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Friday, February 04, 2005

Why I Was Late For Work Today

So I usually commute via Santa Monica, but last night I finished listening to this audiobook, and the library wanted it back, so I figured I'd stop by the Durant branch on Sunset right before work.

So that was why I was on Sunset this morning, and that was why I saw the accident.

You know Cafe Mingo, that hot dog/burger stand at the top of Fuller, a couple of blocks west of La Brea?  With the red roof and the green iron-fenced patio?  Well, a corner of the metal fencework has now been crunched in.  Because a BMW right in front of me tried to cut off a Volvo in the third lane, and the two cars skid against each other. This caused the Volvo to veer off, run into this old Russian lady and her grocery cart, and then collide with the burger stand.  

I pulled over and got out of the car, because I'd only seen the lady for a second before she got hit and I thought I might have been seeing things. I wasn't. A nasty gash on her forehead, her legs bent wrong. One eye half-shut, the other open, thickly glazed with tears. She gurgled. We didn't move her.

Two people -- the Beemer driver, and another witness -- were already calling 911. Mr. BMW handed me his cell phone, asked me to talk to the dispatcher. I answered his questions, clarified the address, asked what else we could do.

The other witness had a clean towel in her car, for the gym. I started using that to try and stop the bleeding on her forehead. Twelve years of Girl Scout training. I don't know how much good it did, but the paramedics got there quick, cutting away the clothes that were in the way while I kept pressing the towel to her forehead. They cut away her blue cardigan, revealing the touristy Capri t-shirt she was wearing, a faded sailboat against yellow and blue horizontal lines.

I feel so morbid, writing this.

The cops asked us to move our cars into the nearby parking lot and wait to give our statements, and so I hung out with the other witness while she smoked a cigarette, the wind blowing the ashes into my face. She'd started smoking when she was a NFL cheerleader in Ohio -- the team was strict about their weight and the other girls all smoked in order to skip meals. Now she works on the show Girlfriends, acts. We talked a bit about sitcom life, and dieting.

"I was going to Burger King," she told me, "but I was going to be cheating, because I'm on this special diet. The gods are tryin' to tell us something, huh?"

"Yeah. The gods are trying to tell me that I shouldn't return things to the library."

We laughed. Our hands shaking.

There's a box on the witness information card for the officer to jot down "Personal Oddities." I saw my witness information card, and I was kinda gratified to see that that box was blank.

When I talked to the traffic investigator, he asked me if I'd seen the drivers get out of their cars. When I said that I wasn't sure, he wasn't pleased. "You should be sure to pay attention, next time you witness an accident, to who comes out of which car. It's real important for us to know who was driving."

"That's good to know, sir, but I'm really hoping there's not a next time."

"Well, you do live in LA."

The woman was in critical but stable condition, last I heard. The cops were very interested in her condition. Whole different ballgame if she doesn't make it.

The other witness saw the Volvo hit the lady, but I was the only one to see the cars actually collide. I've got the traffic officer's business card, and I'm going to call later, to find out if I'm the main witness to a manslaughter case.  

All because some asshole wasn't paying attention, and tried to swerve into an occupied lane.  

Please don't drive like assholes, folks. It's just not worth it.  

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