in Personal

Hit and Run

I was driving in Palo Alto with 2 of my kids in the car heading towards Fry’s, looking to get the largest monitor I could reasonably buy.  I was driving down one of the many fairly narrow 4-lane side streets, heading towards El Camino Real when a driver pulled into my blind spot.  With a block-and-a-half to go to the red light, the driver very slowly started to overtake me… then he started edging into my lane.  I honked and edged up and over to give me some space… with now much less than a block to go the driver suddenly floored his vehicle and came over into my lane (his lane was ending quickly, being filled with large yellow Caddie parked at the light).  I hit the brakes but couldn’t get any more over (no shoulder, sidewalk full of telephone poles and other crud).  Crunch… I was fairly certain he had hit the Caddie, and I knew he had hit me.

I checked my kids, all ok.  I looked out the window at the other car & the Caddie.  He was between the Caddie and me, and was trying to back down the street – but got blocked by cars coming up behind him.  He stopped moving and started getting out of his vehicle, so I took a breather and got a clearer look – there were lots of cars, lots of honking; my car looked drivable and in the way and there was a Jiffy Lube at the corner, so I waved to him and rolled around the corner and parked.

I got out and headed over to his car… and he was busy yelling and screaming at the Caddie driver (who had been parked at a red light the whole time!).  He looked at me and got back into his car and rolled up to light and around the corner, clearly to join me at the Jiffy Lube… and took off instead.  Gone.  I was dumbfounded, and stood looking at his vanishing car like an idiot.  One of the Jiffy Lube guys came up to me and asked if I was ok; I nodded and went over to check out the Caddie guy.  He was a timid old man and was really shook up by the screaming-at he just had.  It was clear his vehicle was blocking the road and looked untouched.  I stuck with him until he felt better, then he got in his car and drove off.  I walked back to mine to survey the damage and double-checked the kids.  Sure enough, a big dent with lots of missing paint.

Then the Jiffy Lube guy volunteered that he had heard the crash, had come around the corner, had watched the driver chew out the Caddie… and decided the driver looked “off”.  He had the plate number written down and encouraged me to call the cops.  So I did; and sure enough in about 5 minutes a Palo Alto policeman showed up.  He was very polite and called in the plate#, and started taking statements.  In another 10 minutes he reported that they had caught the guy!  Then he offered me a chance to eye-witness the driver where they had stopped him… so I followed the cop back across Palo Alto and did a slow drive-by… and indeed it was the same guy.  They offered me the chance to press charges – but they also reported he didn’t seem drunk/drugged – so I decided to do this with just insurance instead.  Maybe he was just having a bad day.

Today AllState came out and looked at my car, and hauled it off to the body shop.  Maybe in a week I have a car with a fresh paint job?  Kudos to the Palo Alto police department; that was quick work catching the guy.  Kudos to the Jiffy Lube guy who had the brains to get the plate number.  And I did eventually get my monitor.

You didn’t think I was going to talk about technology, did you?

Cliff