Friday, July 02, 2021

One More Tonto

Today is Greg Tontini's one year death anniversary.  Last year at this time, our world was spun upside down with his sudden passing.  Today, we rode the trail in his honor and put a memorial on the tree where he died.  He had a conversation with his wife Julie about this too.  That if he died in a car crash or something, he didn't want a cross and flowers on the side of the road where he died.  He was very clear about this too.  He did not want that. know what, he's gone and it's what the living want, and the ability to say hi, laugh, and continue having one more beverage when you shouldn't in his honor.  So screw you Greg, you got the fucking cross and flowers.  Below is some pictures from the day, which was all time, as well as what I wrote to myself and Greg's family about how his last day with us went.  Read it if you like. 

6:03AM I roll up to Greg's house to pick him up and call him to come out to the truck.  It’s time to bike I say.  He gives me crap and doesn't believe that I'm there.  So I honk and he lets me know that  that he’s trying to take a shit but will be right out.   We load the bike, and off we roll.  He’s fumbling with his Starbucks ap, asking me repeatedly if I want a coffee from Starbucks when I’m clearly drinking one I brewed myself.  We joke that we should of stopped at the Bikini Barista on Holman instead, and laugh at the two trucks getting a skin show at 6:10AM.  We get to Starbucks on 105th and I5 and he runs in with his shirt over his face because he forgot his face mask and comes out with his coffee and breakfast treat.  He was stoked too.  The Starbucks girl knew his name, which he realized was because his name was on the order he put in on the ap but she recognized him as he is a regular there during hunting season.  She asked if hunting season was starting and they were gonna see him on the regs.  Down I5 we went joking back and forth, talking shit about things.  We got on the subject of who was meeting us this morning and I told him it was Joe and Todd.  Toohey was supposed to go but he backed out last minute.  Greg told me that he hoped Toohey didn’t hate him after the protesting argument that they had gotten in a couple weeks before.  Greg was clear that he had a couple too many at that time and didn’t remember the details of the argument but didn’t like that he made Toohey mad.  He loved the dude and respected what he stood for and wanted to clear that air.  I let him know that Toohey wasn’t like that, and was fine with Greg and then we moved on to how Julie told him not to crash his bike today and to be careful of his shoulder that he had surgery on.  He had no plans of crashing and no plans of going faster than a coast.  This ride was his first on his new mountain bike that he just bought off me and honestly the only reason I think he bought it was for the bro time.  Biking is the activity that puts people together.  You get to drive to the spot together, talk shit on the ride up and pretend you're being athletic, enjoy the rip down and act like your rad, but then at the end, we pull a couple chairs out of the rig and have a beer or two and shoot the shit.  Today wasn’t a beer day, but Greg said he’d ride because he just bought the bike, and needed to try it out so it wasn’t just another Gregs making money purchase to stimulate the economy.     As we were driving I opened up my radio display where there's a compartment to hide you wallet and other valuable crap when you go riding so when the meth heads break into your car, they don’t get everything.  I put my wallet and ring in there and Greg threw his wallet, phone and keys in there as well.  He asked me 10 too many questions about how I discovered that compartment and kept interrupting me when I gave him the answers.  He was driving me crazy at this point with stacking question on top of question but apparently the coffee kicked in and Greg was chatty.  We were talking about his cop buddies, and the struggles it must be during this crap to be a cop.  We got to Raging River parking lot a little past the 6:45 meeting time and Todd and Joe were outside the gates that let you into the parking lot.  The gates were locked and we got dressed in the drizzle.  Greg put the knee pads that I gave him on backwards, with the taps facing in, not out and I let him roll that way.  It was my way of getting back at him for the barrage of questions that he put me thru.  He had his stupid cross fit sneakers on, some Dad cargo shorts and a couple work out jerseys on.  I gave him a helmet, Camelback with water and put elbow pads and gloves in there to put on when we got to the top.  I told Greg the sequence of events of the ride we were going up.  There's 3 sections, first one sucks and its about 18 minutes to the road crossing.  The second one is easy, 10 minutes or so, and then the third was another 15 plus minutes to the picnic table where we would put the rest of the pads on and ride down.  