Who needs a license?

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With shoulders slumped, the driver looked dejectedly at his crashed car with its crumpled metal and fluid spilling out onto the street like blood draining from a body.

The driver, who was about 18 years old, had a look of disbelief as the flashing police and fire lights bounced off our faces.

During the interview I asked, “Do you have a license?”

He replied, “No,” as his permit shook in his hand.

This was my fourth crash of the night and my second with an at fault unlicensed driver. Driver’s licenses and rules don’t mean anything anymore to some people.

Being responsible doesn’t seem to matter anymore either, regardless of how many people are killed or injured in crashes when an unlicensed person gets behind the wheel. I guess having a driver’s license is just a suggestion.

I asked, “Do you know you’re not supposed to drive?”

In a low voice the driver said, “I was going to the DMV next week.”

Well, that doesn’t help the mother and child who were transported to the hospital. That also doesn’t help all the copss at the scene who were tied up with traffic control, or the paramedics, ER staff and ambulance drivers, who treated these victims.

“I woulda, coulda, shoulda” doesn’t help anyone when an unlicensed driver sends you to the hospital.

Be careful out there. The guy next to you might be suspended or unlicensed and they’ll take you out.

Do you know who Chuck Berry is?

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I try to never miss an opportunity to say something random to keep people on their toes. Once the randomness gets unleashed you never know where the conversation is going to go.

On Friday night, I was at a traffic collision when I asked a male in his mid-50s what happened. The male said, “I was just cruising down going home.”

It was at that moment a Chuck Berry song popped into my head. With total randomness  I said, “So, you were just riding along in your automobile like Chuck Berry?”

“Yeah.”

“With no particular place to?”

The driver recognized what I said and I was rewarded with a big laugh.

After I was done, I told the guy I had never worked Chuck Berry into a traffic collision interview before. He laughed some more and seemed to appreciate my attempt at obscure humor. 

I next went to the other driver and asked, “Which way were you going? Wait, do you know who Chuck Berry is?”

He gave me a weird look and replied, “No.”

I turned to a lateral officer in training and asked, “Do you know who Chuck Berry is?” He nodded and replied he did.

I turned back to the young driver and said, “Pull out your phone and Google it,” You could tell he wasn’t sure what to think, but he was a good sport and got his phone out. I think part of him wanted to know where this randomness was going.

Once on You Tube, he typed in Chuck Berry and asked me which video. I pointed to “No particular place to go” and he clicked on it. The video started playing as Chuck Berry sang:

Riding along in my automobile
My baby beside me at the wheel
I stole a kiss at the turn of a mile
My curiosity runnin’ wild
Crusin’ and playin’ the radio
With no particular place to go……..

After we were done with the musical history lesson,  I was standing with a cop and a civilian report writer when another lateral officer trainee walked up. Since he was younger, I decided to ask, “Do you know who Chuck Berry is?”

He gave me a quizzical look and said, “No.” The look on his face and how he answered made us laugh. That’s when he asked, “Why, do I look like him?”

We laughed even harder now. I looked back at the Hispanic officer and replied, “He’s black.”

Priceless……….

Stay in the car next time buddy

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The other night, I responded to a traffic collision involving a pedestrian. When I arrived, I saw a male at the corner with fire personnel. Another cop was already there, who told me the male was lying in the intersection when he drove up.

The male had a head injury and abrasions to his arms. He kept repeating himself and wouldn’t listen when asked him questions.  You could tell he got his bell rung and there were little birdies circling his head like a cartoon character.

His wife was parked at the corner and she didn’t know what happened to him either. The witness was gone and I couldn’t get ahold of her. After some confusion, we finally figured out what happened.

It turned out the husband and wife were arguing as they drove down the street. When they stopped for a red light, he got out of the passenger seat in a huff and slammed the door.  She then left him in the street when the light turned green.

I’m sure getting out of a car in the traffic lanes sounded like a good idea at the time, but it didn’t work out so well for this future human hood ornament.

After driving off, the wife decided she should go back. When she returned, the woman found her husband lying in the middle of the intersection (with the same birdies circling his head).

