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October 7th, 2006

Crash

We went grocery shopping late this afternoon, to get us some side dishes for the food our next door neighbor gave us for dinner this morning (which is a whole other story).

It was supposed to be a short trip, but turned into a longer adventure because we kept thinking of other things we needed. On the way home, we turned onto our street only to be confronted by a sea of flashing red and blue lights. The street was blocked off by a police car; we went around the block to come at the house from the other direction, only to find another police car. Rolling down my window, I told the officer I lived in the middle of this block and was there any way I could make it to my driveway. "Not really," he said, "seeing as there's a wrecked car right about in front of your driveway that they haven't removed yet. Make a U here and just park here on the street until it's all cleared up." And so we did, carrying with us the frozen and refrigerated grocery items and leaving the rest behind for later.

We could tell this was no ordinary wrecked car, because most everyone was out of their houses, standing on the sidewalk, watching the goings on. And sure enough, right in front of our driveway was a really quite amazingly smashed up SUV. Most of the right front was missing, and the engine was off its mounts and lodged somewhere between the wheel well and the passenger compartment. Coolant and oil were everywhere, and there was quite a lot of grass and dirt lodged underneath it. Police and city workers were everywhere.

After putting groceries away, I went back outside to see if I could learn anything else. I was afraid this vehicle had struck one of the trees in the yard, but that wasn't the case. By coincidence, standing in my front yard was Brandon, my city council representative, whom I know. He'd been going up and down the street passing out voter registration forms when it happened, and had the story.

The SUV and another vehicle, a white minivan, had been drag racing down the street (although upon thinking later about what might have transpired, I have to wonder if this wasn't more a case of "Fuck you, you're not passing ME, asshole" road rage that became a de facto drag race). It's a two-lane street, but they were side by side in each lane anyway, allegedly at nearly highway speeds. They both blew through the stop sign at the end of my block, and then their luck ran out. The SUV collided head-on at high speed with a victim car with four people in it, then lost control, went off the street up into the parkway on the south side of the street (fortunately for them, as the north side is all old-growth trees, cars, and houses). Eventually they careened back onto the street, struck another car at fairly slow speed right in front of our driveway, and stopped.

Then, apparently, all three occupants left the vehicle and started walking north on a side street. One of them was fairly badly injured, though, so they didn't get very far before they had to stop, at which point they were apprehended by the police and sent to the hospital.

The victim car was a horrifying sight; it was a fairly small sedan and its momentum was no match for the much heavier SUV traveling at a much higher speed. All four occupants were rushed to the hospital, including a woman who was 6 months pregnant. The second victim car apparently was in good enough shape to drive away.

The white minivan also involved in the drag racing never stopped. I didn't find out if anyone was able to identify it.

Half an hour after we got home, they re-opened the street. There's still a huge amount of glass and plastic car parts down the street from the house; in front of it are big piles of absorbant material keeping the coolant and oil from running into the storm drains.

We were pretty rattled for a while; Susanna had a good friend killed in a car wreck as a teenager, and I couldn't stop thinking that if we'd made the quick grocery store trip we thought we were going to, well, we could easily have wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I took a few pictures of the SUV with my phone's camera; it was dark, but they came out better than I thought they would. The vehicle looks either red or purple depending on which flashing light on the police car nearby was on at the time; emergency vehicle lights were providing the only illumination.

pictures behind cutCollapse )

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Charley

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