When Dara wasn’t home by dark, Marsha called the police but the operator’s accent was too thick for her stressed mind to grasp. She had the house staff talk and interpret for her.
The farmer on whose land the SKA compound was built, arrived to assist; he proved invaluable, immediately dispatching anyone who could drive or ride a farm bike to fan out into the mountains where Dara was known to normally wander. Calls came in and false leads were followed, the entire hunt dogged by limited radio communications imposed on the area.
The ordeal became immensely frustrating, with most of the communications in Afrikaans, laboriously translated into English.
Finally, near midnight, the news of a bike accident from an unexpected quadrant came in. A farmer on his way home saw the motorbike and broken body lying to the side of the rarely used road.
He reported the find as soon as he reached mobile coverage near the national road. Since ambulances in the area were a rare luxury, he loaded the kid into the back of his pickup and sped for Carnarvon.
By the time Marsha arrived at the small clinic to identify him they’d cleaned Dara up and were conducting emergency procedures. He was delirious but breathing on his own.
“He’s in bad shape but very lucky,” the doctor told her gravely. “Three broken ribs. It looks like a crushed thoracic vertebra and a hairline in a cervical one—we’ll have to confirm that with MRI. Two weeks ago we’d have been in a world of trouble… this facility didn’t even exist then.”
Marsha was relieved. The new clinic and its doctor had only just arrived, part of the social expenditure by the SKA investment group and other donors.
“He’s our first serious case,” the doctor told her. Their respective accents making it clear that both were newcomers to the area.
“Thank you,” she said. She was shaking uncontrollably, “What happened?”
“Seems like he lost control... He’s pretty beaten up, must have been going like the devil was after him… there are lesser problems; his elbow's dislocated, knee’s ripped wide open… arm broken. I’m sincerely hoping we don’t have internal injuries. He’s certainly concussed—good thing he had a quality helmet.”
Marsha was suddenly furious. “What the hell was he doing off the farm and acting like a maniac?” she thought, “It’s so unlike him,” she said, “He’s a cautious boy.”
“He’s what? Sixteen? Seventeen…” the Doctor tried to soften it. “They’re all like this; think they’re bullet proof. It’s a wonder boys ever make it to twenty.”
“But it’s so unlike him…” She kept saying.
“Mothers always think that,” the doctor shrugged at the thought, “their kids never make bad calls.” He gave her a moment, “His father here too? Or are you guardian?”
“Dad’s abroad, I’m sole guardian… I’ve called his dad, he’s getting an emergency flight.”
“All right. I’m sorry. But it was on a public roadway and the police are buzzing me for details, they want to open a case.”