Friday, January 1, 2016

It's Only Me- Chapter 30- Rick Stines, the Accident and Gun Charge

If my story seems short on “family life” type stuff it is only because I consider myself to be one of the most inept and ill equipped parents to have ever walked the earth. I was making all the same mistakes as my dad, yelling and flying off for seemingly little reason. Don’t get me wrong- there were times when I was justifiably angry- but just as often I was simply overwhelmed.

That said, my work life was going well as I went from job to job, always for more money and responsibility. I was learning a tremendous amount about how things are planned and built. I was also learning about Construction Law, which would come in handy later on for a variety of reasons.

By 1992 I was working for Rick Stine and Sons outside of Frederick, Maryland. He had set up some trailers in the woods behind his home in Woodsboro. I did my estimating there. It was a great place to work and the Frederick area was also a great place to explore with Sarah and Sue on the weekends. We went to the Zoo and fed the animals, walked through the woods and looked at the streams. For all the problems I had dealing with being a father there were still some nice times.

For the first time ever I had an assistant to do some of the hand grids for taking off the earth quantities. His name was Russ Robertson and he was about 22. We would roam around looking at job sites and sometimes just mess around exploring the mountains and streams around Woodsboro. Sometimes we would drive to Baltimore and go to the Zoo. I even took him to Pigtown to see the hookers and outdoor drug markets. He had never been to Baltimore and was wide eyed at it all.

Around this time 2 memorable events happened. The first was the time I shot Richie Jrs. pickup truck right through the radiator. He was a typical owners kid- spoiled and troublesome. We had several "Port a Johns" scattered about the property and he would tip them or hit them with his truck when they were being used. Several guys got seriously “dirtied up” from his fooling around. I had warned him not to mess with me in that regard or there would be repercussions. I guess he didn’t hear me.

I was using the "Port a John" one day when he hit it with his pickup. It didn’t turn over- just splashed some and got me a little wet. Charging out I looked around but he was nowhere in sight. But his truck was. Reaching for my pistol (a .380) I took aim at the grill and let fly, emptying the clip into his radiator and hood.

Richie came out of the woods and went screaming down the path to his house. Several minutes later his Mom came to the trailer and started to yell at me. I stopped her and told her that I had warned the boy and that the next time I would shoot Richie rather than the truck. She fled back to the house.

About 20 minutes later Rick,Sr came in and started to give me hell. I stopped him and explained that he was lucky it was me and not someone else delivering this lesson to his son. The next person just might kill the boy. Nothing further was said.

Another episode that sticks out from this period is my accident in the Catoctin Mountains outside of Camp David, Maryland. This was in the summer of 1994. The road there is one lane in either direction and I took a curve too wide coming face to face with a fully loaded 20 ton dump truck. I remember thinking, “Oh, shit!” Then there was a shattering of glass and a twisting of metal. The sky was turning around and around as my truck , an S-10, reacted to the collision by doing several 360 degree spins. When everything stopped there was a deathly silence.

I was passing in and out of consciousness and at one point a sheet was placed over my face. I came to with my arms flailing and yelling, “I’m not dead- I’m not dead!” The sheet was lifted and a soothing voice informed me that the sheet was to protect my face while they removed the windshield. I was pinned by the steering wheel and my right leg was impaled by some sort of rod.

At one point when I was conscious I asked Trooper Updergraff to take charge of my pistol, which was under the front seat. I did not want it to fall into the wrong hands. It was registered in my name. I recall seeing the Firemen and Troopers playing with it before I passed out again.

Using the Jaws of Life and saws it took an hour and a half to remove me from the wreck. The mountain was closed in both directions. Being outside of Camp David had its’ advantages. I had 3 helicopters trying to claim the jurisdiction to fly me out to Hagerstown. The Marines from Camp David claimed me, as did the National Guard, but in the end the Maryland State Troopers won and took me to the hospital in Hagerstown.

