The Other Great Chase

One thing I found notable about Last Wednesday’s carjacking and subsequent 75 mile high-speed chase along the Colorado Front Range area, was a comment made by one of the lawmen asked to opine on the event. That lawman observed, to paraphrase, “…things like this just don’t happen here.”

The story, of course, is that Ryan Cole Stone, a 28-year-old with an eleven page rap sheet, hopped in a van with a 4-year-old inside, stole the car and commenced a frantic hour-long, 100 mph mindless skedaddle from the cops, carjacking two additional vehicles, and injuring a Colorado State Patrolman who was throwing out spike strips. The story gained national attention, so I don’t have to go into detail.

Back to what that lawman had to say about the event. Well, at least once that I’m aware of, things like this did happen here; on January 29, 1968.

My father, who was Chief of the Denver Police Department at the time, recounted the events of that bygone day in this way:

The Great Chase_4“One of the damndest, bizarre incidences during my time as chief came on January 29, 1968. I was in Berkeley, California attending a conference and Stan Cayou, the Division Chief of Patrol at the time, called me at my hotel and said there was a hostage situation going on that was the result of a failed stickup at the King Soopers grocery store that used to be at 33rd and Dahlia in northeast Denver.

“What happened was that two black males, Daniel Williams, who was also known as Charles Lovelace, and his roommate, Louis Maple, who also had an alias, Charles Davis, entered the store shortly after it opened that morning and herded the employees into the basement at gunpoint. When the manager entered the store at about 8 a.m., he thought it was strange that none of his employees were in sight. So, he headed for the back of the store to see what the hell was going on. As he walked by the meat department, the meat manager came out of the door with some guy holding a gun to his back. The gunman takes the manager and the meat manager downstairs where the other gunman is holding about thirteen people at bay. One of the gunmen then marches the manager back upstairs and demands that he open the safe which, of course, couldn’t be done because it was on a time lock. And, what the gunmen didn’t know was that when they first entered the store one of the employees had sneaked off and wrote a note that a robbery was going on and that police should be called, and held it up to the front window where two young girls saw it and they immediately called the police at a pay phone. So, the cavalry was already on its way.

“When the manager and the gunman were discussing the time lock, a cop entered the store, ordered the gunman to freeze, and the manager just grabbed the gun and handed it to the officer. The gunman downstairs heard the commotion upstairs, and thought something was wrong. So, he gathered all the employees around him and ordered them to go back upstairs. In the meantime, another cop, Sergeant Larry Morahan, The Great Chase_5had entered the store and was beginning to make his way downstairs. When he got to the bottom of the stairs, the gunman surprised him and took his weapon. The gunman then demanded that Morahan get in the group of employees, who were surrounding the gunman as they all made their way back up the stairs.

“The gunman, Williams, then took three of the store employees, and Morahan, and got in Morahan’s cruiser where they headed for I70, as Morahan yelled into the police radio that all cars should drop back or the sonofabitch was going to shoot them. At about 6th Avenue and I25, Williams ordered Morahan to stop the cruiser, and demanded that everybody get out of the cruiser. At gunpoint, Williams stopped a civilian vehicle, and he ordered everybody to get in that car.  Williams told the driver to stop the car once they got to Speer and Logan, where he told Morahan to flag down a van. Morahan did that, and the van happened to belong to Colorado General Hospital, and was occupied by the driver and a two-year-old boy who was being transported to the hospital for therapy treatments for a paralyzing birth defect. Williams let the driver of the car he hijacked go, but ordered everyone else to get into the van, and told the driver to head up Colorado 83 toward Colorado Springs.

The Great Chase_3“About fifteen miles north of the Air Force Academy, one of the hostages tired to overpower Williams. Morahan joined in and the scuffle resulted in two of the hostages getting shot. One of the hostages was bleeding badly. Morahan then began pleading with Williams to stop, telling him that the hostage was going to die if he didn’t get medical attention. So, after about eight miles, Williams did order the van to stop, and he let the wounded hostage out of the van.

“Well, by this time every police agency in Colorado was alerted to the hostage situation, and there was a goddamned hundred car caravan of police and highway patrol vehicles following the van. Even John Love, the governor of Colorado, was there…chauffeured in in his black Cadillac, with a .38 on the seat next to him. Christ, it was estimated that over 300 police officers were involved in the incident with about 100 vehicles in the caravan. There were sheriffs and highway patrol officers posing as gas station attendants along the route in the hope that the van would run out of gas. Other gas stations along the route had been closed down by local law enforcement. Three helicopters were involved in the chase.The Great Chase_6The Great Chase_7

“East of Punkin Center the van turned onto a county road and headed to Hugo, where Williams let the little boy out. A helicopter picked the boy up, and flew him back to Denver. It seems that Williams had some notion about wanting to go to Kansas. But, being unfamiliar with Colorado–he was from back east, New York, I believe–he ordered the van to proceed north, back to Denver.

