Last weekend, my boyfriend and I witnessed a hit-and-run collision. A car clipped a pedestrian in the crosswalk by the Gateway mall. I called 911 while my boyfriend did not administer first aid, because we don’t know the first thing about first aid. Thankfully, the guy was conscious and seemed stunned more than anything.
I said, “Did somebody get a look at the driver?”
To which this young woman standing to the side responded, “Yes, I was the driver.”
So it was less a “hit-and-run” and more a “hit and pull over and calmly wait for the ambulance to arrive in what can only be described as a completely responsible reaction to a bad situation.”
The paramedics showed up soon. Authorities interviewed the driver. An ambulance took the victim away, and all seemed well. But it was nerve-wracking.
I tried to use this story to teach my newly licensed teenage son that accidents can happen in a flash.
But his first question was, “Have you ever been involved in a hit-and-run?”
I wanted to lie. But the truth is, yes, one time I left the scene of an accident.
Here’s how it went down. I was a teenager (which should explain a lot). I was stopped at a red light, waiting to make a right turn onto Highland Drive. I didn’t realize my car was inching forward and the car in front of me hadn’t moved. Suddenly I felt the impact.
My heart sank as I saw the driver in front of me check me out in his rearview mirror. I’d only totaled one car before this. Other than that, and a couple of minor fender benders, I had a clean driving record. (Seriously, 16 seems too young to be driving.)
The car in front turned right, I could only assume to pull into a nearby grocery store parking lot and get out of traffic.
But the driver kept going. I followed, knowing it was my civic duty to call the authorities and exchange insurance info.
He didn’t stop. In fact, he increased his speed and got on the freeway. I finally gave up my chase, and I have to admit, I was mildly relieved. OK I was totally, completely, 100 percent relieved.
I was also very confused. Why would he run from something that was obviously my fault? Maybe he was a criminal with outstanding warrants? Maybe he was an immigrant who didn’t have proper documentation? Maybe he had O.J. Simpson stashed in his back seat? (This was around that time, after all.)
Once I got home, I dreaded seeing the damage to the car. I walked around to the front and inspected the bumper. But there was nothing. Not a scratch. I thought to myself, “Wow, Nissan makes strong bumpers.”
My sister came outside. She pointed toward the back of my car. “What happened there?”
I raced to the back and found some scratches and a dent.
“Did someone rear-end you?” she said.
I put my face in my hands, realization dawning. I wasn’t the perpetrator. I was the … perpetrated.
Someone had hit me from behind. I imagined what that driver behind me must have been thinking. They must have rolled forward while checking traffic to the left when they bumped into the back of my car.
I’m sure they thought I would pull over in a less congested area, but instead, I sped away. Like a criminal. Like I had something to hide.
I sighed deeply and closed my eyes. “Don’t tell Mom,” I said.
“Maybe,” my sister replied. She could be diabolical. I knew that at some point, she would demand a favor that I may or may not be able to deliver upon. Perhaps that sounds a little moblike, but that’s only because my sister could probably give any mob boss a run for his money.
All of these facts I admitted to my newly licensed son. He shook his head. “It’s a war zone out there.”
“Don’t you forget it,” I said.
He looked mildly scared.
I put my arm around him. “It’s going to be OK, because no matter what happens, I’m not buying you a car.”
Incidentally, for Christmas, he is asking for different parents.