Sue was summoned and raced the 60 miles to the hospital. She was pulled over for speeding on the way, but after explaining the situation the Trooper let her go.

When Sue got to the hospital I had already been scanned from head to toe. I had several broken ribs and a puncture wound to my right leg. They told me the puncture wound was not serious. I disagreed and after several hours I realized that staying there was going to be a problem. They refused to debride the puncture wound!

I told Sue to grab a wheelchair- we were going home. The doctors and nurses were furious and had lots of papers for me to sign about leaving against medical advice. I signed them all as Sue wheeled me out.

The next day I went to see Doctor Shaffer, my personal Physician. He agreed about the puncture wound and debrided it. You could hear my screams way out in the waiting area.

On Sunday I woke up and the wound was bad- it was going toward gangrene. I called Dr. Shaffer and he came to the house after church. He arrived without his bag and had to debride the wound again using a knife from my kitchen, which we sterilized with boiling water and alcohol. All in all I was lucky to be alive and was back on my feet in a week or so.

Now, back to the gun. It was approaching 16 weeks after the accident, which happened in August, when I began to try and retrieve my pistol. This was not easy. Apparently my weapon had disappeared. In addition there was no record of it having been turned over to Trooper Updergraff or its' being received at the Property Clerks Office. This was going to be tricky.

On the one hand I did not want the weapon floating around and turning up after use in a crime. On the other hand I did not want to engage in a battle of wits with the State Police. But my real fear was that the pistol was going to be used as a “drop” gun by a police officer. A “drop” gun is a stolen or unregistered weapon that is “dropped” at the scene by an officer after a shooting. This gives the officer a cover story if the shooting was not “clean.” I could also picture myself being charged at some later date with a homicide if the weapon had been sold and was on the street. In short, if I could not recover the weapon I wanted a receipt.

I was informed by the State Prosecutors Office that receipts were not issued for lost property. I reiterated my position to no avail. I called Trooper Updergraff and explained my concerns. He threatened me with arrest and incarceration pending trial. This is when I started thinking... and so, accordingly, I went to the library.

Looking up the State Statutes on Weapons Charges I found one that I could live with and which would also serve as a receipt for the pistol. I called Trooper Updergraff and had him meet me in the woods behind Rick Stines. I demanded to be cited for “carrying a handgun in a vehicle against the Peace and Dignity of the State.” It was like a traffic ticket and though it carried a penalty of 1 year and a $1,000 fine it was never enforced. Trooper Upergraff was not pleased and so he gave me a ticket for crossing the centerline as well as the weapons citation. Court was scheduled for Januray.

I arrived at Court early and, as usual, without counsel. The Prosecutor and Trooper Updergraff were waiting for me and we arrived at an agreement. I would plead guilty, pay a small fine and serve no time. I would also formally forfeit the weapon to the State, but this was not to infringe upon my right to Possess Arms in the future. It was a misdemeanor. I would also agree to not ask the State to produce the physical evidence. With supreme confidence we entered the Courtroom.

The Judge was in a foul mood and gave me 30 days! This was after he bullied me about not having a lawyer. We were clearly not getting along! Trooper Updergraff and the Prosecutor both approached the Judge and then summoned me to join them. It was agreed by all that the 30 days would be suspended and I would pay a $300 fine. I would also do 18 months Unsupervised Probation. I would also agree to forfeiture of the weapon without future infringements upon my rights to purchase firearms. This was acceptable to all parties and the case was closed. I now had my defacto receipt. This deal would never have been accomplished had I used Counsel.

The following spring Rick Stine entered into negotiations with Albert Williams of Williams Construction, at that time the biggest road contractor in the state. He was of no relation to me.

Essentially, Rick Stine had incurred a lot of debt and wanted to partner with Williams so he would in essence be sharing this debt. But Williams Construction wasn't in the best of shape either. So what you really had was two pricks trying to screw one another. This was going to be very interesting...

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