I scouted out a good place to belay the body down. Vinnie agreed and radioed for only the most experienced of the searchers to come up with rope, a bodybag and the 'skid'. These kids were experienced searchers but they ranged in age from 14-18. We wanted to limit the number that were exposed to the body. They came up. The ME and I gloved up and positioned the body bag.
The ME explained how to set up the bag, which was blue plastic, downslope of the body. I took hold of his shoulder and hip and rolled the corpse into the bag. He was just stiff enough to make rolling him easy and had landed in a position where nothing was sticking out too far. Very lucky first body: fresh, not fat (about 180 pounds), rigor but not splayed out. When he rolled, the hand that was tucked under him would have hit me but I blocked–jujutsu reflexes–and it left a brown and red slime on the outside edge of my gloved hand and on my sleeve.
We zipped him in and then some of the others helped haul him to the top of the little saddle. Vin set up the ropes and belay system while Cherisa and I strapped the body bag onto the 'skid' which is a smooth, hard, flexible plastic sheet that can go under the body bag for sliding. When the body was ready to go, Amy and I tied into the rope it was attached to. We controlled the lower end, keeping it from tangling or banging as the rest of the team lowered us from above. Basically rappelling while carrying a body with somebody else's hand on the brake. When we got to the bottom, the cut in the trees made by the road showed a cliff and swirling clouds in a gray sky at the very end of twilight. It was a beautiful day to be alive and I was alive and that poor son of a bitch wasn't. Those were the exact words that went through my head.
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