Accidents Do Happen But Negligence Never Should
I spent Sunday evening or rather Monday morning and through to Monday late afternoon, caring for a friend who was hit by a car while riding on her bike.
Yes, you heard that right. Hit by a car AKA Hit and Run.
Apart from all of the rage I mustered up inside while helping her to her couch to lay down, icing her leg and wrist, trying to get her breathing to slow down and keeping her warm as she was in total shock while also calling the police, trying to convince her she needed to go to the emergency room and texting mutual friends it was not too much of an ordeal. I have been down this road before with several people in my life. I was pretty calm.
Monday afternoon’s outcome was completely expected. Her arm is broken in two places with the bones splitting up the radius, she has joint damage, she will need surgery scheduled for next week and will have multiple casts for who knows how long after that. Undecided as of yet is will she have plates or bolts in her arm. And we haven’t even checked the leg yet.
There was a great deal to be angry about. The man who hit her – and he was a man, young, and she gave me a description which we forwarded to the authorities – was speeding some time before midnight through a Los Angeles residential neighborhood that has dedicated bike lanes. So although “everybody does it” at some point, driving over 30 miles per hour is just plain stupid in the dark where you know kids, teens, dogs runners and cyclists might be walking or riding now that school is out and the evenings are pretty warm.
She was wearing white and only driving at about a speed of 5 miles per hour and crossing through a well-lit intersection where it would have been very difficult, though not impossible, not to see her. And yet never-the-less, she got clipped and was thrown clear into the middle of the street.
Here’s where the story get good…this young man briefly opens the door of his car and barely steps out to ask if she is ok and then gets in and leaves.
He not only leaves, but leaves her without picking her up, propping her up, sitting her up or moving her to the sidewalk where she will not be further in harm’s way from other oncoming traffic…
1. lying in the middle of the street
3. in shock
4. at midnight
5. in the dark
6. crying and hyperventilating
7. purse, wallet, keys, cell phone all over the asphalt (some of which was never recovered)
He neither offered help, nor a name, nor called the authorities to even anonymously report an accident. He just left most likely feeling as though he dodged a bullet with insurance costs or a possible lawsuit. Maybe he was drunk. Maybe he was doing something else he shouldn’t have been doing. Maybe he just wanted to get home cause he was tired. Who knows.
She on the other hand is lucky to be alive as she was wearing a helmet which protected her when she slammed her head on the pavement. Don’t even ask how she has no concussion. But will be dealing with injuries for a very long time.
I myself am a cyclist. I ride about 20 miles a day for transportation often to save on gas. I am constantly harassed on the road, deal with terrible drivers who don’t ever pay attention to anything especially what is in front of them unless of course it is preventing them from getting into the mall entrance quickly or the 405 on ramp to get stuck in traffic. So although I say a little prayer every time I get on my bike, I still go out with the knowledge that I have to be extra careful. Accidents could happen. They often do. It sucks and most of the time it is not intentional. I certainly don’t know too many people who get in their cars and say,” yeah I can’t wait to hit someone today.”
However, when it happens, it’s not ok to walk away – no matter how scared of the consequences you may be. And often they are scary. In this case, my friend was luckily not unconscious. So there was no reason to be afraid to get out and help her. But he didn’t. He made an egregious and cowardly choice to simply not assist another human being. As if he had no responsibility for the act to begin with. Huh?
When I was little girl about 8 years old, my mother and I were driving home in the middle of the evening having just visited my godmother. We were suddenly flagged down by a young boy of perhaps 17 or 18, bleeding and begging for help. We stopped. We got out and went to the side of a very busy downtown thoroughfare in our neighborhood, where no other cars were stopping and found the body of this young man’s friend on the pavement, head split by a baseball bat and unconscious. It was frightening. This young man begged and pleaded to my mother for help and to not leave them. He was scared, injured himself and in shock.
So my mom said this, “I have to leave you in order to get help, but I am going to leave you with my most precious possession so that you know I will return. I am leaving you with my daughter. I promise I am coming back.”
And that is what she did. She left me with the instructions to keep talking to the unconscious boy and not to stop no matter what, fearful he would go into a coma. She, within a few minutes gathered some guys from the social club nearby and called the police and local fire station. That young man lived. We were later told by one of the firemen, because I kept talking to him and he heard the sound of my voice, it kept him alive.
I have never forgotten that. My mom, by the standards of today committed the most unthinkable act of leaving her daughter in the care of a stranger to save the life of another stranger for no reason except that they needed it.
In my friend’s case, no one it seems even brushed their curtains aside in the front window. And she had to have been loud. I heard her coming almost a block away not knowing why she was so upset and breathing so heavily. Oh yeah, on pure adrenaline of shock, she picked herself up and walked home with the bike at her side.
So, although, I offer a very extreme, circumstance as an example, there really is not excuse, to leave the scene of what is now being categorized as a crime, and not helping another human being in need. I’ve said it a lot in the last day or so…”it simply takes my breath away…the cruelty and disregard of some people.”
Well, one thing I am certain about is that the Universe has a very funny way of settling the score. And here’s why. Years later, my brother was hit by a car while walking home from high school. As he lay unconscious a woman ran over to him and sat with him and held him until help arrived. My mother later said God helped her son because she helped those boys. Neither of them was left alone.