It turned out he got hit by another car after she drove off. To add a twist to the story, the car took off.

So dumb.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

 

Read the DMV book

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One night, I was heading back to the station to do paperwork when I saw a car make a left turn from a side street as it drove between delineators and across a painted median.

As he turned, I was taken back to a cold and rainy morning in 1999 when I handled my very first fatal collision. It was at this same intersection where an 85 years old man made a left turn from a stop sign and was broadsided.

On the day of the fatal there were no delineators or painted medians. The design of the street changed sometime after that crash and I hadn’t been there for a call since.

I stopped the car and asked the driver for his license. He replied, “I don’t have it with me.”

“You forgot it or you don’t have a license?” I asked.

“I don’t have it with me.”

“You don’t have one, right?”

“No.”

During the stop we talked about the violation and who owned the car. He said he was the owner and he didn’t have insurance either. I asked, “Have you even taken the license test yet?”

The driver replied, “No, but the DMV book is in my glovebox.”

“Have you read it yet?”

“No,” he replied. He then added with a hopeful tone, “But I’ve looked through the pages.”

All I could do was shake my head and call for a tow truck. After he signed his ticket, the driver grabbed some belongings. When he was done I asked, “Did you get the DMV book?”

He nodded his head, reached into a bag and held it up like a winning lottery ticket. At least he remembered to take it. Maybe he’ll read it one day.

The puppy and the steering wheel

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On Thursday night, I went to an injury crash involving a parked car on a busy residential street in the central part of the city. When I got there, I saw the driver sitting on the curb with fire personnel. His right eye was purple and swollen shut like Rocky Balboa after 15 rounds with Apollo Creed.

I looked at the scene and could tell the driver was northbound when he veered to the right and hit a parked truck.

I also saw a woman sitting on a retaining wall with a small dog in her arms about ten feet away from the driver. I dind’t pay attention to her because I thought she was one of the many onlookers, who were standing around and watching the show.

After the fire guys were done, I walked up to the driver and asked him what happened. With quivering lips he said, “I had my puppy on my lap.”

I looked back at the woman with the dog and realized the driver’s four-legged passenger must’ve had a rough ride.

The driver said, “My puppy put his head through the steering wheel. I pulled his head out and then tried to swerve away from the truck.”

After the driver was done telling me how the collision occurred, I said, “Doggone it.”

The joke hand grenade was in the air waiting for the driver to get it, but he never did. At least Noggie, who was standing next to me, got it.

After I was done with the interview, the driver sat on the curb and called someone. While he was on the phone, his voice changed and he became upset. I could tell from the conversation that the person on the other end didn’t believe his puppy story.

At one point he said, “I wasn’t fucking texting! The dog was on my lap and he stuck his head in the steering wheel!”

He was in the middle of his argument when I walked over to him and said, “If it makes you feel better, I believe you.”

He looked up at me with the most sincere look and said, “Thank you.”

My gut feeling told me he was telling the truth. Plus, his story was so crazy it was believable. It was the least I could do for the poor guy because his eye really did look like Rocky Balboa’s after a beat down.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

Need a Lyft?

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Photo courtesy of Ubereats.com

The other night, I responded to the parking lot of McDonald’s for a traffic collision involving a car and a pedestrian. The fire department and two other cops were already there when I arrived.

I saw a car stopped near the drive-thru window with a dislodged headlamp and a man sitting on the ground in front of it. The man, who was in his mid-fifties, told the fire fighters he didn’t want to go to the hospital.

They went back and forth about the man’s injury before it was decided he was going to get in the ambulance. They gurney was wheeled up to him and I jumped in to ask about the crash.

The man replied, “I work for Uber Eats.”

With two ambulance guys and four firefighters there, I couldn’t resist as I said, “The ambulance is going to give you a Lyft.”

The groans and laughs made my joke worth it, even though the Uber guy didn’t get it.

There’s nothing like a bad joke to keep things interesting….

 

Too Soon?

