I just try to stay dry

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When it rains, there are two things that bug me. I hate getting my glasses wet and having soggy paperwork.

Whenever I arrive at a crash, I start looking for cover and shade from the rain as soon as I go on scene. Even if it’s one foot of overhang on a building I’m going to it. I must look like a guy on the ledge of a high rise as I hug the building trying to keep my notes dry.

The other day it was raining when I pulled up to a two-car collision. The drivers and their passengers were standing on the corner getting wet. This wasn’t going to work for me so pointed to McDonalds and said, “I’ll meet everyone inside.” They gave me a weird look at first, but then realized it was a much better idea than standing out there in the rain.

After the scene was safe, I walked into McDonalds and conducted business. Everyone was sitting in chairs or booths and seemed happy to be out of the rain. More importantly,  my paperwork and my glasses were dry, so I was even happier.

A couple customers gave us a funny look as they tried to figure out why two cops were talking to all of these people. I’m sure it was a first for everyone involved.

After we were done, it was time to go back outside. I looked over at the McDonalds manager and said, “Thank you,” as everyone left.

He waved with a smile and said, “Anytime.”

I thought the call went well and we provided dry and warm customer service, along with McDonalds. It was good teamwork and  I’ll have to keep them in mind the next time I have a collision out front.

There’s an old saying that says a cop should never get wet, hungry or thirsty. I couldn’t agree more.

Is it called a median?

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Do you know what the concrete center divider is called? It’s a median, but for some reason a lot of people call it a meridian.

The other night I went to a call where a male struck the median and then crashed into a traffic signal pole. The impact caused the vehicle to roll over and come to rest on the its side.

There was a witness, who stopped and told me what happened. When I was done with his statement, I asked him for his information. He told me his name and said he lived on Meridian Street. I wanted to joke with him and ask if he really meant he lived on Median Street instead. I skipped the joke because it would’ve been too hard to explain.

I still thought it was funny he lived on Meridian Street when a median was struck.

As you can tell, it’s the simple things that entertain me. But if you heard the word meridian as much as I have, you’d be entertained too.

When a pet hears the garage door

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Jasper waiting after hearing the garage door open.

The other day I was in the kitchen when I heard the garage door open. That’s when I noticed Jasper, our cat, get up and walk toward the hallway and sit in front of the door that leads to the garage.

My wife had just gotten home and our cat knew it was time for her canned food treat of the night. Watching the cat sit in the hallway reminded me of a collision story that I hadn’t thought about in a long time.

You might be wondering how this could be related to a crash story. Well, this is police work and sometimes the weirdest and saddest things happen.

About five years ago, I responded to a traffic collision in which a vehicle had struck a house. This doesn’t happen that often, but when it does, it’s a sight to see. When I got there, I saw a car inside a garage. It had crashed into the wall and the door that goes into the house. It was significant damage, but no one was injured. The driver, who was elderly, was shaken and a bit confused.

The fire department was on scene and was about to clear when someone told me, “She killed her dog.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“We found her dog inside the house at the door.”

“Wow.”

That’s when I imagined her dog hearing the garage door open and running to it because she was home. The poor dog never had a chance because the door and wall took the full force of the collision.

I decided I didn’t want to see the dog and completed the report like a regular crash. There was nothing else for me to do and neighbors were going to stand by with her until family arrived.

I left hoping the dog hadn’t suffered.

Who gets the next Darwin Award?

darwinWikipedia defines the Darwin Awards as “individuals who have supposedly contributed to human evaluation by selecting themselves out of the gene pool via death or sterilization by their own actions.”

Today, I saw a guy trying to win his own Darwin Award. I was driving through my neighborhood when I saw a car parked with its right tires up on the sidewalk at the corner with its hood up. As I passed, I noticed a man lying underneath the car with his legs sticking out. There was a slight decline where the car was and there was nothing behind the tires to prevent it from rolling backwards.

I just shook my head and wondered what kind of dumb ass thought this was a good idea. I also wondered if the guy knew how often parked cars get struck by people who aren’t paying attention. I guess self-preservation wasn’t one of his priorities.

