Friday, August 20, 2010

Investigation Safety

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Written by Steve Bartnicki

I am going to relate a story to you that happened to me and why everyone needs a safety plan to protect themselves during investigations. Now I am not talking about protecting yourself from otherworldly things. I am speaking of protecting yourself from the living, breathing, bad elements we could confront anywhere in today's society while on an investigation.

While Janet and I served as Regional Directors for another paranormal group, we conducted an investigation in Portsmouth, VA. The investigation itself was completed with no problems. It was about 1 am and the team made plans to get a late night bite to eat. It was raining so I decided to go get the truck and pickup my wife so she didn't get soaked. I started to meander to my vehicle with 2 other members, while everyone else was still standing outside the residence. We crossed the street to the parking lot.

Now I will mention that Portsmouth does have its "seedier" areas. This was not one of them. As we reached the parking lot, the woman who was walking with us overturned her equipment case. The other male and I stopped to help her but he said, "I got it Steve" and I proceeded to my truck which was about 25 yards away. As I rounded the vehicle next to mine, I looked and saw someone sitting in my truck.

Adrenaline is a funny thing. My only thought was that someone was in my vehicle trying to steal it. To say I became angry is an understatement! I yelled some "four letter" explicative’s at the culprit and proceeded to rip him out of the vehicle. The first time the thought went through my mind that he might have a gun was when I had him by his collar. That was way too late and if he did have a gun, I probably wouldn't be here writing this today. What he did have was a knife.

Instead of backing off when I saw the knife, my thought was there isn't enough room between these two trucks. So...I started to drag him at arms length to a more open part of the parking lot. I yelled to the other male to call the police. The culprit was swinging his knife wildly trying to turn me into a pin cushion. Why he didn't just stab me in the arm, I will never know. As I was dragging him, I stepped on a ketchup pack (which I didn't find out until later why I slipped) and between the ketchup pack and the rain I hit the asphalt.

Thankfully, when I yelled to my team member he sent the female member back to the residence to call the police while he came to help me. He arrived just as I fell and when the culprit saw that there were now two of us...he fled. I am eternally grateful to Terry who has since moved on to DC Metro Area Ghost Watchers (DCMAG). He probably saved my life and I had just met Terry for the first time that night!

Now of course everyone ran to the parking to make sure everything was okay. People were saying, "Boy Steve you were brave." NO...STEVE WAS STUPID! I could have been killed! The police eventually arrived and took statements. We investigated the truck for missing items, cleaned the broken glass out and discovered that the thief had caused some pretty good damage to the steering column and we couldn't start the truck.

Everyone left us standing there to go eat, including this particular group's Director, except guessed it Terry... and also his friend (and now ours), Al Tyas who now serves as the Director for DCMAG. They even graciously offered us money for the tow truck if we didn't have enough. Had Terry and Al not stayed behind and then drove us home behind the tow truck, we would probably still be standing there in Portsmouth.

So where did we all go wrong in this tale...

  • #1: We did not all leave together. This wouldn't have stopped the thief from breaking into my vehicle, but my guess is if he saw 10 people walking toward the parking lot...he would have bolted on his own accord!
  • #2: I should never have approached the vehicle. So what if he stole the truck, that is why we have insurance.
  • #3: I found out later that even though we weren't in a "seedier" area of Portsmouth, there was one about 3 blocks away. Make sure you know your investigation location. I know this isn't always possible...but my recommendation would be to do your best. I would not have parked were I did had I known about the rift-raft located just a few blocks away.
  • #4: Like they say in that navy flight movie with Goose and Maverick...never, ever leave your wingman! If for some reason, something unfortunate does happen. Stay with your teammates! Don't leave them stranded and hope someone else will help them out. This could be a simple as a vehicle breakdown. Ever been on a long dark road and your car quits? Not fun if it is just you! Best said...Put yourself in their shoes.

I would again like to give my heartfelt thanks to Al and Terry for staying with us through the whole ordeal. I, also, hope everyone can learn from the stupid mistakes made that night in Portsmouth, VA and prevent something like that from happening again. If your group doesn't have safety guidelines...MAKE THEM NOW!

On a lighter note...there were two known psychics at the investigation. You'd think they would have seen it coming :-). Happy hunting and take care Y'all!

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