The Lady in Blue
Collision with The Lady in Blue
So I have been in the "slow lane" for miles, preferring to drive slower and safer with the rain and all the whackos driving like there is no such thing as "hydroplaning". Arena Drive and I am already in far right lane, come over the rise, see traffic backing up at the 495/50 interchange; Washington to the West (19B) and Annapolis to the East (19A). I tell Coletta, "Looks like another backup, but there's our exit, we won't have to deal with the mess." I look in my rearview and seeing no one behind me ease off the gas, then start applying the brakes lightly as I approach the red brake lights ahead of me. I glance in my mirror again, and there she is. A gold Cadillac Escalade bearing down on me...fast. I ease off the brakes, keeping one eye on the cars in front of me and one in my rear view. "We're gonna get hit," I warn Coletta and two seconds later CRASH! The impact throws me forward HARD, but I have been keeping a safe distance between me and the car in front, so I am safe, but hit my brakes and pull to the shoulder on my right. My car is going, "Shoom, shoom, shoom, shoom."
I get out, cars are speeding past. This is D.C. NOBODY stops in D.C. they keep flying by. The Cadillac also pulls to the shoulder her left front fender caved in, the hood buckled where she hit the right rear of my pickup truck. My tail light is gone, tail gate crumpled, bumper missing under the fender. The rear wheel well has collapsed and the mud flap is up against the tire (hence the shoom, shoom). I take my foot and try to push it back, but there's a metal "L" bracket that is holding it fast. This truck is not going anywhere, and I'm 60 miles from home. Only a mile from the exit, but STUCK ON 495. You have heard about being "inside the beltway" well I am right there on the buckle.
Here is where the fun begins. What I might call a comedy of errors, but I was in no laughing mood. I dial 911. My GD iPhone, which has been dropping calls cuts out mid-call. I grab Coletta's and dial again. Ready for this...911, I get a recording. "Due to unusually high 911 calls we are unable to take your call. Leave your name and number and a short message." I leave my message. Her phone rings, I pick it up. My phone rings, Coletta picks it up. We are now BOTH talking to live people in the call center. When they figure we are both in the same accident, SAME car they suggest one of us hang up. I hang up Coletta's phone, she hands me mine and I complete the call. A Maryland State Trooper is en route.
The Lady in Blue....
I grab my iPhone and exit my vehicle, to take shots of my damage, and walk over to the Cadillac to take some of hers, and license plate. Just in case. She is remaining in her car. I say hers, because the woman, and how do I describe her without appearing racist?? I will do my best. She is a late 40's early 50's African American woman with what could best be described as a "Full Figure." Very full, to the point of overflowing in her skin tight BRIGHT blue knee-length dress and matching high heel shoes. She is completely ignoring me as I take photos right next to her . She has not come out of her vehicle to ask if I am all right or is my passenger is okay. I return to my truck. I grab a piece of paper and pen, exit my vehicle again, and walk around to her passenger door. I stand there. She is very... animated, shall I say. I wait until she puts her cell phone back on the dash. She has not acknowledged me, so I reach up and pull her passenger door open. I am greeted with, "Shut MY DOOR!" "M'am, I need to get your information." I hold up my paper and pen. Even louder and more assertive: SHUT...MY...DOOR!" I comply and decide I am done with her, I will wait until the police are on scene. (THIS WOMAN CRAZY!)
The Cavalry Arrive
4:05 I return to my truck. Fifteen to twenty minutes and the State Police arrive. Driving is a young attractive female African American officer ( Trooper Ingram) and 40 something Caucasian male Trooper riding shotgun. Tpr. Ingram approaches me, he approaches the other driver. I tell her what happened and hand her my license, registration, and insurance card. She asks me to return to my vehicle which I do.
What happens over the next two hours is a lot of stuff, here are a few vignettes:
I remain in my truck, the "Lady in Blue" (LIB for short) is arguing with both of the officers, animated, agitated and lots of pointing and body language.
