As with “I’m sorry,” it’s never too late to say “Thank you.” That’s why ex-policeman Larry Frederick, who nearly 36 years ago lay gruesomely injured and freely bleeding alongside a freeway, reserved a large table Monday at a Santa Rosa restaurant.
Frederick has no doubt he’d have died after a Ford LTD going 65 mph struck him down in August 1982 had a number of people not done precisely what they did for him, precisely when they did it. “A series of small miracles saved his life,” Frederick’s wife, Gail, said from alongside him at the table at Stark’s Steakhouse & Seafood.
Her husband the former Oakland police officer asked several of his miracle-workers to allow him to thank them by treating them to a long overdue lunch.
ONLY TWO were able to make it, Jim Fazackerley and Steve Stuart, the former Allied Ambulance emergency medical technicians who monitored the hit-and-run crash on Oakland’s Nimitz Freeway on a police-fire radio scanner and were at Frederick’s side within about two minutes.
“I won’t ever forget that call or the remarkable recovery you made,” Fazackerley, now a paramedic instructor living in west Marin County, told Frederick Monday. Fazackerley and former ambulance partner Stuart, today a retired Napa firefighter/paramedic, hadn’t seen Frederick since they tended to him on the shoulder and then on a wild ride to Oakland’s Highland Hospital.
At Monday’s lunch, Frederick hugged the former ambulance medics and shared recollections of the day with them. He spoke also with two other of his heroes through his cellphone’s external speaker.
Vigorous and grateful and almost always in pain at 68, Frederick has for decades focused on giving back to the blood bank system that provided him 54 pints of donated blood on just his first day in the hospital. He has done remarkable, nationally significant things to promote blood donation.
But it dawned on him recently he had not thanked the people whose quick actions that night in Oakland in 1982 kept him alive. Nodding toward former EMTs Fazackerley and Stuart, he said, “These guys got skipped over for 35 years.”
The restaurant in Santa Rosa’s West End might not have been big enough to accommodate all of the people Frederick would like to thank. He reached out to some key ones, including the fellow who rode with him on patrol as a civilian that night and reacted perfectly when the hit-and-run occurred.
Frederick, who prior to becoming a police officer served as a Marine in Vietnam, recalls that he was near the end of his shift and he and his ride-along, Doug Rheinhardt, were driving toward downtown Oakland on the Nimitz, near the Fifth Avenue exit. It was about 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 21, 1982, a Saturday.
A CAR SPED PAST the patrol car and civilian Rheinhardt asked Officer Frederick, “You going to let him get away with that?” Frederick replied that he would pull the driver over and warn him about speeding.
He made the stop. Both cars were parked front-to-back on the shoulder and Frederick was standing beside the speeding driver’s door when it happened.
Aware that a car was headed directly at him, Frederick jumped.