COLUMN: A crime scene in Summerland

At Peach Orchard Park, a scene was developing. At the scene, a fire truck and ambulance were set up

Our first days living in Summerland, we were renovating our Lowertown home.

Needing supplies, we decided to go to Timbermart.

Our route took us onto Lakeshore Drive heading North. At Rotary Beach a low altitude Police helicopter flew overhead also heading north. My first though, “oh no, I hope there isn’t an accident.”

At Peach Orchard Park, a scene was developing. At the crime scene, a fire truck and ambulance were set up. There was a canopy with a crowd gathering.

Obviously, authorities were gathering information from the crowd regarding the heinous crime.

I could see a large tarp under one of the willows. On that tarp was a long extension ladder leaning against the tree. Under the tarp was a form of a body.

I had swallowed my heart. The poor victim, I thought to myself. What was he or she thinking just before their life was taken from them? What happened? Why would anyone take another person’s life? How safe is this community?

We did our shopping and headed home the same route. At Peach Orchard Park, the crowd was much larger at the tent. The investigators were continuing to gather information.

The crowd was instructed to move to another tent to provide fingerprints.

The police helicopter had landed, and a few more emergency personnel and vehicles showed up.

I could feel the panic rise in our car.

Jim recalled he had heard a loud intoxicated group walk pass our home late the night before. They were walking from the highway toward Okanagan Lake on the Centennial Trail. They had thrown their empty beer cans in our yard.

Perhaps, we thought, these offenders were the ones that committed this senseless act. In fact, we were sure of it. And we have the evidence to prove it. We could help solve this crime before anyone else is hurt.

Jim gathered the evidence, the beer cans with the suspects fingerprints. We went to Peach Orchard Park. Jim approached the first officer he spotted. We offered him the key piece of evidence.

The officer kindly asked us to keep the evidence and listen to the radio or TV, so that if we hear of any incidents to please contact the detachment.

I was shocked by the officer’s casual behaviour. Maybe, he did not hear us correctly. Jim calmly asked “well, isn’t this the crime scene?”

A smile spread across the officer’s face and he chuckled. “No” he said, “this is a charity fundraiser.”

What!

But the evidence clearly pointed to a crime scene. The officer slowly scanned the scene. He turned to us and said, “I can see how you can mix that up, it kind of looks like a crime scene.” How could we have misread the evidence? What was it that lead me to perceive the worst scenario possible?

Fear did it again. Fear warped how we perceived the evidence. Fear made me believe, a tent was set up gather information and fingerprints when it was really a tent set up to sell hotdogs. Fear made me believe, signage being placed high on the trunk of a tree was a hanged body. Fear made me believe, emergency personnel were investigating a crime scene instead of entertaining families at a charity picnic.

What was I so afraid of?

I was so frightened I had made a mistake moving to Summerland. I did not know the community and felt out of place. I was so afraid I would become the next victim. I was so afraid that we felt compelled to stop these criminals.

I have thought about that day often. Today, I am not afraid of much.

I believe that day taught me to have an open mind and not see things through the eyes of fear. If fear can turn a charity event into a crime scene then is it possible, the opposite of fear, curiosity, or trust, or courage, or calmness, could turn a crime scene into a charity picnic?

Without fear, what are the possibilities?

Mirjana Komljenovic is a Summerland resident.

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