To Anyone Who Has Ever Loved Someone More Than Life:
Nikki Hendricks and Emily Milazzo drowned last April 28, 1999. Emily's car had slipped off a sharp, rain-slicked curve in rural Franklin County, Missouri and landed upside down in a drainage creek swollen with Meramec River backwater.
The accident generated a lot of emotions and debate in Pacific and nearby Gray Summit, Missouri where both girls lived. Long time residents wondered why county officials had done nothing to help prevent repeated (50 or more) crashes in the creek each year.
Although it has been over one year there are still unanswered questions about the crash and the actions of Pacific Fire Chief Rick Friedmann. Friedmann supposedly arrived on the scene within nine minutes of the 911 call but refused to send rescuers into the water to find out if anyone was trapped inside the vehicle. About 50 minutes after the accident, 23 firefighters looked on as Nikki's body fell from the vehicle as it was being pulled from the creek. Only then did one of the rescuers jump into the water to retrieve the body. Their official statement, one of the few they have given since the accident, was that the water was too dangerous, even though it was a calm creek with no current. What conditions had changed in that lapse of time to make it less dangerous that they could jump in some 50 minutes later but not upon their initial arrival at the scene? We can't figure it out, neither can the witnesses.
Chief Friedmann did give a statement regretting only that (under) the circumstances, proper procedures were not enough to avoid the most terrible tragedy suffered by these two young women. What procedures is he talking about? Their lawyer told us in a written letter that they had no standard operating procedures.
Emily's parents, Jody and Jim Milazzo, say county officials and Friedmann failed the girls. The Hendricks want them to admit that they stood by (all 23 of them) and watched the two girls die.
One witness, Helene White, says she screamed that somebody's got to be in the car. She said she saw Chief Friedmann just standing there with his arms crossed. He made no effort to rescue them. At 5:38 p.m. Cpl. G.J. Rousset of the Missouri Highway Patrol arrived. Rousset had seen many cars in that same creek. On this day, Rousset saw 23 firefighters awaiting the boat that
Friedmann had ordered.
Rousset said in an interview that he was puzzled why no one went into the water-- especially when one firefighter was wearing a wet suit. He made a comment that if you're going to don a wet suit, well, let's go ahead and send you on in.
The boat arrived a little after 6:00 p.m. at which time the fire department hooked a winch up to pull the vehicle from the water. It was at this time Nikki's body was discovered and Emily's body a short time later. According to their report paramedics tried to revive both girls. Both girls had drown, their only injuries being small superficial cuts.
They had the right to be rescued no matter how slim their chances of survival. It was a blatant error on the fire departments behalf to assume no one was in the vehicle. A vehicle that had it's windows rolled up and doors still closed. If anyone could have made it out of the vehicle it is doubtful
they would have taken the time to close the door.
The emergency room doctor told me my daughter had been under the water too long. He said if they could have gotten to them sooner with the water being as cold as it was they might have stood a chance. They couldn't even identify our daughter because they had stolen her wallet and her money. We did find the wallet several days later where it was thrown back down into the ditch.
The money compartment was still zipped but there was no money inside. I gave her $35.00 before she left the house to get her nails done for the prom. Please don't think this is an isolated event. I had a boss, Bob Hutton, that lost his son and the fire department stripped his body of all his personal belongings of value including his wedding ring. They lived out of state, as
he was transferred, but his other children live here and his sister went to the station and demanded her brother's belongings or she would report them. At this time they were returned.
Then there is Jeanette Stolle, a real estate broker for Gundaker, who lost her son 10 years ago. She tells me that Town and Country and Des Peres district responded to the accident. The girl with him survived and she told Jeanette that she sat there and watched them argue over jurisdiction for 25
minutes while her son bled to death. Then she watched them go through his wallet and steal all the money from a payroll check he had cashed just minutes before.
I also have another friend who is a dedicated rescuer from North Carolina. His name is John Jop. He has been trying to get the truth out for many years now but people don't want to hear anything bad about firefighters. Why? You depend on these people in the most vulnerable times of your life. Why don't you want to hear about what really goes on behind the scenes? Why do they go
to such lengths to keep the truth hidden? It's time to stop and listen. Sooner or later every single person on this earth will need one of these individuals to either treat them or transport them for treatment for either an accident or an illness. Your life, or the life of your precious loved one could depend upon what you know and don't know. Don't wait until it's too late. LISTEN FOR GOD'S SAKE AND TAKE ACTION.
Suspicions were aroused when my husband and I went to the fire station the morning after the accident to inquire about our daughter's last moments on earth. We were confronted by Chief Friedmann and two other men who would only answer, "WHAT ACCIDENT." At that time we asked for a copy of the accident
report and placed an ad in the paper for witnesses. Only after speaking to witnesses did we learn that Chief Friedmann refused to send anyone into the water and that Chief Jim Casey concurred with him, even though he was not at the scene. We requested district records under Missouri Open Records law, which requires the district to respond within 72 hours. It has been nearly 17
months now and we are still waiting for records. It took us over 4 months to receive a copy of the accident report.
Any attempts to retrieve any information in person was met with rude, threatening remarks and the threat of being arrested. Chief Friedmann did issue a memo to the staff under the direction of the Board Chief, Edwin come on district property and refuse to leave. I have to wonder what these people are trying so desperately to hide. What are they afraid of? Who do they think paid for the building they call district property? Why are they denying taxpayers access to their records?
