He’s not listening

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I rarely have problems with the drivers at collision scenes. Most of the time it’s low key and the drivers are happy the cops showed up. But then, add a husband, wife or friend, who are emotional know-it-alls and everything goes downhill.

It was late afternoon when a male with no license ran a red light and crashed into another car. The driver said the sun was in his eyes and he had no idea what color his light was. This was a great statement, because even if he lied, he still ran the red light.

The other driver said her light was green and she never saw the car until it hit her. It doesn’t get easier than this, right? Now add a husband…….

“No offense, but I think his excuse is bullshit,” said the know-it-all husband. He then added, “What are you going to do to him? He’s not safe to drive.”

“He could be lying about the sun, but either way he’s at fault,” I replied.

“What are you going to do to him?” he asked again.

I told the husband people make mistakes all the time and unfortunately, they crash. I added no one was hurt and that was the most important thing.

“What are you going to do to him?”

“What do you want me to do to him?”

“He’s not safe.”

“People do stupid stuff all the time and they crash. It happens. I don’t want to minimize what happened to your wife, but people crash all day long.”

“But what are you going to do to him?”

Was I talking to myself? I might as well have been talking to the wall across the street. He obviously hadn’t heard a word I said. To be a smart ass I almost said, “Do you want me to shoot him? Would that make you feel better?”

It would’ve been totally worth it to see his reaction.

You just handle the job and move on

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A few months ago, I spoke with a driver in his early 20s, who was involved in a minor traffic collision. After his statement, I handed him a card with the report number on it and asked, “Do you have any questions?”

“No,” he replied. He then added, “You took my crash before.”

“Where was it? What happened?” I asked.

He told me the crash location and it happened two years ago. I reached into my brian as different images flashed through my memory like movie highlights until one stuck out.

“Do you hit a woman who was crossing the street?”

“Yes.”

“Was it a major injury collision?” I asked, trying to remember the details from that night.

“Yes. I had a lot of therapy over that.” An awkward moment hung in the air because I didn’t know what to say. “I have PTSD,” he said.

I stood there and couldn’t remember everything about that night, but I did remember a woman being hit. I didn’t remember him, his vehicle or what happened to the pedestrian.

After the collision, I did some research and found the crash he was talking about. I pulled up the report and it all came back to me.

The pedestrian was crossing against a red light when she was hit by his car and died.

After seeing the report, I thought of the driver and compared our roles from that night. For him, his life changed forever in a blink of the eye when that person ran out in front of his car. What a tremendous weight to carry at such an young age.

And then there was me and my role. It was a call. I handled it and moved on to the next crash. It’s not that I dodn’t care, but you have to do your job and move on. Some calls bother you more than others. There are some calls you never forgot and others your memory stores somewhere off to the side.

Unfortunately, there will be more dead, broken and injured bodies around the next corner. It’s police work and it’s called accident investigation. You just have to do the job and move on.

Be safe out there.

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.

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.

 

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….

 

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.

You’re having problems with what?

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A few weeks ago, I responded to a traffic collision where a pedestrian was hit by a truck. When I arrived, I saw a full sized truck parked on the side of the road and an injured pedestrian sitting on the curb talking with fire personnel.

The pedestrian was a male in his early 60s and looked a little banged up. The poor guy was in the crosswalk when the collision occurred.

After I was done speaking to the pedestrian, I went up to the driver of the truck and asked, “What happened?”

The driver, who was genuinely concerned for the pedestrian said, “I’ve been having problems with my blind spot.”

I had never heard that one before. In fact, I almost started laughing, but he was fragile at the movement, so I just went with, “We all have blind spots.”

He got what I was saying and explained what he meant. After he was done, I told him I knew what he was talking about because the same thing almost happened to me.

Those spontaneous statements are one of the best parts about this job. You just never know what people are going to say.

Where’s my clipboard?

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Last Saturday night I put my clipboard and notepad on the passenger side of my patrol car’s hood. If you’ve worked in a patrol car, you can see how this is going to end up.

So, there I was heading off to another late night traffic collision with the wind in my hair, lights streaking by me and the Miami Vice theme playing in my head. Well, actually there’s not much hair left anymore, but there were lights and it was nighttime.

When I arrived, I exited with the grace and agility of a jungle cat. That’s when I realized my clipboard wasn’t there. A feeling of dread hit me as numerous four-letter words flew out of my mouth. I needed that legal pad because it had notes from the last three crashes I took.

In a rush, I said hi to the cops at the crash and told them I had to go. I jumped back in my car and raced back to the scene of my absentmindedness. When I got there, I retraced my steps as I looked for my lost treasure.

That’s when I saw it. It was like a bright light as I saw my notepad lying in the gutter, untouched by passing traffic. The traffic gods had smiled down on me.

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And then I saw my clipboard in two pieces. Old faithful made its last stand at 3AM on a six-landed highway with a 45 mph speed limit. It never had a chance.

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It had been through so much over the last couple of years. Countless DUI crashes, fatal collisions, injuries and fender benders. It’s edges rounded, chipped and worn away. That clipboard had seen things..

Oh well, I needed a new clipboard anyways. That’s why Walmart sells a two-pack.