Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wishing I'd have been a better bystander

I've mentioned before the troubles I have with cell phone reception at my home. So, while on my way home last night I pulled into the parking lot of the Kenwood Super One shopping center - one of the last, best places to get a clear signal - to place a few calls.

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.


christina said...

It begs to be repeated. The weirdest stuff happens when you are around.
My favorite part is the part where you go to Taco John's.

Beverly said...

I thought you were going to find him at Taco John's, eating a churro, maybe.

Krupskaya said...

The Taco John's part made me cackle.