Hand of Fate
On CNT, a ribbon runs along the bottom of the TV stating: “Breaking News: Quarryville, PA Jet Crash.”
"Natalee Spalding reporting on the Hemispheres jet crash. One of our reporters in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, has an exclusive interview with a rescuer."
The frazzled looking rescue worker, wearing a hardhat and his yellow and gray firefighter uniform is on camera. The graphic below the image says, "Dale Peterson – Quarryville Fire-Rescue."
Peterson: One of my team was checking for pulses on any person that we located near the center part of the fuselage and we found none, and then we're placing a young female into a body bag when I noticed some twitching of the female's arm. So I reached down and felt a very faint pulse on her and hollered over to some of the guys. We got an oxygen mask on her and the doc took over. I can only say that this female passenger is alive but not awake or talking.
Reporter: Is there any type of identification? Can you describe the female any further?
Peterson: "Covered with soot and blood. She was laying kind of face down in the aisle under portions of luggage and debris and stray parts of – that uhh, I can’t really talk about – it was just so bad. But I, I would say she was probably somewhere between 16 and maybe 25 years old, brown shoulder-length hair, no identification. We did find…she had a necklace on with a hand-like charm thing that…uhh…the doctor has got it. I'm not sure what they're called, but it’s got a hand shaped thing on it.
Reporter: Was she awake? Was she able to communicate with rescue personnel or the doctor?
Peterson: No sir. We couldn’t communicate with her, and she is being transported by rescue copter to a trauma center.
Reporter to camera: I can tell you that an air rescue helicopter was seen inside the perimeter, where we have not been given access. Reporting from Quarryville, this is Roger Summers for CNT.
Rules are meant to be broken, but violating the no-cell-phone policy in class at MA can mean suspension. Today that doesn’t matter. Several of the students secretly check their cell phones for texts or tweets, including Iris Bailey. Right now she doesn’t care. This is an emergency. Let them kick me out, she thinks, they will have to throw out half the upper-school student body too.
She looks down at her phone and sees a news alert: "Quarryville rescue personnel report female survivor."
She continues to scroll on her phone and sees another report that says: "Survivor-No ID, Wearing Hand Charm Necklace."
Iris literally leaps up from her chair while wildly waving her hand, like a third grader.
"Mr. James, Amanda may have survived the crash and uh, please, uh, can I be excused? I would like to go tell Headmaster Johnson about what is going on."
Everyone in the class, as they see the updates on their own phones, joins in her request. "They found one female survivor and I think it may be her. Can I go down to the front office?"
"Class, please…please! Everyone be quiet now. Iris, you, and you alone, can go."
Iris immediately hugs Charlyne Bennington, and then squeezes the hand of Amber Fields, both soccer teammates, and she races toward the headmaster's office. Bolting in, she blurts out, "CNT just reported that they found a female survivor…I think it’s Amanda, she wears that necklace. I swear it’s her!"
“Iris, slow down, slow down. Wears what?”
“CNT just said that a crash survivor has a necklace with a hand charm on it. It’s Amanda, it has to be…she wears a hand necklace.”
Headmaster Johnson asks, "What kind of hand?"
"You know, it's like a little hand on a necklace, it’s a charm. Amanda was the only person I know who wore one. It's supposed to ward off the evil eye or something. Amanda is Jewish and she told me what it was. It has meaning in some other religions too. So, can you call the CNT reporter? Please?"
"I…I’ll have to locate her phone number." Johnson says, while thinking what to do.
"I know," Iris says, "we should call Amanda's Aunt Barbara, or her dad's brother, Andy. I am sure they know she wears a hand necklace and maybe they can contact someone to confirm it's her."
"That’s a good idea," Johnson agrees. He asks his office secretary to look up the next-of-kin contact information. “Iris, I need you to set a good example for the upper school. Be strong. Please go back to class. Trust me, I will make an announcement when we have all the best information.”
