I’ve been a journalist at the Southern Standard for over a year now. I majored in this field in college, while interning at MTSU’s newspaper, Sidelines, where I covered topics I thoroughly love, including music and cultural events. This year’s been my first time having to report fatalities, injuries, fires and court cases.
Both times I’ve driven to a scene coming over the scanner as a wreck with injuries, I’ve prayed desperately for the wreck with injuries to stay just that, injuries, and not result in deaths. Unfortunately, both times, the latter was what I found as I stood on the pavement staring at the wreckage that claimed a human life.
I’ve witnessed a passing motorist who tried to come to the rescue before the police and EMTs arrived, fall on me as tears streamed down her face, saying she should’ve done this or that, or could’ve done more. I told the woman the victim had been killed on impact. There was nothing she could’ve done. I know those images will haunt her for years to come.
The previous day, I was shaking as I saw a white sheet covering the body of a victim from a motorcycle crash, thinking of his friends, family and wondering who he was as an individual before his life was taken.
I still remember his body lying next to the motorcycle wreckage. I know the man driving the tractor the motorcyclist hit will probably carry the moment of impact heavily in his heart.
Court cases involving child rape and murder are hard pills to swallow. You desperately hope justice will prevail, but many times, that’s not the case. When a child takes the stand and begins giving details about how he or she was exploited by someone they should’ve been able to trust is gut-wrenching. Especially with the fact many of these suspects will be found not guilty, and the child will carry the pain and fear inside of them throughout their life.
These experiences haven’t hardened me or made me calloused. In fact, I believe they’ve done the opposite. I’ve learned the fragility of human beings, including myself. I ponder the stories, loved ones and emotions every person carries inside of them, and how quickly everything could change in such a brief moment.
When I hear a dead on arrival call on the scanner or wreck with injuries, I’ll never stop praying everyone is OK. I’ll never stop crying as I drive away from a tragedy hurting another human.
My stomach will never stop turning as I listen to a child break down in tears on the stand due to abuse and I'll never forget that behind each story there is a sense of humanity.
Standard reporter Atlanta Northcutt can be reached at 473-2191.