IT HAPPENED TO ME: I Found a Dead Body in a School Parking Lot

My mother shined her headlights on the body, but he didn't budge. My stepmom called 911.
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Kalyn Helton
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My mother shined her headlights on the body, but he didn't budge. My stepmom called 911.

That Thursday was a day of firsts. My sister, who had recently gotten engaged, planned to go wedding dress shopping, and I wanted to be there for her. She had made an appointment to look at dresses as late as she could for my work schedule; the shop was a few hours away. I wanted to be by her side through the indecisiveness of picking out the dress.

After checking with four members of management at my job, they approved leaving a few hours early. While walking out the door, I received comments from male coworkers like, "Why are you going two hours away to look at wedding dresses if it's not even your wedding?" Rolling my eyes, I got in my car and drove to meet my mom, stepmom, sister, and sister's friend at a local high school where my stepmom worked. We were all coming from different places, and the high school was the closest place for everyone to meet up. I arrived at the high school and got in my mother's car; she was going to drive us all to our lacy destination.

I spent most of the afternoon and evening giving my amazing advice. Unfortunately, we left the shop empty handed, but having a better idea of what she didn't want. (Who knew there are lavender wedding dresses?)

We arrived back at the high school around 8:30 at night. It was pretty dark outside, and the light posts around the parking lot were not working. I was ready to drive home, hit the sack, and prepare myself for more annoying comments from my male coworkers. I knew I would be getting some heat from them when they found out my sister didn't find her dress. 

My stepmom, sister, her friend, and I started to get in our cars. I was already in mine and had it started when I noticed that my sister and her friend were not in their cars. I raised my neck to try and get a better view of what they were doing. They were talking to each other and my stepmother while looking at something that was near my sister's friend's car. My mom hadn't left yet but was inside her car looking at what they were looking at too. I turned off my car, got out, and went over to where my sister was standing.

My sister seemed frantic. 

"There's a body over by her car," she said. "Something is really wrong. He isn't moving." 

I moved over to my sister's friend's car and saw someone lying on his back with one foot turned inward, his shoe off and his arms spread open. My sister was right. He was not moving. 

My first thought was to look around and see if anyone was watching or nearby. I didn't notice any other cars in the lot but ours and didn't see anything suspicious. My mother shined her headlights on the body, but he didn't budge. My stepmom called 911.

We stood off to the side of the parking lot waiting for the police to arrive. About 10 minutes later, one police car pulled into the lot. Then an ambulance, fire truck, and more police cars arrived. Immediately, they began to mark off most of the parking lot with crime tape. 

I wondered how in the world this could have happened and if it was one of my stepmom's students. We discovered about 40 minutes later that the body was not a student's but was, in fact, dead. The scene before us was filled with EMTs, detectives, police officers, and firefighters surrounding the body and scoping out the area. What had been a quiet, unlit parking lot was now a loud and chaotic one.

An officer asked us to write out witness statements describing what we had seen. I had never done that before. I had never seen a dead body lying around before either. After we wrote out our witness statements, we were free to go home.

The next day, I wasn't looking forward to going into work. After telling my story, instead of hearing more sarcastic comments about wedding dress shopping from my male coworkers, I heard,  "I've never seen a dead body before! That's so cool!"

If only they knew.

I found out later that day that the man had overdosed and his roommate saw that he was unresponsive and dumped him in the high school parking lot. I'm not sure why his roommate didn't call 911 after dumping his body or take him to a hospital.

I don't understand lots of things in this world. Like why there are lavender wedding dresses and why someone dumps his roommate's body in a parking lot. The latter makes my heart sick. No one is ever prepared to see something like that. It made me grateful for sharing times with my family, like seeing ridiculous wedding dresses and taking little road trips with them. So many times I complain about little things, but being with the ones you love and who truly care about you are the most important. The experience even made me want to be nice to my coworkers, even though they get on my nerves. It made me want to show kindness to those I may dislike at times and to make light of situations that can be annoying.

Don't get me wrong — I do have days when I want to lash out at a coworker or complain about traffic. But this situation changed my perspective, making me want to leave the world a little better than I did the day before.