Sometimes there are things that happen one would like to forget. As hard as I try this story still haunts me this time of year. I have only shared this with a few close friends and my brother those around me that wouldn't throw me in the mental ward. Turn an extra light on and I will share with you a rainy night on Hwy 77
Well Hwy 77 runs north and south in Mississippi County Arkansas. It even runs past Dyess Arkansas Home of Johnny Cash. It was about ten years ago in mid October I was on night shift with Mississippi County Sheriff Department as sargent of night patrol. It had been a crazy night my other three officers had made around 75 traffic stops that evening assisted in back up on several signal 40's domestic violence. To top it off it was a rainy night which made it hard to get across the county at safe speed and effective time when called to back up. I had radioed into the 81(Sheriff office) and told them I was going to my 42 for about thirty minutes to eat. I took Hwy 77 to Manila and it was pretty quiet didn't met much traffic. Officer 135 also lived in Manila and was patrolling the north end of the county I met him at the Road Mart before I went to my 42. He was going to Leachville to help the chief of police there investigate a lead on a break in.
I was sitting in my kitchen at about 12:20 when my portable went off requesting me to 10-19 to hwy 77 and 158 along the flood-ways. Dispatch advised there had been a multiple MVA that involved a Tanker, two other vehicles and a mini van with two children trapped in the back seat. I was advise that fire and ambulance had been dispatched. I ran to my car and ran lights and siren. I radioed 135 and told him we were going to need him to assist and he said he was about 5 miles behind me. I was running about 105 when about 3 miles out of town, the rain became misty and a low fog started to move in so I slowed to about 75 when on the side of the road I saw a man walking, he was tall dark headed and wearing a leather Jacket and blue Jean and smoking a cigarette. G'damn it just about hit him, my heart went into my throat as I clutched the steering wheel. I got on the radio and told 135 to watch the bastard walking on the side of the road. After I passed him the fog let up and the rain started again. I sped back up to get to the trapped kids. 135 came on the radio and said Sarge where did you say you say that man, I repeated myself to 135. He came back and said I must have seen a bush or something because he just passed there and saw nothing.
I went about another 4 miles and the rain once again turned into a mist with a low fog appeared. Son of a bitch I thought to myself is every dumb ass out hitchhiking in the f'n weather I swerved to the center and when I got up on him I swear it was the same tall dark headed man with leather Jacket and jeans.I passed him and looked into my rear view and I could see the orange glow of him smoking a cigarette. WTF trust me no cars had passed me how the hell did he get in front of me. I just asked 135 to watch because some other dumb ass was walking on the side of the road. a few minutes later 135 said Sarge you really might want to consider taking some time off because he didn't see anyone. At about 12 miles from the scene I received a call from one of my other officers on scene that advised I might need to have dispatch call out 500 that is the code we use for the coroner that one was 10-7. I radioed dispatch and no more advised them when the mist and fog rolled back in and the same man was walking. I didn't even bother telling 135 because I know he would have thought I was crazy. I passed him and looked back I could see the glow of that damn cigarette and he vanished in the fog.
I made it on scene and the children had been extracted and taken by the ambulance to the hospital. The driver of the diesel was uninjured and gave us his statement. He was making a turn off of 158 onto 77 when out of nowhere a Harley Davidson was in his turn lane coming straight at him. When he hit his breaks and swerved to miss him the pickup truck rear ended the diesel and was pushed into the lane of the on coming mini van. The Harley ran up under the semi trailer and lodged between the trailer and the truck and the rider was killed on impact. After taking his statement I went the coroner's van to take a look at the rider to see if it was someone I knew locally. I got weak in my knees and a sinking feeling in my chest when he pulled back the sheet. It was a tall dark headed man wearing a leather jacketand jeans. In his shirt pocket was an open pack of Camel cigarettes with three missing from the pack. To this day when patrolling late at night on Hwy 77 sometimes I look in my rear view when there is a fog and think sometimes I see the dim orange glow of a cigarette.