We attempted to attend a fire board meeting on September 9, 1999, where we asked the district why they are not trained in vehicle extrication and water rescue since we are and have been a community surrounded by the Meramec River. A river that constantly floods. They refused to answer. They just sat
silently until they asked a 911 dispatcher, later identified as Kim OMara, if she wished to speak. At this time she stood and thanked the district for it's bravery. It's then that my husband asked her if she was married to a firefighter. She answered no, she had no affiliation with the fire dept at all.
Since this time we have been followed, harassed, and stalked. We couldn't even visit our daughter's gravesite without being followed or having the Pacific Police show up. We hired a private investigator to find out who was following us and to run plates and we also filed a police report. We were told by Police Chief Reed that we just drove around town writing down license
numbers. I wish we would have thought of that sooner we could have saved ourselves a lot of money and not had to pay the investigator. Sometimes we would get fed up and follow the people who were following us all the while taking pictures and videos. Some of these people ended up at Kim OMara's house. Things started to make a little more sense now, especially when we found out she was real good friends with Police Chief Reed. Another bereaved parent we met at the cemetery, Mr. Hermann, also told us he thought they were watching him and he even followed some of them. He said he knows now that they were watching us, not him.
We were arrested on December 23, 1999 for sending Ms. OMara a Christmas card telling her how the two girls died and telling her we hoped should something ever happen to one of her children that someone wasn't insensitive enough to show up at a board meeting making noises every time a question was asked that she didn't like. She made the deaths of the two girls into one big joke. They all have made their deaths into one big joke. Let me tell you burying my daughter was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life and to me it was no joke. She was my life and she and Emily were great kids and they DID NOT DESERVE TO DIE LIKE A DOG IN A DITCH WITH 23 FIREFIGHTERS WATCHING AND
We received a call on Mother's Day of this year from a gas station in town where it just so happens all the firefighters hang out. They left a message on the phone that said something to the effect that if I had been a better mother I wouldn't have had to bury my daughter.
This is the mentality of the people we are dealing without here. Numerous law suits have been filed against the City of Pacific and it's police chief stemming from voter fraud, civil rights violation, stealing, etc, etc, etc. continue to allow a person like this to represent their town? He is costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
Since hiring the detective we have found and interviewed many witnesses who are scared but did tell us about extortion, burglaries from police after silent alarms go off, sex with prisoners, theft of drugs from evidence rooms, faked suicides, and the list goes on and on. Citizens are afraid for their
families and they can't afford lawyers for bogus charges that the police could file against them. They also can't afford a traffic ticket every time they leave their residence. This is how they keep people in line and keep them quiet. One business owner video taped the police harassing his customers and blocking off the road when it was closing time, all because he refused to pay the amount of money requested each month. Do county officials know what's going on? Of course, they do. Local newspapers have been hushed with the threat of getting local businesses to pull their ads.
My husband had an accident on August 22 on Hwy. N. Pacific Fire Department responded to the accident. When they arrived and saw who was involved they turned around and left. The highway patrolman was wondering who was going to clean the mess left in the middle of the road, which consisted of antifreeze, gasoline, and oil, along with broken glass and bumpers. Is this what you call dedication? Do you think they were worried about another vehicle coming along and running into this mess? Doesn't look like it to me.
On December 19, I picked up my gun permit and purchased a 357 magnum for my own protection and that of my family. After an article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on April 27, 2000 Police Chief Reed, of Pacific, states that an anonymous call came in on his private line from the high school, ( I had to wonder how many high school girls have his private number) at which time a
young girl told him I had purchased a gun and had threatened to shot the fire chief and then myself. He reported this to Sheriff Toelke, who in turn put my picture in each of his squad cars.
Only after a vehicle accident in which Craig Bessinger, a local tow truck driver and owner, informed me that he saw my picture in the squad car did I call Sheriff Toelke and inquire as to why he was displaying my picture in his cars. It was at this time he told me what had transpired between him and Chief Reed. He admitted that Chief Reed probably pulled a fast one on him and
that he was the one left to take the heat. Once again Chief Reed gets someone else to take the fall, but my picture was removed and we did contact the FBI at Sheriff Toelke's suggestion. Since that time the stalkings have ceased for the most part but we're just waiting because we know it's only a matter of time before they start again.
We would love to be able to grieve our daughter in private as most families do but because of the deception, lies, and manipulation have been unable to do so with dignity. The grief of losing the daughter we have waited so long for on top of all the other unnecessary "harassment, threats, attempted
intimidations" have taken it's toll on our family and our health.
The bottom line and the only thing that matters is that two young, beautiful, honor students are dead at the age of 17 because of 23 cowardly, untrained firefighters and a county that refuses to take responsibility for it's actions. After 50 accidents in one year, in one particular spot you would
think a red flag would go up wouldn't you? When is it going to stop? When are people going to stand up and say they have had enough? Is it only going to be when they have to suffer the devastating loss of a child to a senseless accident that could have been avoided in the first place had a $2,000 guardrail been installed back in 1989 when the road was reconstructed.
Only someone who has lost a child can understand what we have gone through this past year. The rest of this heartache was caused because we refused to keep quiet about the nconsistencies surrounding the event and the lies and corruption that has followed. We are totally dedicated to our family and will
continue to protect our daughter and her memory and that of her best friend Emily. We will not stop until the truth is told and people understand the danger they face when they put too much faith into a faithless department.
Please don't wait until it's too late. I would hate to see anyone suffer as we have suffered this past year.
Dan and Bev Hendricks