This all happened on Friday, Dec. 12, 2008, in a small Oregon town called Woodburn. The whole story is tragic and complicated, but the relevant portion concerns insurance. Woodburn belongs to a self-insurance cooperative called City County Insurance Services, and when the bomb exploded, the men and women of CCIS found themselves handling a crisis.
They had to spend hours on the phone in search of a grief counselor with four-wheel drive and snow tires who could be at Woodburn City Hall by 8:45 a.m. Monday. They had to fill out a bundle of paperwork for the city recorder, who would normally handle such things except she happened to be the dead captain's wife. The police chief's medical bills would total more than $500,000, which meant CCIS needed another insurance company to help pay. One claims supervisor, Susan Lavier, drove down an icy road with one hand on the wheel of her Dodge Durango and the other hand holding a cellphone on which she negotiated with the excess-coverage provider to make sure the chief got the care he would need: a plastic surgeon for his face, a vascular surgeon for his amputated leg, an orthopedist for his broken bones, an ear specialist for his perforated eardrum, a wheelchair, a wheelchair van, hallways at home wide enough for his wheelchair, a driveway level enough for the van. Lavier would have to justify every cent.
Earlier this year, CCIS recognized Lavier, Valerie Saiki, John Dalen and Janie McCollister for their exemplary service on the Woodburn case. The company has a phrase for what they did. They call it Doing a Mallory.
I know I will never forget their good deed; whereas, had they even won the entire NCAA softball tournament, I'm sure I would have forgotten their name as soon as the next team won.
DENISE AND GARY IAMS, MARION, OHIO
Central Washington scores twice in the bottom of the second, closing the gap to one run. Western Oregon scores again in the fourth to go ahead 4--2. Central leaves the bases loaded in the sixth. Mallory has two hits but no runs batted in. The score is still 4--2 when the game ends. Even if Sara's home run had been called a single, Central would have been one run short.
Some will say that only a woman would have done what Mallory did, that a baseball player in the same situation would have left his opponent in the dust. Some will say that only an amateur would have done what Mallory did, and only a player from a Division II college or lower, because in Division I and professional sports the purity of competition is tainted by money. There will be plenty of debate, except on one point. Almost all of us who hear Mallory's story will search the high meadows of our souls for hope that we would have done the same thing, or that we will, if we are ever given the chance.
Mallory walks off the field into the arms of her mother and father. "We're so proud of you, honey," they tell her, as always, and the evening holds the promise of a trip to Outback Steakhouse. But right now the game is over, and her softball career will expire in seven days, and the playoffs are forever out of reach. And Mallory Holtman weeps.