“Finally, the van pulled to a stop; it had run out of gas on East Colfax. Williams gave his gun and Morahan’s service revolver to Morahan and it was all over. Just like that. Seven hours and two-hundred and fifty miles.

“The hero in all this was Morahan who, during the entire seven hours, kept at Williams to give it up; that he didn’t have a change in hell of getting out it with his life. Larry Morahan was a good cop, a good family man. Christ, he had eight or nine kids. And, you think about what could have happened and all you can do is thank God that it came out the way it did.

“What a goddamned circus it was…”

So, contrary to what that lawman of just a few days ago believes, these things do happen here. Or, at least it did happen about 46 years ago…


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A Letter to Sarah

A Letter to Sarah

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe walked about the house in silence, dear heart, looking for you in the rooms you loved to settle in. We looked out the window expecting to see you there, in the yard outside. And our impulse was to walk to another window to get a better view of your secret garden, where you could not be seen unless you desired to be, and only then your presence confirmed by a patch of black or white behind the greenery, or the amber of your eyes warily watching us for signs that perhaps a walkie was imminent.

It all felt so empty then, my darling, because you were no longer there. We never questioned the inevitability of your absence, but so too we never thought the day would come when you wouldn’t be there. We were a family. You were our child. You were the center of our lives.

Oh, and those paths we walked every day with you by our sides. No, that isn’t the way it was at all. You always led, and we trailed behind. It was your walkie, your adventure. We were just there as spectators as you explored the daily news left by your friends and adversaries. It was our job to hold you back when an interloper crossed your path because you were the queen of the world, the sovereign of your realm. You worked hard for your title.

We knew this about you. You were a native Alaskan Malamute, raised by a military family in that spectacular place that David and I have only seen in pictures, and on TV. That family had to give you up, and you found a new home with another military family with whom you moved toColorado Springs. When the father of that family was deployed to Iraq, the mother could no longer care for you and her infant, and you were given to the Polaris Alaskan Malamute Rescue group in Golden, Colorado. All of this during the first six years of your life. And, oh, Sarah, I do not doubt for a moment that you were as dearly loved by those families as you were by us.

 Sarah_Rainbow Bridge-3

When we let our Sweet Melissa go—you never knew her, but she was another indomitable Malamute whom we raised from a puppy, and said good-bye to when she was fourteen—the certainty that our lives would not be complete without another child, another Malamute to share our days with, we found you, Sarah, awaiting a forever home. We never considered that nothing in life is truly forever.

And the rest, as they say, is history. For seven years, you centered us. For seven years, our little family trudged the things that families do believing that nothing much that life could throw at us would matter because we were together, always, day after day, our routines from one moment to the next performed with the love we shared for one another. We never thought much about the inevitability of the ends of things.

I’ve waited to write this, Sarah, thinking that my sorrow would be eased somehow by time; that my sight would not blur from tears if only I waited long enough to write to you. I was wrong, dear heart.


This spring David and I will plant a tree or perhaps a flowering bush in your yard, and place at the bottom of it the paltry leavings of your mortal body. We will do this only because it seems right—a gesture to your memory. Please know, though, that our memories of you, the precious things that reside in our hearts are visited each time we take a breath, each time we see the places you used to be, each time we affirm that someday we will be together again. We loved you then, and ever shall.

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Here’s What’s Wrong with American Health Care, or a wee example of it…

…or how $620.00 became $3,479.00.

I have psoriasis. This immune-mediated disease doesn’t kill or maim, but–to varying degrees (I’m at 5% of total skin surface)–spots one’s body with red scaly patches. No one knows for sure why this disease erupts, but it is known, for whatever reason, that the body’s immune system causes hyper-growth of skin cells–the spots–that are chronic and irritating. An additional treat for those who suffer this condition is a denudement of self-esteem. Most sufferers avoid swimsuits, or other clothing that doesn’t cover the delightful evidence that they are affected with the disease. Indeed, the sufferer is usually aware that if the telltale signs of the disease are seen by, oh, mothers of small children, those mothers might gather up their wards quickly for fear whatever malady that affects the sufferer is contagious.

Treatment for psoriasis usually consists of applying topical steroids to the spots, UV light treatments, or a pill that may control the symptoms but isn’t particularly friendly to one’s liver.