I’ve been to so many collisions I wouldn’t even tie my shoe in the street, let alone be on my back under a car in the street.

I cracked up when I saw this because I’m a little twisted. I bet he’s the type of guy who works on his electrical outlets without shutting off the power. He probably sticks a knife into the toaster while it’s still plugged in or looks into a gun barrel with his finger on the trigger.

After I picked up my son from school, I drove by the Darwin house again. My son saw the guy and started laughing as he said, “Oh my God.”

I stopped and took the picture because you can’t make this stuff up. At least the police officer would have a picture of what the scene looked like in case the car was hit and the guy was run over.

Unfortunately, it’s only a matter of time before I take a fatal collision like this. It’s unavoidable. There are too many people in the world performing their own natural selection.

It’s truly amazing what people do to get themselves hurt or killed. Maybe I should start carrying Jesus candles with me in my patrol car. That way they can at least have a memorial when it does happen.

If Charles Darwin were still alive and saw this picture I bet he’d say, “I told you so.”

Be thankful for your family

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How many of us will go to Thanksgiving dinner and truly be thankful for what we have? Will you be thankful for the family around you today or will we go through the motions because that’s what you have always done?

On Wednesday afternoon, I dropped my daughter off at my mom’s house on the way to work. After I said goodbye, I drove down the street and stopped for the stop sign before making a right turn. While I was stopped, I saw a man sitting in a chair at the southeast corner.

The sight of the man made my heart ache as a father because I knew why he was sitting there. He was there because this was the spot where his son died many years ago in a traffic collision.

He was sitting in a chair in a small grass area next to his son’s memorial, which included a skateboard and pictures. He was alone with a book in his hand as he looked down, lost in his own thoughts as traffic went by. I have seen him here before over the years, along with a woman, who I assumed was his wife.

I watched him for a moment and couldn’t imagine the emptiness he felt. This was his spot to mourn a life that was taken away too soon. This was his spot to be close to last place his son ever stood on earth. This spot was his last connection to his son.

After I turned, I thought how different my Thanksgiving was going to be compared to this man and his wife. I’m sure they wished they could have one more Thanksgiving dinner together as a family with their son.

This is something to think about when you sit down to have your Thanksgiving dinner with your family. Take a moment and be thankful for the people around you because there are others who wish they had one more chance.

Where’s his foot?

_DSC4559-2The other night I went to an injury traffic collision involving a motorcycle and a car. The first officer on scene got on the radio and said it was a possible fatality. He also needed more traffic control to shut down the street. I was on a car stop at the time and gave the driver a break because I had to go.

As I drove away with my lights and siren on, I thought how this guy got a huge break on an expensive ticket because the other guy crashed. Kind of weird how one person’s misfortune was another person’s luck.

When I got to the scene, I saw the rider down in the street with fire personnel around him. There was a large group of people standing on the sidewalk watching.

His femur was sticking out of the skin above the knee in wound that looked right out of a war movie. There was also a large piece of flesh in the middle of the intersection that looked like a slice of cheese pizza.

After looking at the injury, I walked around to where his head was. That’s when I did a double take at the victim’s leg. It didn’t look right. From my angle the end of his leg looked like a pointy stub. The first thing that came to mind was, “Where’s his foot?”

I then looked around the area for the missing foot. I didn’t want anyone to trip over it or kick it around. As I did that, I thought how bizarre it was to be looking around for something like that.

I walked around the victim again and guess what I saw? His foot!

Thank goodness it was still attached, but it didn’t look the way it was supposed to. His shoe was off to the side and his foot was pointed down in an unnatural angle. It’s kind of funny now. I just hadn’t seen it right the first time.

One this is for sure,  it’s not every day you get to say, “Where’s his foot?” I’m glad the victim survived with both feet still attached.

Two different types of drunks

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The other night we were in the 7-Eleven parking lot on a DUI crash. When I first got there, I saw a male standing in front and didn’t pay much attention to him. Where I work, it’s not uncommon to see people hanging around 7-Eleven with nothing to do. I figured he was just one of those guys.

I did my interviews and the DUI driver was arrested. He was a happy drunk and was very cooperative. He was a carefree guy and was handcuffed with no problems. After he was arrested the driver smiled and said, “Come on. Let me go.” The patrol officer then took him to the car and had him sit in the backseat.