Tpr. Ingram approaches my truck, I roll down the window, she hands me my license and registration and insurance card and tells me that the LIB will be cited. "Thank you" I say. I ask the officer about a tow truck and she tells me, "Sir if we call one it will cost you a great deal. If you have insurance I would suggest you call them and let them arrange that. I thank her and call my AMICA agent. That takes about 10-15 minutes. She indicates she will contact one of their contracted tow trucks, they will tow my vehicle to their facility for overnight and tomorrow I can call to arrange to have my vehicle towed across the Bay Bridge to my body shop. The tow operator will call or text me his ETA.
4:30 LIB is still arguing with the Troopers. They follow her to my vehicle and are inspecting the damage to my vehicle, I remain in my car. This woman CRaZy. Let them deal with her.
5:00 Ofc. Ingram approaches, "Sir I am going to have to cite you as well." "For what?" I ask. "She rear-ended me." "She is claiming that you ran into her, and to avoid any suggestion of impartiality I am citing you both for Failure to control speed to avoid a collision. That way it's out of our hands and the court can decide." Can you show me where she says I hit her? " I ask, and she tells me, “After you sign the citation that you will answer this summons." I sign, she walks around the passenger side of the truck bed which is significantly buckled out from the collision. "She pointed out this dent and says, “ This is where she says you hit her." "Excuse me,” I tell Tpr. Ingram, “ But this is not a dent, but buckled from where she drove the bed of the truck forward. There is no paint there from her car. Can you note that in your report?" "I can only report what I see, sir, and there is damage to the side where she says you hit her."
How do we get home?
I don't argue. I go back to my car, ask Coletta who we can call to come get us, she says TONY. I call Tony G. and he agrees to come to the crash site to offload our luggage and take us home. I tell Coletta about the woman's claim.
ETA for tow truck was 5:30, it's now 6:00, the owner tells me he can transport our vehicle straight home instead of to the storage facility. Can we catch a ride with the tow truck. Yes! I call Tony, he is at Kent Island I save him 45 minutes of driving tell him we have a ride. He doesn't have to come get us. "Are you sure?" "Yes thanks!"
Coletta says, “The guy in the tow truck called back and said we have to pay for the tow across the bridge. Do you have money to pay for it, I only have six dollars. " I call AMICA, to ask if I have to have the truck towed to the storage first THEN to my body shop to have it covered. "Let me check." ....."No, you can have it taken straight to your body shop, it's covered."
I tell Coletta, "See there's no problem with the “tow across the bridge," "I didn't SAY TOW, I said TOLL! Toll across the bridge.We have to pay for the TOLL across the bridge.” "Why would you be worried about the TOLL?” I ask her, “It’s only 5 bucks! Jeeze."
Tow truck dispatcher calls back. "Sorry but we can't take you both across the bridge because my driver has someone with him and there is only room for three in the truck." " WHAT? I just called and told my friend to go home, we NEED to ride with your driver!" "Give me a minute, I'll call you right back." He does, it's okay, we can catch a ride.
(Turns out the driver, a talkative young man in his 30's called his girlfriend and asked her if she wanted to ride over to the Eastern Shore with him. "GOODY, I love the Bay Bridge!" He apparently called and told her sorry, honey...no room.)
Our driver arrives (ahead of LIB's) so I am happy. The white officer comes back and I chat with him about the claim I hit LIB. He tells me, "Sir, you may have noticed that the other driver kept us in the rain arguing for some time. I told her the damage to the side of your truck bed was caused by the impact that drove the bed into the cab, but she was not accepting it. We agreed to take it out of our hands and allow it to be settled in court. Did Tpr. Ingram explain that to you?”
We rode home, dropped our truck off at our body shop about five minutes from our home, and called the neighbor to meet us there. He took us home.
Stay tuned for more exciting chapters:
The Adjuster's Decision - Totaled or Fixable and how much?
The People's Court. The Lady in Blue against the Frankenator.
To-taled or Not To-taled?
