Not the most neighborly of sentiments
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:37 PM
"A helicopter thupped low overhead, uniformed officers and dogs tramped about in the underbrush, goodness knows what lights and radios added their glare and din - all in the dead of night.It's no wonder many folks were alarmed.Such was the scene late Wednesday and early Thursday, as police, sheriff's deputies, Coast Guard personnel and local search-and-rescue volunteers mobilized to locate an elderly Euclid Avenue resident, missing from his home on a frigid February night. Fifty people took part in the search, which went on nearly til dawn and resumed later in the morning.Most obtrusive was certainly King County's Guardian One helicopter, which flew low over the north-end neighborhood with infrared and heat-sensing equipment to add a hi-tech dimension to the search. We have no doubt it was loud, and coming as it did after dark, somewhat frightening. With all the hubbub, a number of concerned residents called 911 for information:What's going on?Are they pursuing a fugitive, someone dangerous?Should I lock my doors?Fair questions all. But search crews greeted with dismay - and other, less sanguine feelings - the call from one woman who was angry about the noise and who demanded to speak to a supervisor. When an officer explained that they were searching for an elderly man who'd gone missing, the woman reportedly said:I don't care! My sleep is more important!Well. Time was when the whole neighborhood might have turned out to help find one of its own, though we recognize times change. But it's hard not to be chagrined when we can't accept as right and good - despite the disturbance we might have to endure for a few hours - the search for a missing neighbor, particularly one of advancing years and unlikely to withstand a night in the cold. It's doubly sad when those services come gratis. For the record, authorities said, King County's Guardian One helicopter was in the air at no cost, even though the agency usually bills its services at $400 per hour. The search and rescue crew - a cadre of about 30 people who train to deal with all manner of emergencies - are volunteers. All turned out for the simple notion that the life of a 92-year-old man was worth saving.Tragically, the story didn't end as we might have hoped. Robert Rockwell's life ended in a thicket outside his home, his body discovered the next afternoon. Will we remember the evening for the efforts of many, or for that one sour epitaph:I don't care! My sleep is more important!Sheesh.Maybe anyone who feels likewise should call 911 today and have your name put on a list. Then if you go missing, we're sure they'll be happy to put off looking for you until the next morning. "