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photo by: socalhondadealers.com

The other night, I responded to a traffic collision involving a vehicle and a pedestrian on a major highway on the west side of the city. When I got there, I saw the fire truck in the middle of the street, along with a couple of police cars.

The pedestrian, who was about 45 years old, was lying in the street with fire personnel around her. She was awake and complaining about her arm. After she was loaded into the ambulance, I walked over to the driver, who was bathed in the flashing red and blue lights of the emergency vehicles.

The driver was wearing a powdered blue polo shirt with the Honda logo on it, which I recognized from the commercials. He had a serious look on his face , which I understood because of what he’d just been through. As I walked up, the officer next to the male said, “He’s the driver.”

I looked at the driver and said, “You’re the helpful Honda guy.”

A strange look flashed across his face. It was like he wasn’t sure if he should laugh, be worried or try and sell me a car.

Too soon?

The cat did it

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One thing you hear every so often is the old “an animal ran out in front of me” excuse. Yes, I realize cats and dogs have a death wish, but a parked car is always involved when our four-legged friends are blamed. It’s funny how there’s never a witness around when this happens.

Then there’s the “my steering wheel locked up” excuse. Of course, a parked car is always the victim when this happens too. And once again, no one is ever around.

A few weeks ago, I responded to a crash at 1:30AM where four parked cars were struck. When I arrived, the officer on scene told me the driver was 18 years old and not DUI.

I replied, “Let me guess. A dog ran out in front of him?”

“No, a cat. He also said his steering wheel locked up.”

Oh boy.  A cat and a locked steering wheel on the same call? Was it Friday the 13th also?

I prepared myself for a tall tale and asked the driver what happened. The driver told me he was going 10 miles per hour when the cat dashed out in front of him heading southbound. I was on the edge of my seat when he courageously swerved (spectacular movie music in the background) to miss the cat. That’s when his steering wheel mysteriously locked up at that very moment and he crashed into the parked cars on the wrong side of the road.

I was breathless, intrigued and aghast at the cat and this incredible story. That’s when I asked, “What color was the cat?”

“It was black.”

Of course, it was a black cat. An orange cat with stripes and white tipped paws would never dash out in front of a car at 1:30AM.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

What planet are you from?

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As a cop, you’re used to people lying to you. It’s part of the job. Sometimes it’s like a chess match where you have to be one step ahead of the lie. Other times, people are just plain stupid and say the dumbest things imaginable.

On Saturday night,  a driver told me he was stopped for a red light when he realized he was in the wrong lane. Instead of going straight,  he wanted to be in the left turn lane. He reversed without looking and crashed into the car behind him.

The other driver told me she was stopped at the red light when the car in front of her backed up and crashed into her.

It was nice and easy with no drama except for a DUI investigation.

During the investigation one of the passengers from the offending car told me, “She rear ended us.”

What planet was she from?

She went on to say, “I saw the gear and it was in drive. We were stopped and she rear ended us.”

Was she from plant “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire?”

I shouldn’t have engaged her, but I did. I told her that both drivers confirmed how the collision occurred and she wasn’t telling the truth. Of course, she told tell me her silliness again, which made her nose grow like Pinocchio’s.

What a waste of time.  

Nothing annoys me more than hearing someone trying to influence the collision investigation with a lie. To me, this isn’t a normal lie. It’s much bigger than that.

A person’s driving record and insurance rates are at stake here. A lie like that could cost someone a lot of money over the next couple of years, or more if they are sued.

Next time how about being from plant STFU.

Number two?

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On Friday night, I met the victims of a hit and run crash in a parking lot after they chased the suspect and lost him. When I got there, I jumped into the ambulance so I could speak to the driver.

After I was done speaking to her, the ambulance left for the hospital. I next went up to her mother, who was a passenger in the car at the time. I got her information and then asked if she was injured.

The woman told me her back and chest hurt. She then added, “And my stomach doesn’t feel good.”

“Anything else hurt?”

“I feel like going diarrhea.”

I think we just hit TMI status with that one.  All I could do was shake my head as I replied, “Well, I can’t help you with that.”

You just never know what people will say next.