The torment of watching a man die
Vail, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A man died in Charles King’s arms Monday night. He never met the man and doesn’t know his name, but King knew he had to help.
“People were just standing around. This guy needed help,” King says.
In a dark patch amongst the Ponderosa Cabins in west Glenwood Springs Monday night, the man had just been shot three times in the torso. King never saw the gunman, just a man on the ground with a group of people surrounding him.
“He kept calling for his uncle in Spanish,” King says.
The gunshots jerked him out of his bed at the Ponderosa Cabins shortly before 10 p.m. A Latino dialed 911 and handed him the phone. The person on the other end of the phone told King how to do CPR, which he’d never done before.
“He was bleeding out of his stomach. I was doing all I could to save his life.” King’s voice goes silent for a moment. “He died in my arms, man. He died with me trying to save him.”
Once King started talking to the 911 operator, the crowd scattered, leaving him alone with a dying man. He has a difficult time understanding why no one else stepped forward to help.
“No one would approach him to see if he was OK.”
But King finds solace in his effort.
“I was able to be there. Even being a complete stranger, he didn’t have to die alone. It does hurt my heart, it hurts to see a life slip away,” King says. “It’s very sad, I tried my best. It really kills your spirit, but nobody would help this guy.”
King grew up on the mean streets of Philadelphia. He’s heard gunshots before, but says he never thought he’d hear them again when he moved to Glenwood Springs.
“I was just a kid who grew up in all the wrong places,” King says, bluntly. “I came from a rough life. But I’m a different person now.”
Today, King is focused on making his life better. He’s working and working hard to keep the rough life pushed to the back of his memories. When King ” a soft-spoken massive man at 6-foot-3, 298 pounds ” talks about his past it sounds like it’s coming from a man much older.
He knows what it’s like to be the one who needs help. “My best friend saved my life when he called 911. Someone tried to chop my arm off in Denver. I could have bled to death,” he says.
Like so many people who move here, King’s fondness for Glenwood was immediate. But when someone dies in your arms, the good things are easily forgotten.
“I moved here to get away from stuff like that; then it happened right outside my door.”
King isn’t about to give up on Glenwood. He moved here in July 2006 and says it feels like home.
“I believe this is a nice place to live. There are good people here, and people really do care,” he says.
King says he’s not ready to go back to the Ponderosa Cabins just yet. There are a lot of problems, and he says there will be more gunshots if they’re not fixed. King also says he sees drug deals occur on a regular basis.
He’s pretty blunt when he talks about the place where he lives.
“(Glenwood) is a nice place, but that (Ponderosa) isn’t a nice place. If they don’t fix the problems, I will move. It’s not safe,” he says.
King says that the fatal shooting better get people’s attention. The problems are numerous, he adds. Housing costs, understaffed police, drugs, immigration, big-city problems creeping into a mountain town.
“This better be a wake-up call. If it’s not, this is going to happen more and more. It’s not going to stop,” he says, his voice getting stronger.
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