marijuana into the mix and you have a recipe for a reckless disaster. This is what happened after a home-brew party not far from Pine Point NWT, home to a now defunct iron ore mine. There was one rail line between Pine Point and Edmonton,  and our hero stumbled through early  one morning, straight  into the lead cab of two back to back idling engines followed by a string of ore cars . The engineer was nowhere in sight and our hero, bright fellow that he was  quickly figured out how to get the units in motion. The problem was he really wasn’t clear about where the brakes were.

The RCMP and the railway cops weren’t entirely in synch on the best approach to stopping several thousand tons of steel trundling along at 20 mph. They considered diversion onto a siding but that would likely end at some point with a derailment and an injured or dead boy and smashed rolling stock.
They did set up a track block of barricades but the train quickly demolished it. That must have been quite a sight. Eventually in a sobering up panic state some 25 miles down the track he figured out where the emergency fuel cut off switch was and the diesels came to a slow halt.

After his arrest, I interviewed him at the Yellowknife correctional centre.  There really was nothing glaringly wrong with him-no abuse history and he had a  good family. No criminal conduct beyond school suspensions for fighting and mouthing off  to teachers. The usual ADD history. Nothing unusual there. He was supposed to be on Ritalin but only took it sporadically. He was partly remorseful only because his newly acquired notoriety was good for his self-esteem. He pled guilty and I wrote his pre-sentence report which led to a suspended sentence and probation. I lost track of him after that but he would be about 50 now and will have  good stories for his grand-kids.

 

II- Fields of Rippling Wheat

Our next hero also age 15 lived much further south. He was a black boy from the hind end of Wichita KS, with a single crackhead mother and multiple abusive fathers. Not a good start. He was tough as nails, mouthy and made his way as a ganbanger selling drugs and doing drive bys. He ended up at the residential treatment centre where I worked and where he continued his oppositional defiant posture, making zero progress in the process.

He asked to be sent to a detention centre where he could just do time and not this “pussy cracker treatment crap”. This was new terminology for a shrink from Canuckistan.
He went AWOL a lot to make his point but as the facility was in the middle of farm country there was nowhere to go and as a dark complexioned fellow in white-bread Kansas, nowhere to hide. Not that that deterred him.

One day he took off as usual,  I saw  him go from my office window and followed him into the wheat field where he was hiding. I tried to engage him with my emergency medical procedure of a smoke and coffee but he maintained he would only return if I promised him there would be no consequences. Hearing the youth workers approaching he took off like Usain Bolt on speed. This time it was into the next field where he jumped onto a very large red Massey Ferguson combine harvester. He started it up and off he was at about 10 mph. Now these units are large and intimidating and not really designed for joyrides but he ended up on a back road that eventually would connect with the interstate. He kept on his merry way despite smashing through a hastily assembled barricade.

I worked with enough of these kids to realize the depth of their fearless impulsivity and determination. It was all rather entertaining from where I was, but the Kansas State troopers didn’t share my sentiments. The thing about American cops is that they like their guns and at the next road junction they aimed more firepower at that harvester cab then the Serbian army likely had in their entire arsenal. He stopped thankfully.
My boss who was an imposing Episcopal liberal democrat priest and Vietnam vet argued for his return to the facility but the judge tossed him in detention in keeping with his wishes.
Father Tom never liked losing a boy to the “dark side”, as the program philosophy was that they were all God’s children, but I used to think that sometimes the devil had his say.
Conclusion:

Case 1.
Never mix the central nervous system of an immature ADD boy with booze and THC.  A human body is a dangerous item to be let loose without its brain attached and operating.
Case 2.
Rule1 : Sadly sometimes psychological damage is just too severe to be remedied, leaving only external control
Rule 2 : Priests and shrinks can’t change rule 1

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One Response to “Great Escapes: Two Stories of Daring Joyrides”

  1. kristina Nadreau says:

    These Cases do not provide even anecdotal data in support of your conclusions, in Rules 1 and 2. also, the “psychological damage” may be genetic, not environmental.

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