STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
It is a Friday - and not just any Friday; we're heading into a holiday weekend. And as we head into this Labor Day weekend, today's StoryCorps brings us an interview with a retired state trooper. His name is Mark Edens. For many of his years on the job, Mark investigated fatal car accidents on Michigan's highways. He recently sat down at StoryCorps with his daughter Jessie, to talk about his work.
MARK EDENS: Most of my interaction with people was the worst moment of their life. One night, we came upon a head-on accident. There was a man in a Volkswagen that had been hit by a pickup truck going the wrong way. It turns out, I knew the man. He had just moved from someplace in Wisconsin, and he had three little kids - very little. I think the oldest was probably 6 or 7. So I went to the home about 12 o'clock that night. And his wife thought he was bowling. And she was - gone to sleep, and the house is dark. I had to wake her up, tell her what happened.
"Ma'am, I'm sorry to tell you, but your husband was in an accident, and he was killed." The best thing you can do is to tell somebody right away. A lot of guys would just say it and run; they never left the porch. But I took her in the house and said, "Is there someone we can call?" And then one of the kids came out of the bedroom, and he said to me, "Well, what's wrong?" Well, his mother, she was talking on the phone with her parents, and me standing there and say - "Well, go ask your mom" - I mean, that was just the wrong thing to do.
So I remember sitting in that living room, with that little boy, telling him what happened. I couldn't lie to him. And I always felt that it was better me telling him, than somebody else.
JESSIE EDENS: Mm-hmm.
MARK EDENS: Delivering a death message is not an easy thing. But that was one of the harder ones. And I always felt that it was something that I was born to do - because I could do it.
INSKEEP: Retired Michigan state trooper Mark Edens, with his daughter Jessie, at StoryCorps. His interview will be archived along with all StoryCorps interviews, at the Library of Congress. And you can find the podcast at npr.org.