Not bothering anyone. Nope. It was about 4AM, the night was dead, and I'd just finished my reports and was on the way to the local Stop n' Rob to get a cup of coffee.
I was rolling down a highway, about to get off at the exit where the coffee was, when I saw headlights in my rearview. They were way back and had just been visible for a second when they'd crested a hill. I almost let it go, but since it was so slow out tonight, I pulled to the shoulder just before the ramp and doused me lights, figuring I'd at least check this guy's speed on my rear radar as he came past. If he was really speeding, I'd peg him. If not, at least one more guy would see that we actually ARE out here at night. So I waited that few seconds...
My radar unit screamed and nearly jumped off of the dashboard. 112 mph. Holy Shit! I turned my lights back on as the car rocketed past me and had just put my hand on the gear shift when he slid into the curve just past the exit ramp--a curve that was the reason for the speed limit in this area being posted at 50mph. And sure enough--going into the curve, he lost it. He skidded and slammed into the left side Jersey wall, hitting it hard enough to bounce off and spin completely across the two-lane highway to impact the wall on the right side. The car--a full-size Mercury Marquis--disintegrated before my eyes, car parts large and small flying everywhere.
I got on the radio and called out that I'd just witnessed a crash and that Rescue and additional police units were going to be needed, then I rolled up to the wreckage, expecting to find a dead moron or two.
A teenager got out of what was left of the car. He was a bit woozy, but actually appeared uninjured. "Inconceivable!" as Fezzini would have said.
I sat him down and had just started talking to him when everyone else started to show up. I smelled booze on him and when I asked him if he'd been drinking, he admitted it. He also did not have a driver's license. He was 18 and had never had one. The car was his sister's. Great. So much for getting off in two hours like I was supposed to.
Now I wanted to pop the little turd for DUI, but he quickly figured out the score and even though he'd told me several times that he wasn't hurt. he began asking to go to the hospital once I told him that he was going to be taken back to the station for a Breathalyzer. And of course as bad as the crash was, I couldn't deny him. So I let Rescue package his dopey ass up and he was probably thinking that he was getting over, not realizing that I'd be following him down there with a blood draw kit.
But first I had to deal with the questions from my peers.
"Dude--what were you chasing him for?"
Of course I hadn't been chasing him, but no one wanted to accept the fact that I'd just been parked on the shoulder when this goofball came by and coincidentally destroyed himself right in front of me. Cops being cops, everyone was jumping to the conclusion that I'd been chasing this kid without putting the pursuit out over the radio and only called in the wreck to cover my ass. I must have been asked at least once by every other cop who showed up. "What were you chasing him for? You know they're going to hammer you for chasing off the radio..."
I really can't blame them. I'd have had trouble believing my claim too. I mean, what are the odds?
Even my sergeant pulled me aside and told me that there were liable to be some questions later about my role in this, and that I might want to call up the shift union steward.
I finally exploded. "Look, dammit! I was NOT chasing this kid! I was really just sitting over there minding my own business! Hell--go to the hospital and ASK HIM! And do it before I get there so there won't be any question about him being coached! In fact, Sarge, I insist that you go ask him and get a statement from him right now."
My sergeant, being a good guy who takes care of his people, said that he would go over and do that just to make sure that nothing bad came down from the Monday morning quarterbacks at headquarters. I'd hoped that he would. I quickly grabbed a blood kit from my duty bag. "Oh--and while you're over there, would you be so kind as to get a blood draw for me?" I could play the game too. That just saved me about an hour and a half that I would have blown over at the hospital. Besides, I still had to document all of this carnage and I had some questions for the actual owner of the car.
The sister came to the station to talk to me just as I was finishing the crash diagram. And she was incredibly cooperative, admitting freely that she'd let her brother borrow her car and that she'd known that he did not have a license. She even said that she'd known that he was going to a party and figured that he'd be drinking. And all of those statements went into my report. I also cited her for allowing an unlicensed driver to use her car, and I found out later that based upon my report and the citation--which she paid (basically admitting to the charge)--the insurance company denied the claim on the car. It was only two years old. She also got a bill for damage to the Jersey walls, and that's never cheap.
Long story short, the kid did state that he'd been speeding long before getting to that curve, and he also stated that I was not chasing him and that he hadn't even seen me when he passed me. And his BAC turned out to be 0.21, so he got pegged for DWI, Underage Consumption, Reckless Driving in addition to Operating Without a License and Uninsured Motorist.
DISPOSITION: A plea deal where he took the DWI and OWL and got 15 days jail and no driver's license until his 21st birthday, with the judge telling him that if he got caught driving again before then, he could count on being locked up for at least thirty days.
And of course big sister was out a car that she was probably still paying on.
'Twas the Night Before Christmas.... Again....
6 months ago