Was it a squirrel?

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I always find it interesting at car accident scenes when someone says, “An animal ran out in front of me.”

I know it can happen, but I’m always skeptical when it’s a single vehicle crash into a parked car or an object like a pole.

The other night I responded to a traffic collision where a parked car was sideswiped. The witness saw the driver texting as he drifted onto the wrong side of the road and crash.

The driver, who was 20 years old, was nervous and fumbling with his phone while he tried calling his mother. He was stressed and having a hard time focusing when I asked him what happened.

He said, “An animal ran out in front of me.”

Ah, the phantom animal. They, like the phantom car, have caused many collisions in my career.

“What kind of animal was it?” I asked.

That question always confuses people and it’s funny to watch them figure out the randomness.

Random is the name of the game to having fun on this job. That’s when I asked, “Was it a squirrel?”

The look on his face was priceless. With raised eyebrows, I could tell the driver was wondering why I asked about a squirrel in a suburban neighborhood. “No, it was small,” he replied.

“Are you sure it wasn’t a squirrel?” I asked again.

“No, it was a rodent.”

“Is it possible it was a squirrel?”

After each squirrel question he got more confused by the minute. I finally stopped and told him what the witness saw. With a deep breath of defeat, the driver confessed there wasn’t an animal. Not even a squirrel.

“If there was an animal, what would it be?” I asked.

With an unsure tone he said, “A stray cat?”

“A shaved cat?”

“No, a stray cat.”

The randomness of night shift……

You get an F

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About a week ago I was stuck in late afternoon traffic that was heavier than normal. While I was stopped, dispatch put out an injury traffic collision involving four cars at the freeway off ramp just ahead of me.

I looked across the sea of cars and saw the crash north of the city limit and I requested the neighboring city respond for the report.

I turned on my overhead lights as I tried to move over to the left. Once in the left lane, I squeezed between the median and traffic as I moved at a snail’s pace. Getting through traffic was no different than trying to put on a pair of jeans that I wore in high school. It just wasn’t happening.

When I finally got up to the crash I saw car with a shattered rear window and its trunk in the backseat. The driver had a dazed look as he stood next to the paperweight that used to be his car.

A full-sized truck had rear ended him, which caused a chain reaction with two other vehicles. The driver of the truck told me he was on the gas while changing lanes and never saw the car in front of him.

I started the paper work and waited for the other officer to respond. Once the other cop arrived, I told the offending driver I was leaving.

He gave me a lost look and asked, “Do I get a report card?”

I knew he meant report number, but I couldn’t resist as I replied, “Yeah, you get an F.”

The F comment hung there like a silent but deadly fart traveling through the air searching out an unsuspecting victim. His facial expression then changed knowing he was just Badge415ized.

He smiled and said, “That’s fucked up.”

“You opened the door on that one,” I replied as I smiled.

Postal?

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Photo from Newsweek.com

The other day I was at the station getting ready to go 10-8 when a sergeant broadcasted on the radio that he came across a non-injury collision. About a minute later he came back on the radio saying a postal truck was involved and the parties wanted a report.

He also inquired about another crash involving a postal truck and asked if his call was the same as the other. I didn’t know what he was talking about so I paid attention to the next transmission.

The dispatcher came on the radio telling him there were two separate collisions involving postal trucks. One was at his location and the other was in the western part of the city.

I keyed the mic as I said, “729.”

“729?” the dispatcher parroted back.

“729, confirming the crashes have gone postal?”

The radio was silent for what seemed like forever. It was an awkward silence like when someone farts in an elevator and you can’t wait for the doors to open.

The silence was finally broken as she acknowledged me.

I got into my car and looked at my MDT. There was a message from DSP1 that simply said, “REALLY????!!!”

“I couldn’t resist,” I typed back.

I went to the crash and handled it. About 35 minutes later I was ready to clear the call, but I needed to get on the radio one last time.

“729.”

“729?”

“Are there any other crashes involving postal trucks that are holding?”

“Negative,” came the reply.

My MDT beeped as “MESS” appeared on my screen from DSP1.

What other time am I ever going to say “postal” on the radio twice  in less than 40 minutes? Probably never again.

Sometimes you just have to roll with it and have fun.

 

2016 went out with a crash

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I worked New Year’s Eve and 2016 went out with a bang. Actually, more like a crash.

When I first went into the traffic detail 17 years ago, my training officer told me to keep track of every crash I took so I could testify to it. Since that day all those years ago this week, I have done that for every crash.

At this rate I’m probably hit 7,000 crashes in early 2018.

In 2016, I handled 470 collisions that included 7 fatalities. My record month was 60 crash reports a few years ago in November. It turned out that December of 2016 went down as the second most for me at 59!

Here’s the worst part about that statistic. I took two days off in December.

Be careful out there.

Thanks for reading and sharing Badge415

A dumb excuse

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A few weeks ago, it was a rainy Friday night when I heard one of the dumbest excuses ever.  It was 2AM when I arrived at a crash where an officer pointed to a driver and said he was unlicensed.

During the interview with the driver I asked, “Who owns the car you were driving?”

“My mom.”

“Does she know you don’t have a license.”

“Yeah.”

After I was done talking with the son, I spoke to mom.

“Did you know he is unlicensed?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Why did you let him drive.”

“He was practicing.”

Practicing? That was the best she could come up with ?

“In the middle of the night and in the rain?” I asked with a surprised tone in my voice.

In the end,  the car was impounded for 30 days. Mom and son both got tickets. Mom for allowing an unlicensed person to drive her car and son for being unlicensed. 

