Legend of the Incinerated Trooper


Today, cameras record everything. Nothing escapes their intrusiveness. No matter the time or place of an event, a veritable multitude of cameras zero in to record the details.

So it happened when Joplin Farnswelle, driving under the influence of too many martinis, slammed his brand-new Ferrari into an overpass abutment. The vehicle immediately erupted into a ball of flames that produced a pall of black smoke.

Digital cameras on continuous activation, from half a dozen points of view, faithfully recorded the smashup, the crumpling of the vehicle and the explosion of the gasoline-fed fire. Most of the cameras viewed the scene from the dashboards of nearby cars and trucks; two recorded the event from the helmets of husband-and-wife motorcyclists.

Astoundingly, when Joplin Farnswelle's Ferrari became a fiery trap for the hapless driver, a state trooper sprang from a patrol car that had skidded to a stop just opposite the accident. The officer raced directly toward the burning vehicle. As cameras continued to record the event, the trooper yanked open the driver side door and began to pull Farnswelle out of the engulfing flames.

As Farnswelle, clothing ablaze, tottered and fell away, the Ferrari's fuel tank detonated with a tremendous roar.

Then, horror of horrors as the two grappled — writhing victim and struggling trooper — the agitated and frightened Farnswelle managed to pivot away and, in so doing, pushed the officer right into the flame-choked car. As Farnswelle, clothing ablaze, tottered and fell away, the Ferrari's fuel tank detonated with a tremendous roar.

Later, investigators found no recognizable trace of the trooper — not even a partly melted badge. In addition, the trooper's patrol car had mysteriously disappeared.

Many ordinary citizens subsequently have offered their own explanations, some of which tend toward the fantastic.

Some people believe the trooper miraculously extracted himself from the burning vehicle and then drove himself to the nearest hospital for treatment of his burns. Others say the trooper perished in the explosion and that his ghost drove away in the patrol car.

In some circles the event has generated an entirely unique story line. This accounting, told in gatherings where people speak of such things in furtive tones, have it that the dead trooper's wraith, arriving at scenes of highway accidents in an unidentifiable patrol car, races on foot to rescue victims from burning vehicles, from overturned cars and trucks, and from mangled automobiles.

Thus, the Legend of the Incinerated Trooper.

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