Swiveling his chair around, Andy stares at the pictures on the credenza. The D.C. triathlon. Himself, Ron, and Alex, one of their closest buddies. His cell phone rings, and he sees “Perry Carson” on the screen. Carson wrote a series of stories on Andy’s handling of the 9/11 cases, which ultimately landed Andy on the front of Capitol Law. Can’t burn a bridge, Andy concludes.
“Andy Michaels here.”
“Andy, this is Perry.”
“I know Perry, what’s up?”
“First, I want to express my deepest condolences about the news involving your brother and sister-in-law. But, did you see the news on CNT just now that there is one female survivor? There is speculation it’s your niece.”
Andy feels his heartbeat spike.
“No, I just stepped away from the TV here a few minutes ago.”
“They just interviewed a rescue worker. There is definitely a female survivor, but she is not conscious, they said. It’s a young girl kind of meeting Amanda’s description and she was wearing a necklace that they described as having a hand charm. Do you think that is your niece?”
Andy thinks for a moment. Yeah, a hamsa. “Where are they taking her--the survivor?”
“All they said is that a rescue chopper was taking her to a trauma center.”
“Amazing, thanks! Talk with you later.” Andy replies.
“Andy, I know now is not the time, but I hope you will talk with me when the time is right. It’s obvious you’re going to be representing your family members in the cases.”
Andy goes catatonic. Sure, he is eager to get the big injury cases---but he had never contemplated the thought of marching into D.C. Superior Court representing his own brother or any family member. He runs through the massive number of legal permutations.
“Are you still there?” Carson asks. Nothing.
“Look, totally off the record, of course I will talk to you first. But there’s a lot I need to do now. Thanks for the call.”
“Great. I wish you the best with your family.” Perry says. “Call me if you need anything.”
“Andy, Alex Erickson is here to see you.” Myra announces on his speakerphone.
“Send him back.”
Alex Erickson is one of Andy's best friends, but was even tighter with Ron. Ron and Alex were tennis, skiing and triathlon mates, and Andy often joined them. For five consecutive years, Alex, Ron and Andy proudly finished the Ironman triathlon of Georgetown, running and biking through Rock Creek Park and swimming the Potomac. It had been grueling, but their sense of accomplishment was immense. They had survived a number of boys-only ski trips together. Once Alex and his wife had kids, Amanda had been Alex and Denise’s favorite babysitter.
“I left work as soon as I heard,” Alex says as he enters Andy’s office. Andy begins to get up from his seat, awkwardly trying to decide whether to come around toward Alex.
“Don’t get up. I am so sorry Andy. Has there been any further news?”
“Yeah, actually we just heard some great news from CNT. There is one survivor and it very well may be Amanda.”
“Fantastic, amazing! What’s her condition?
“No one knows, the rescue guy at the scene said the survivor was not conscious. She was wearing a hand necklace, which fits Amanda’s description.”
“That’s awesome. Andy, are they sure there is only one survivor?”
“That’s what they’re saying.”
“Oh God.” Alex just shakes his head back and forth. “Can I do anything for you? Have you called Barbara or Becca?”
“Barb, yes. But, I haven’t called Becca yet, and right now I am hoping to find out where they are taking Amanda. I’m going to call Hemispheres back right now.”
After Andy’s call, the Hemispheres Emergency Response Center communicates with the chopper pilot. The patient will be carried to the major trauma center at Loudoun Memorial Hospital near Reston, Virginia. Hemispheres tells Andy to appear at the hospital to provide a possible ID. Possible, not positive. Alex tells Andy to text or call him if he needs him.
Enroute to the hospital, Andy fields a cell phone call on his Bluetooth from Angie.
“Sorry to call, but do you have Amanda’s medical history with you? I have the file from your office cabinet in front of me.”
“Good call. I forgot all about that. I’m driving and can’t write, so can you text me the stuff?” Andy asks.
Andy speeds down the road toward the hospital, and possibly Amanda.
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