That’s when the guy from in front of 7-Eleven started walking toward us with his hands out like a drunk zombie as he said, “Arrest me instead.”

What a guy, right? It was out of the ordinary for a stranger to act like this on a collision call, but then again, nothing is too weird at work.

We told the guy to step back and go away, but he wouldn’t listen. He kept coming closer and closer. He eventually got arrested and became a bigger idiot after he was handcuffed. The officers took him to the car so he could get a ride with the DUI driver.

Well, he didn’t want to get into the car. The officers took the DUI out and asked me to standby with him. During this time, the other drunk was yelling, screaming and telling everyone what he really thought of cops in his best Rated R language.

That’s when the DUI guy said, “Look at this guy. He’s full of shit. I’m not like that. Let me go.”

I told him, “We appreciate it, but we just can’t let you go. We have to do our jobs.”

“Come on. Let me go.”

“You were DUI and you crashed into that woman. Plus, you don’t even have a license.”

“I know, but look at him. I’m not like that.”

It was funny to listen to nice suspect while the other guy was being such an ass. It almost made me want to give the guy a freebie. Not really. I was kidding. It was amazing to see how a regular call could go downhill in a matter of seconds because of a drunk knucklehead who wasn’t even involved.

That’s police work for you though.

“You look familiar”

_DSC7442The other night I was on a three-car collision when I looked at one of the drivers and said, “You look familiar.”

He turned to me with DUI looking eyes and didn’t say anything.

“Have you crashed before?” I asked.

He nodded his head as he said, “Yes.”

“Do you remember me?”

He shook his head no.

There was a tremor in the force because my Jedi senses told me I had run into this guy before. Well, he actually ran into someone else to be more accurate. I spent the rest of the call trying to figure out how I knew him.

A little while later, the arresting officer told me our driver was in a 2014 DUI collision that I was on. I knew it. Later on I did some research and read the old report. Bingo. I knew exactly who that was.

Back in May of 2014, I was stopped for a red light when my partner and I heard a crash. I looked across the intersection and saw two cars that were involved in a rear end collision. I drove across the street and pulled in behind the cars. The striking vehicle had front end damage and smoke was coming out from under the hood.

That’s when the door popped open and the driver fell out of the car. It was as if all of his weight was against the door and he rolled out onto the street. Once on the street, he flopped around like a sea lion at Sea World begging for a treat after doing a trick. The only thing missing was a crowd, a bucket of fish and a large pool of water.

After a few moments of animal entertainment he rolled over and started doing a low crawl like a sniper was shooting at him from a clock tower. It surely would’ve won the grand prize on America’s Funniest Home Videos. In the end, he was arrested for DUI and went to jail.

It was funny to watch because it’s not every day you get to see a grown man fall out of his car because he’s so drunk. It’s also not every day you get to run into him again at another collision.

Here’s the sad thing. This is the second time this year where I’ve contacted a previous DUI customer of mine at a crash where they were DUI again.

When are these people ever going to learn?

My vacation and Hurricane Carlos

A view of the ship from a water taxi in Cabo.

A view of the ship from a water taxi in Cabo.

I just spent a week on the cruise ship Carnival Miracle that left out of Long Beach, CA. The itinerary was for us to stop at Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán and Puerto Vallarta. It sounded like a good plan, right?

Well, Hurricane Carlos had different plans for my cruise ship when it decided to head toward two of my ports of call.

We left port last Saturday afternoon and by Sunday the cruise director made an announcement about a change in the itinerary. Our first stop was supposed to be at Cabo San Lucas on Monday morning, but that was all up in the air until they could figure out if we could divert to a different port.

By Monday afternoon, we were headed to Puerto De Pichilingue in the City of La Paz, Mexico.

Pichiwhat?

The Port of Pichilingue

The Port of Pichilingue

I didn’t even know where La Paz was until I saw it on a map before we docked. At that point anything was good because we had been on the ship for two and a half days.