I have, over the past thirty years, used copious amounts of topical steroids and, off and on, undergone light treatments. Most recently, I completed a series of  UVB light treatments at Kaiser. The protocol is to stand in the UVB machine, much like a tanning bed, and through a series of visits the length of time within the machine is increased to a pre-determined maximum level. At the end of the protocol, the psoriasis patches are barely visible, but not gone. When the patches begin to appear again, it is time to restart the protocol.

Suffice it to say, the light treatments at Kaiser worked. The dermatology staff was great. And, the cost was, well, expensive: $30 copay for each visit.

Knowing that I will never be fully rid of psoriasis, I inquired about UVB devices for home use…something that I have been aware of for quite some time. With the cost of the in-office visits, I decided I could probably just zap myself at home rather than spend the time and money to go to Kaiser.

I inquired of my dermatologist which UVB devices Kaiser recommends, and I was given a stack of literature for the Daavlin Company. My dermatologist emphasized that Kaiser does not endorse the Daavlin products, and that there were other manufacturers out there that would work, as well. Given the relatively small skin surface, 5%, where my psoriasis persisted, I studied the Daavlin material, went to their web site and found the DermaPal device that I thought would be just perfect for my needs.

Through a series of text messages (the Daavlin site provided online “chat”) I inquired about the DermaPal, and how I could initiate a purchase. I also asked about the cost of the unit and was told it sold for $620.00. I knew my Kaiser policy required a 20% copay, and I could certainly handle that. So, I faxed off my insurance data, a prescription letter from my doctor, and the ball began to roll for the purchase.

I was soon told that unfortunately a contract between Kaiser and Daavlin had not yet been finalized, but that Apria Healthcare did have a contract with Kaiser, and I could purchase the DermaPal through Apria with the understanding I would still have the 20% copay. I asked the Daavlin representative what the markup by Apria would be, and she said she didn’t know. I was given the alternative of waiting a while until Daavlin and Kaiser finalized their contract. But, as I told the Daavlin representative, psoriasis does have a habit of blooming if not treated, and mine was already starting to reappear with a vengeance. So, I decided to go ahead with a purchase through Apria.

As an aside, the folks at Daavlin were wonderful, very helpful and genuinely concerned with my issues. Their product, the DermPal, is great and I would recommend this company to anyone who is trying to control their psoriasis at home.

It wasn’t a week after I and Apria formalized my purchase, that a nice man knocked on my door, my DermaPal in hand. I singed the paperwork he produced, thanked him, and took my box inside and opened it up. And there it was–my new DermaPal. I then looked at the paperwork I’d been given and Whoa! the cost had risen to $942.00, with tax. I quickly did the 20% calculation, and knew that was doable. I did, however, shake my head a bit with the realization that the cost of the device had increased by $322.00. “Middlemen,” I said, knowing that the third-party (Apria) involvement in the transaction had come at a significant cost. But, hey: That’s the American way! Right?

I used my DermaPal for several weeks and it worked fine, albeit not as efficiently as the great big machine at Kaiser, which is understanble. But, what the hell, I do it at home, there’s no travel time, there’s no $30 copay every time I got to Kaiser. So, I was–as they say–fat and happy, with just an occasional thought given to the fact that I had yet to receive Kaiser’s billing for my 20% copay.

I got the statement from Kaiser yesterday. Apria billed Kaiser: $3,479.00. Kaiser paid: $1,635.13. My copay: $327.03.

The percentage of difference between the original quoted price from Daavlin ($620), and what Apria billed Kaiser ($3,479) is 461%.

If my math is correct, the percentage of difference between the original quoted price of the unit ($620) from Daavlin, compared to what Apria’s invoice to me showed ($914) is 52%.

The percentage of difference between the original quoted price from Daavlin ($620), and what Kaiser paid to Apria ($1635) is 164%

The percentage of difference between what my copay would have been on the original quote ($124), compared to what it is now ($327) is 164%.

The most starkly disturbing thing about this is, I suppose, the impact this sleight-of-hand manipulation of our healthcare system has on you and me. The cost of healthcare in this country is abominable, and it’s things like what I’ve described above that grate as fingernails across a blackboard. What the hell is going on? Why does it persist? Healthcare insurers have got to know about this travesty. Don’t they? Or, is every entity involved in providing healthcare services in this country in on the deal–smiling slyly at one another with the knowledge that ultimately the consumer will pay, whatever the cost? And with what I’ve chronicled, the consumer–me–gets hit twice: premiums keep rising, and copays increase by, yes, 164% simply because a middleman stepped into the picture.

Something isn’t right about this, buckaroos. In fact, it stinks.

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