Here’s the ironic part. Mom was the one who called the cops because she thought the other driver was DUI…… He wasn’t. 

 

4Runner target practice

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On Thursday night, I responded to a hit and run call in an alley. When I arrived, I found a parked Toyota 4Runner with front end damage and the front bumper from the suspect vehicle on the ground right next to it.

Another officer advised over the radio that he was out with the suspect and the victim at a 7-Eleven parking lot about a half mile away. I interviewed a witness at the scene and then drove to the suspect’s location.

It turned out the suspect, who we’ll call Tammy, crashed into the parked 4Runner when she was trying to drop someone off.

Right after the collision, a vehicle drove into the alley and stopped. Coincidentally, it was the owner of the parked 4Runner, who just happened to arrive in the alley.

The guy got out of his vehicle and saw that his 4Runner was just hit. Tammy decided she was going to split and started to drive away. The only problem was that Tammy crashed into the guy’s other vehicle, which was also a Toyota 4Runner!

After the second collision Tammy fled the scene as the victim chased after her. She finally gave up and pulled over in the 7-Eleven parking lot.

What were the odds of the victim owning two 4Runners and having them hit by the same suspect in two separate collisions?

You just can’t make this stuff up.

A Christmas time knucklehead

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The other night it was raining cats and dogs when I was dispatched to a non-injury collision where both drivers pulled into a parking lot. When we arrived, the first priority was finding somewhere to be dry at.

I exited my car and took shelter under the overhang of a business. One of the involved drivers got out of his car in a huff and walked toward us as he sarcastically said, “I guess I’ll go over there.”

Duh!

The other driver got out of his car and walked over to where we were. He was calm, polite and looked like Santa Claus, except his white beard was on the short side. Santa stood by while I spoke to the knucklehead first.

“I already called my lawyer,” said the loud and obnoxious guy as he tried to sound like a big shot. Part of me wanted to ask him if his lawyer was going to handle the report also.

He then started to tell me what happened in his bully voice. During the story he pointed to Santa and called him a “faggot.” WTF? Where did this guy come from? His ignorance flowed from his mouth like a volcano spewing lava down the mountain toward the village.

At this point, my body worn camera was the only thing paying attention to him. I had mentally checked out as soon as he grunted and pounded his chest like a caveman.

I finally cut him off as I said, “You’re not helping here.”

The Santa hater snapped out of it and said, “I have anger issues.”

No shit.

When I was done I went over to Santa and listened to him tell his side of the story. Santa clearly didn’t have any anger issues. He was more of a jolly old guy. The only thing missing was a sleigh and Rudolph.

Do you have insurance?

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On Sunday night, I went to an injury crash where a truck turned out of a gas station driveway and hit a passing car. I pulled up and was met my a hysterical woman, who told me she was injured.

She was stressed and was running around like a chicken with its head cut off. A few minutes later she was on a gurney and placed into the ambulance. After she was inside the ambulance, I climbed in so I could speak with her.

I asked her what happened and she explained how the collision occurred. During the interview she kept saying, “He doesn’t have insurance.”

I hadn’t spoken to the other driver yet, so I asked, “How do you know?”

“He told me.”

“Do you have insurance?” I asked.

“No,” she said as she got quiet.

The insurance question now became the elephant in the room. Well, in the ambulance.

I said, “Oh,” as the word hung in the air a little too long. “Sooooo, you don’t have insurance and he doesn’t have insurance?”

That’s when the realization hit her that she wasn’t in good hands with Allstate and Nationwide wasn’t going to be on her side. Geico wasn’t even going to save her 15% on her car insurance.

It was almost like the Price is Right loser theme song was playing in the background at that moment.

Talk about a bad day. 

Could it be any closer?

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Starbucks and Subway in the background

On Friday night, I drove to my favorite Starbucks to type reports and grab a drink. I was even feeling adventurous and got a chicken and artichoke panini.

I ate my sandwich and had my drink as I typed at the same time. My fingers were hitting the laptop keys with the effortlessness of a pianist playing Rhapsody in Blue.

Thats when it all came to an end when another injury crash went out down the street. The location of the call was maybe 150 yards away. At least it was close. It’s the little things, right?

I gathered all of my paperwork, got my drink and walked out to my car. I pulled out of the parking lot and saw that the crash was much closer than 150 yards. It was more like 100 feet away. It actually took me longer to get my stuff and walk out to my car than it did to drive there.

I parked my car in the middle of the street with my overhead lights on and called for a tow truck. I interviewed the drivers and wrapped it up pretty fast. After the tow truck was done cleaning up I went back to my Starbucks staging area. The Barista said, “You’re back already?”

“Yes, and I’ll take another black tea.”

“It must be new”

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The other night, I went to a call where a car crashed into a railing in a cul-de-sac. When I got there, There was the car, a damaged railing and a tire that was torn off from the impact.

There was a small park at the end of the cul-de-sac that separated an industrial area from a neighborhood. This particular neighborhood was like an island with its own run down looking store that was at least 60 years old.

I asked the driver what happened and he gave me a lame story about traveling to the neighborhood market and not knowing there was a dead end street here. I looked over at the marker and of course, it was closed.

The street he was traveling on happened to be a straightaway that was at least .3 miles long.  It was the prefect street for a race.

I asked him what city he lived in, where he grew up and if he’d been to this store before. It turned out he had been to the store before and he grew up very close to the collision scene. In other words, he was familiar with the area.

After hearing that I asked, “You didn’t know there was a cul-de-sac here?”

“It must be new.”

How dumb. This street had been like this for over 20 years. Nice try kid. You lost the race and you need a new tire.

He should probably change his Facebook status to “walking.”