I led the first section, cause they always make the oldest and slowest lead so we have a talking pace up.  Joe was behind me, then Todd and Greg.  Todd was telling us about his new used Sprinter van he just bought, surfing in CA, and how he was probably going to sell his surf boat at the end of the summer.  Greg chimed in about the van and surfing, asking him something or other.  He was doing pretty good keeping with the pack for a bit, then slowed his pace down and said he was fat or something like that.  We made it thru the first road crossing and Greg rolled up saying he wasn’t gonna make it to the top, maybe next section but he was fat and out of shape.  Which for me was sandbagging Greg, sandbagging the situation.  As we sat at the first section, I told him how much fitter and in better shape he looked right now than PK had looked there two years ago after telling me he rode a “Pelaton” at least 5 days a week.  PK was gassed when we rode this and I have a picture of him bent over his bars with his tongue on the ground.  It was during the time that Trump told the nation the way to stop the forest fires was for us to rake the forest.  I think PK and I were joking about forgetting a rake that day.  Greg felt good after a rest, and I told him that the first time I rode this ride, I humiliated myself as a “biker” because my fat ass had to walk a little bit of each section.  I wanted to back out like he did, but this 26 year old dude I was riding with, Mike, kept waiting for me, kept encouraging me that I had one more turn and the ride was over.  Because Mike made me finish, I told myself then that I never wanted to walk that ride or any ride again and made myself pedal pretty regularly to keep my word.  Greg knew we had 10 minutes on this next section and it was the easiest section.  He Joe led this one, with me next, then Greg and Todd pulled up the rear.  Greg told us to go ahead but we said no.  This is what we do, we ride together, we talk shit together and when you need a rest, stop, we’ll stop with you.  We stopped a couple times for Greg to catch his breath, and he wasn’t excited about himself that he was stopping but we were ok with it.  Its what you do.  On the last stop Greg pulled over and we were 100 feet from finishing the section, Greg said he wasn’t going to the top, which I was fine with.  No problem, we’re done in less than a minute.  He told Todd and I to go ahead, he’d meet us up there but we didn’t.  We just stopped, and Greg was sandwiched between Todd and I.  I remember all three of us talking while Greg was catching his breath and then I remember Todd and I just talking.  Greg had rested on his bars for a second for what I thought to relax and the next thing I saw was him fall down into me.  To be honest, I thought he was fucking with me.  I said “really?”  But Todd knew what was up.  He jumped off the bike, told me “lets go” and we jumped on him.  We flattened him out, pulled the helmet off, put my pack under his head to get him straight.  Greg looked like he fainted, as he was snoring and breathing but he was out cold.  Todd told me to call 911 now.  After a minute or so of being on 911, going thru where we were and what was going on, the lady on 911 told us to start CPR.  1, 2, 3, 4 on chest compressions is what she said.  Do them over and over, and count with me, 1, 2, 3, 4.  Todd took the first shift, while I was telling her about Greg, any medical conditions that I knew of and what not.  I said he had a fat deposit removed 3 weeks ago on his rib, and had two shoulder surgery’s over the last two years.  “Does he have a heart condition?”  Not that I knew of, and I said he was a sandbagger, the he would probably wake up and could bench 300lbs.  Todd and I switched off back and forth, and Joe was at the top of trail waiting for us.  911 lady said to stay on him until he woke up while we were doing this.  Todd was the man in charge on the scene for sure.  He had a clear head, and was focused.  I kept jumping in on Greg because I wanted to be the one laughing at him when woke up and told us to get off him.  Honestly, I don’t know if I had a scope of the situation at that point, I’m sure Todd did though and if Greg would of made it out of this, it would of been because of Todd.  It was easily 10-15 minutes that Todd and I were going back and forth when two bikers showed up.  Nate who had a dog, and his buddy who had some sort of medical training.  He asked if we were doing some sort of procedure that he knew and I said we were doing what the 911 gal told us to do.  Nate went up ahead and told Joe to come back down, and he waited at the road for the medics.  His buddy, Todd, Joe and I were on the CPR rounds with Greg and then I left to the road because I could hear the sirens.  The responders were on the wrong road and we dropped pins to where were were.  Nate's signal wasn’t good, so i took the number and dropped a pin a well.  I went back down to Greg and there was another biker there.  This guy was older than us and his name is Dr. Dave.  Dr. Dave's an Orthopedic Surgeon and he said we were doing everything right.  