Monday, July 20, 2009

An Accident That May Save a Life

The Iraq 2009 adventure has begun and not on the best of notes.  I’m currently in Kuwait trying to get the proper paperwork to allow me to get to Baghdad.  It might happen by tonight, but I’m not counting on it.  I’ll post more details about that later.

This post is about an incident that happened last week and will continue to play out over the next two.  While I was in Texas, Dr. K’s car got side-swiped while it sat parked on the street in front of our house.  We have a house in a very old part of the Queen City and ours does not have a driveway or garage.  We’ve been parking on the street without anything worse than an occasional break-in for over a decade now.

That changed on Wednesday morning when my wife saw the damage to her car.  She did the right thing and called the police.  While the police were there, the couple from next door came out and the woman said that she had seen the accident around 8:30 the evening before (still light in NC).  She gave a description of the car and how the driver had stopped briefly after the impact and then sped away.  Dr. K was a little dumbfounded that this neighbor failed to call the police or call our house or at least knock on the door but we weren't there and don’t know what may have distracted her.  The police estimated the bent sheet metal, scratches, broken mirror and ruined molding would cost about $1200 to fix.  In other words, the damage was significant but wasn’t horrible.

Dr. K left me a message explaining what had happened so that I didn’t worry when I saw the damage.  When I did get home that night we talked about all that had happened, but we knew that there was probably no way to catch the person at this point.

Fast forward to the next afternoon as I arrive home from work.  Another neighbor, this one is the nice lady from down the street, calls my name and hurries up to my house.  What she had to tell me was almost unbelievable.  She had seen and heard enough to know who hit my wife’s car.  It was the friend of a teenager that lived at the end of our block.  Nice lady remembered the car from the girl’s birthday when the friends decorated it with condoms among other things. Kids these days!

A few minutes later, Dr. K and I are headed down to the house on our block just in time to see the girl get into her car preparing to leave.  We stop her and have a chat with her.  The poor little girl starts shaking like a leaf and basically spills the beans on her friend giving up her name and cell phone number.  The last name is very uncommon so we take that back and before I can warm my seat back up, I’ve got her father Googled, identified, and on the phone.  The girl does not live with her father so he didn’t know anything about an accident.  I was about to finish my conversation with him when there came a knock on our door. 

It was the girl, the hit-and-run driver, come to confess to the crime of which she had already been caught.  To her credit, she didn’t try to explain it away except to say that she was on her cell phone and wasn’t paying attention to driving.  She took responsibility and offered to do what she could to make it right.  She too was shaking and about to cry a couple of times but she held it together and Dr. K and I did our best to keep her calm.  We told her how impressed we were that she had come forward.  She’s just a kid and we had nothing to gain by chastising her.

After she left, I told Dr. K that I’m not upset with her in the least as I probably would have done the same thing back in my youth.  The Dr. told me that she was a little angry and that leaving the scene would never have crossed her mind.  I believe her.  That’s still how she is.  What would you have done?  It’s an interesting question that require some personal honesty.

Well, the estimates look more like $1600 and there will be charges for a rental car for a week or more, so the total damage to this young lady’s bank account will be somewhere around $2000.  It won’t feel like it to her, but that is still pretty cheap for such a big lesson.  If it causes her to put down the phone while she drives, this accident may have just saved her life.


Paula said...

You will have to let me know if the police are as nice about it as you are. Someday when you are really bored I'll tell you how the police here treated my son (16) who bumped into a set of mailboxes on his way to school and went back and fixed them when he got home.

Sean D said...

I think that if she slows down, doesn't text or pays more attention in the next couple of years, you may have saved some loved ones life.

You are a class act K.


and yet another reason why Dr. K is the Bombdiggity!