When we docked, the skies were a rich blue without a cloud in sight. It was warm and the hills around the port looked like a barren desert. I was a little skeptical when I got on a tour bus to head into the “city,” which was about thirty minutes away.

Along the way there were beautiful beaches, which were untouched by development. Once we got to La Paz, I could tell this area had a lot of potential and was rich in history. All it needed was a few resorts and it would be a place where people would want to visit.

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Our next stop was Cabo San Lucas, which was everything it was supposed to be. If you’ve never been there it should be on your bucket list. It was hot and the water was perfect for our snorkeling excursion. One day is Cabo wasn’t enough.

A stop in Cabo wouldn’t be complete without some bargaining in the tourist area. My wife wanted a bracelet that was $25. I offered $10. The vender went down to $13 and then $12, but I held firm at $10.

Apparently my wife wasn’t paying attention to my bargaining skills because she said, “Thirteen dollars sounds good.”

The vendor smiled and acted like he won. I gave him a brake check and said,  “Twelve dollars.” He finally gave up accepted my money. That was the funniest part of the trip.

The last stop was in Ensenada, which the cruise director said was his favorite port in the whole world. Of course, he said it as a joke. Ensenada is Ensenada. There’s not much to say about it. I went there 15 years ago on a 3-day cruise with a couple of friends. We only made it to the bar Papas and Beer on that trip. Yesterday the drive in Ensenada showed the city is still torn up from the floor up.

As we left port yesterday, I reflected on my trip as my son and I looked across the bay from the Lido Deck (9th floor). It wasn’t the perfect vacation, but it was still nice to get away.

Hopefully there won’t be any hurricanes on my next vacation.

What Do You Think Of When You Hear The Word Pedestrian?

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Do kids who grow up in a law enforcement family see the world differently? Ask someone in this line of work and they’ll tell you a story how their child said something a person their age would never say.

Here are a few examples.

In the spring of 2006, my son was just shy of four-years old. He was sitting on the floor in his room with wood blocks he stacked up. He also had a Thomas The Train in his hand.

He held up the train as he told me to watch. He then knocked the blocks down with the train as he said, “I’m playing fatal crash.” OMG.

I told my son that story today while we were driving and we laughed so hard. At one point he asked, “Who plays that?”

Exactly! This made us laugh even more.

A long time ago, the first grade teacher had to speak to me after school about my son talking too much in class. I told her I would take care of it.

While we were walking to the car I told him what she said. I also told him it was unacceptable to disrupt the teacher in class like that. He was six-years old at the time and said, “I’m not the suspect. I’m the victim.” He claimed the girl next to him was talking too much.

Another time the teacher was talking to the class about words that ended with “unk.” She gave examples like, trunk, skunk and dunk. My first grader at the time held up his hand and told the class about another word that ended in “unk.” That word was DRUNK.

A boy sitting next my son asked what drunk meant. My son replied that it was when a person crashed their car and went to jail.

One night my wife had a beer while at home. My son was very young at the time and told her she couldn’t drive. He put his finger up to my wife’s face and told her to follow it as he moved it side to side. He gave his version of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.

And finally, there is the Olive Garden story from dinner on Monday night.

The children’s menu had a cartoon road map with people on it. In the upper right corner of the menu, there were specific people and things that needed to be found on the map. It was like an Olive Garden version of Where’s Waldo.

One of the people you had to find was a “Pedestrian.” There was picture of a person with the word pedestrian under it. Now most kids would see the picture and try and find the pedestrian on the map. Not my kids.

I found out the word “Pedestrian” meant something entirely different to them.

They associated the word pedestrian with someone who crossed the street where they weren’t supposed to and got hit by a car.

I’m sure the Olive Garden people would be horrified to know their little cartoon pedestrian would be hit by the car sticker they provided as my kids joked around.

Most people think of a pedestrian as a person who crosses the street and actually makes it to the other side without getting hurt.

Apparently in my house the word represents a person who didn’t make it.

I’ve worked the last fifteen years in the traffic detail and it has rubbed off on my kids. At least I know they’ve been listening to my stories. Hopefully they’ve learned something too.

I also learned something about them.

I learned their humor is as twisted as mine. Just look at the picture and you’ll know what I’m talking about.