He was a train wreck

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On Wednesday night, I responded to a crash involving a single vehicle and a light pole near a train crossing. When I arrived, the railroad arms were down and a train was passing by.

The crashed car was just south of the railroad arms with major front end damage. I looked at the scene and noticed how close the car came to ending up on the tracks. That definitely would’ve been a new twist if it was struck by a train after knocking down a pole.

After I interviewed the driver, he stood by and made small talk as the world’s slowest tow truck man attempted to clean up. I pointed out to the man he was lucky he didn’t get hit by the train after he crashed into the pole.

I then added, “You would’ve been a train wreck.”

Groan……

At least Matt, the other cop, got it and laughed……

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.

People helping people

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What does a white driver with Nazi tattoos, a black witness, two Hispanic cops and an Asian bystander have in common?

Probably not too much, but add a car accident into the story and you have quite the combination of people.

One night, I responded to a hit and run crash where a car ran a red light and smashed into the victim vehicle. The victim driver was a white male in his 30s with Nazi tattoos on his face, neck and arms. A woman and a young child were also with him.

The witness was a black man in his early 50s and the other person was an Asian male, who didn’t see the crash, but stopped to help.

Then there were the cops. We were both Hispanic.

I interviewed the black guy first because he was the witness. He told me how the suspect run a red light and crashed into the victims. After the crash the suspect fled and he chased after the car until he lost it.

At the end of the interview, I shook his hand and thanked him for stopping. The man said, “We all work hard. We have to help each other out.”

Bingo.

Hopefully the guy with the swastikas on his face noticed that it was people helping people, no matter who they were.

It went over her head

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On Thursday night a woman said she was drinking from a bottle of water when she ran a red light and crashed into another car, causing water to splash on the inside of the windshield.

Sounds believable.

After the crash, she wasn’t able to see because of the water, so she drove almost a half mile to get out of the road.

Let me get this right. She couldn’t see because of the water on her windshield, but she was able drive away with two witnesses chasing her as they called the police about a hit and run?

She also spontaneously said she had looked up and saw the red light. I asked her a follow up question about looking up while she was drinking from the bottle. She then said she was opening the bottle of water instead of drinking from it.

She obviously hadn’t thought this through, so I decided to have a little fun with some obscure humor.

I asked, “So water splashed all over the windshield?”

“Yes,”

“Why didn’t you use the windshield wipers to see?”

“I didn’t think about that!” she replied excitedly.

Did she really just say that?

“They only work on the outside,” I said.

Then the dim light bulb went off when she figured it out. And when I say dim light bulb, I mean really dim……

Later on, I asked her what kind of insurance she had. She said, “Cost you less.”

“Well, keep driving like that, it’s going to cost you more.”

This call was one-liner heaven because she made it so easy. You just gotta have fun out here.

Keep your hands to yourself

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It was the late afternoon when I pulled up to a two-car crash at a busy intersection where a  fire truck was blocking the street and causing a huge traffic jam.

One of the drivers was being treated by fire personnel while he sat in his car. Both of his hands were bloody and I cringed at the thought of him handing his driver’s license to me.

After about ten minutes, the driver declined medical treatment and I interviewed him, along with the other driver about the crash. While I did that, another officer helped by writing the driver’s information on the collision report form.

A little while later, the motor cop held up the report form and said, “I have to redo it.”

I looked over at him as I wondered what he meant. That’s when I saw him holding a blood-stained report form in his hand as it blew in the afternoon breeze.

The cop told me bloody hands was standing next to him while he wrote down his information. That’s when bloody hands decided it was a good idea to point at something on the report form.

In horror, the cop tried to move his clipboard out of the way, but it was too late as the worlds largest drop of blood flew through the air and hit its bullseye.

Well, that was a first.  I’ve had coffee, water and food spilled on my report forms before, but never blood. What’s next? Vomit?

Keep your hands to yourself. I don’t know where they’ve been…..

 

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….