He told me to go to the road and tell the responders that Greg needed a defibrillator and a stint or something that i don't remember now but did remember when I got up there because then a responder truck was there.  It took about another 5 minutes for two ambulances, another truck and a 4x4 utility vehicle to show up.  There was 10-12 dudes and one female now on scene along with all our guys and the bikers.  These guys got to work and it was then my mind started to realize that this wasn’t a good situation.  We were at least 40 minutes from when Greg fell over.  The cut off his shirt and pack, we pulled off his shoes and backwards pads, and juiced his heart with a shock, were pumping on it as well, gave min a shot of epinephrine.  The called for a Lucas Machine to be brought down and that looked like a lawn mower engine you put on the chest that does the compressions.  They juiced him again and we got him on a flat board, put the Lucas on him and we moved him up the road to the ambulance.  All the people there grabbed the air tanks, med kits, and all the crap that was there and brought it up to the trucks.  The paramedic that seemed in charge said that we did everything right and ready for when they arrived on scene.  We were on the road and the one Sheriff came up to me asking about Greg, our group and what not.  He was really nice and his demeanor couldn’t have been more suited for the situation we were in.  I felt safe talking to him, and thought everything was going to be alright.  We talked about going to Bellevue hospital or Issaqua and I asked if I should call Julie to let her know whats up.  We didn’t know which hospital he was going to yet, so I called Lisa and made her aware of what was going on.  Get dressed, get ready because your going to have to drive Julie out here.  She asked me some questions I had no idea of, or if I did couldn’t make words of and she recognized that and let me go.  We went from the road back down to the trail and got our bikes, gear and Greg's bike.  The paramedics put Greg's bike and gear in the other ambulance and we said we’d meet at the trailhead and I would grab it.  By then they would know what hospital he was going too.   I thanked Nate and his friend, Dr. Dave, who said good job to all of us and Todd, Joe and I rode the trail down pretty slow because Greg would want us to enjoy the ride down.  We got to the cars before the rest of the trucks made it down but there was a bunch of Cop cars and a ambulance down the road.  I loaded my bike, got my bike gear off, told Joe and Todd thank you for being there, while going over the situation and each of our versions.  I think at that point I was still believing that Greg was going to be cussing me out at the hospital but had these bad thoughts going thru my head that he might now.  Joe and Todd were last on him before the paramedics got to him and knew that he had stopped breathing 3-5 minutes before they took control while I was at the road, which I didn’t know til later, or did know that but didn’t remember it.  I got in my rig and met the ambulance at the trailhead to grab Greg's bike and gear.  Once I loaded it in, the head paramedic was walking toward me as I walked towards him.  He told me that they stopped working on Greg on the way down, that he had passed.  I couldn’t believe it, Todd was there and he couldn’t believe it and the same with Joe.  The paramedic said that Greg was in the first ambulance and he was going to be transferred to the coroners office.  I asked what should we tell Julie, what to do and where to go.  He said that she should come to Exit 27 where we were.  He was clear that he would tell Julie that Greg had passed if I couldn’t do it and I said no, I got this.  I dialed her number, then panicked and handed him the phone.  After he told her he handed me back the phone and I apologized for it and told her where to meet us I think.  It was the worst conversation ever.  I called Jeff and for some reason was able to tell him.  I dont know how, but he was understanding, compassionate and said he was sorry about this but was happy that Greg was with me doing what we were doing.  The cops said to not have Julie come out as she wouldn’t be able to see him until tomorrow at the coroners.  That blew my mind but now understand that it would just extend all the drama that was going on and all the responders and police that were on the scene.  I called Julie and let her know that she couldn’t see him and tomorrow would be the day.  Then asked the paramedic if I could see Greg and say good bye to him.  He didn’t think the cops would allow it but went to ask.  The head policeman looked at me and before he could say no, I told him that Greg believed in the police.  I had empathy for what was going on an he had three good cop friends.  He paused and said ok but don't…. and I cut him off and said I'm not gonna take anything off him, I just want to say bye to my friend. 

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