My beloved wife Lisa and I were strolling on a scenic trail between the tiny seaside village of Capitola and New Brighten Beach. The path winds through a eucalyptus grove, across a seasonal stream then out onto a cliff side trail where the waves crash over 100 feet below. You can see all the way to Monterey on a clear day and the view is breathtaking. The end of the trail comes out onto a section of railroad tracks, and after that point, it meets a trail that goes down to the beach.
When we got to the tracks, I noticed what seemed like garbage or a pile of clothes on the track. I grabbed my camera so I could get a closer look with my zoom lens, as I felt that this might be a body lying on the tracks on which trains travel a couple of times a day. Sure enough it was a body, so I told Lisa to stay back while I took a closer look. This was a dangerous place for someone to take a nap. I began to yell as I approached and I could identify this was a young man but he didn’t respond. I called back to Lisa to call 911.
I was within two steps of him when my yelling woke him enough for him to roll over. He was alive. And he was young. I would estimate his age to be about 18 or 20. He was lethargic and his words were inaudible. I have been around enough young people when they are on drugs to know he was in danger of hurting himself if the train didn’t get him first. He tried to stand but he couldn’t seem to get to his feet and I was leery of grabbing him unless a train was coming. He was filthy dirty, his clothes hung from him as if they weren’t his own and he could barely open his eyes.
I couldn’t help but think of my son’s last days on the streets, deeply addicted, in San Diego, before he had his moment of epiphany and went to rehab–so many years ago now–and wonder if he was ever this bad.
The ambulance, fire department and police showed up within minutes and the young man got to his feet to elude them and he stumbled down the tracks.
Drug addiction takes our children to dark and dangerous places, and I knew as I watched this drama that this boy had to be somebody’s baby.