I pulled into a parking space all by myself at the far end of the parking lot, near Arrowhead Road. On my third call, I was leaving a voice mail message when I looked up and saw a motorcycle - a super sports bike, a substantial, pretty nice one - driving in the lot toward Arrowhead, going very slow but weaving all over. And I saw a blue car in a designated driving lane coming generally in my direction - perpendicular to the motorcycle. Again, going very slow.
They got closer and closer - again, going like 5 mph - the cycle weaved sharply a couple times, and the rider - a college-aged guy with no helmet - laid it down and crashed into the front driver's side wheel of the passing car, maybe 30 feet from me. "Laid it down" is too strong a word - "fell over" might be a more apt description. Then the motorcycle rider got up and glared at the car. I thought to myself right away how that was just totally the motorcycle rider's fault.
So at this point I was still leaving my message. It was for a family friend I haven't talked to in a long time, whose mom is sick, and I was trying hard to maintain my composure and stay on-message as the surreal scene unfolded.
I was kind of bewildered and wrapped up the call as over maybe the next 10-15 seconds, the motorcycle rider went around to the passenger side of the car, opened the door and started saying / yelling something at the male passenger and female driver. My initial thought was that the two parties knew each other. In a momentary burst of extreme naivete, I actually thought, "well, that's not something a total stranger would do."
So I sat there, staring, jaw dropped. Then the motorcycle rider went back around, picked up his bike, wobbled on and started heading toward Kenwood Avenue. I snapped back into reality, got out and jogged to the still-stationary car. The driver got out. "Did you get his license plate?," she asked. Shoot! I could have, but I didn't. Now, in retrospect I don't totally regret not running out right away after the collision and getting it. The guy had just flung open that car door... had I run out and got his plate, he very well may have decked me. And I didn't know he was going to run until he was back up on his bike. But still, the whole thing happened so slow that I could have gotten it, and that bugged me.
Kind of charged with adrenaline and always ready for an exciting adventure, I said, "I'm going to go after him. I'll come back. Wait here." And I took off in my car toward Kenwood. The guy had a big head start, but I thought he might have pulled into a lot somewhere nearby to check his bike. No luck. I circled down Kenwood to Central Entrance, down Ninth/Eighth streets, around to College Avenue, through the UMD campus and back to the shopping center via Arrowhead - nothing. A few times I saw sports bikes parked in driveways, and circled back to get a better look, but they were not the one.
Back in the parking lot I left my name and number with the driver, and said I'd be willing to give a statement. We walked around to where the crash occurred, and I spotted a really nice, expensive Citizen watch on the ground - watch separated from wrist band, but still working - it had to be the bike rider's. I looked it over, thinking how awesome it would be if it were engraved, but it wasn't.
I left the watch with the car driver, then went off again for one more search. "Where would a college-age kid on a sports bike go after a hit-and-run accident?," I thought. For some reason, my mind returned an answer of: "Taco John's." So that's where I headed, to the strip of fast-food joints on London Road. I circled through there, back through the UMD campus and a few college neighborhoods - again, nothing. I went back home.
Later in the evening, I got a call from the police and gave a witness statement. I described what I saw, apologized for not being a better witness and closed by emphasizing again that this was totally the motorcycle's fault, and that the driver of the car was totally in the right. So I guess I was of some use. But I'm still wondering what might have been had I been a better bystander.