So today...the appraiser at my body shop (Wayside) looked at my truck and asked me, "What were you doing backing UP the Beltway and running into that poor woman?' He clearly agreed with me that the buckled fender was a result of the rear end collision when she hit me. When the appraiser from my insurer (AMICA) saw the truck bed, he said the same thing, it was obvious a result of the impact from her car pushing the truck bed into the can causing it to buckle.
I also got a call from her insurers, GEICO, who took my statement and asked if I could share my photos with them, which I did tonight. And, since my computer is back on line here are two photos for you to inspect and decide who YOU think is at fault in this rear end collision. FYI I was in the far right lane for five miles and only left it AFTER she hit me.
Got another call from GEICO Agent who represents the woman who hit me. Apparently her version is quite different from my own. She says she was minding her own business in the far right lane, and I changed lanes in front of her hitting her. Funny that the damage is not to my right front fender or passenger door or even the bed of my pickup (other than the buckled fender from the rear end collision), but to my tail light while her damage is to the front of her car. Funny but looking at the extent of the damage to her front end I must have 1) pulled into her lane 2) stopped dead in front of her, and 3) shoved my truck into serious reverse. Really folks you don't get that kind of damage from an event when someone pulls in front of you and your touch fenders.
Anyway GEICO says they are not assuming liability, since her version is so different than mine. Have to wait to see what the judge says. So much goes to credibility, and who the court believes. I have full confidence I will prevail.
Had an epiphany about the accident: When you consider the extent of damage to her front end, she had to be going a lot faster than me, a lot faster than her 5 mph bumper could handle for sure. So...if she was driving FASTER than me, how is this that she alleges I was passing her?
So yesterday I went to my primary physician to document my status in the event there are any additional physical effects from our collision on May 22. To be honest, I felt okay on scene, but then I had more than a little adrenaline pumping through this old carcass. Something about seeing a large SUV hurling at you at a high rate of speed that does that. I have a touchy back anyway, but after a lifetime of living with it, protecting it, I KNOW this is different. The pain is deeper, lower and longer. This has been almost ten days, and I still take it easy getting out of bed or completing routine tasks. I also have a sore neck and headache on only one side of my head at the left temple. My doctor poked around and found sensitive spots I didn't know I had. Coletta sees her primary this week and then our attorney (yes we now have one) wants us seen at his clinic.
The Police Report
TodayI went to a neighboring town where the closest State Police Barracks is to get a copy of the Police Report. Here is what transpired. I had called to find out what codes/ case numbers/citation numbers etc. went where on the FORM 2 Maryland State Police Request for Police Report. "Sir, you can mail it in with your $4.00, or just stop by and pick one up here at the Barracks." Trouble is that's over an hour away. When I tell her this she asks me where I live and tells me there is one 15 miles away. I opt for that one. "Yes sir, they can print one right there for you. The report is complete and ready to be printed." I thank her and plan to stop by the Easton MD. Barracks.
I park, walk into the vestibule from the outer door, and open the inner door. "Can I help you?" comes from a gruff sounding voice somewhere in the inner bowels of the Duty Desk. I walk up, peer through the smoked glass and there sits Sgt. Jarhead himself. "I need a copy of a police accident report," I tell him. "Did you call ahead to have one printed out?" he asks me. "Uh, no they just directed me to come here with my information sheet, and you would print one out for me," I tell him. "What's your number?" I look up top and read it to him, then just hand him the information sheet. He takes it, and spends a few minutes tapping keys. Has not spoken since he asked me for my number (and he is definitely NOT my type).
Silently he finishes pecking, pushes back from the desk, walks into the back section and brings back a sheet of paper or two which he staples together. Without making eye contact he says, "Four dollars, check or money order." I tell him I don't have my checkbook, I'll just pay in cash. He repeats, "Four dollars, check or money order." I feel like screaming, "I'M NOT DEAF I DON'T HAVE A CHECK OR MONEY ORDER!" but this guy is armed with a 9mm, so I keep my cool. "I live in Denton," I tell him, 15 miles 25 minutes away. "And...." he replies stoically . "You mean I have to drive 30 minutes to go home and get a checkbook?" No answer. "I don't suppose you take plastic?" I suggest. No answer. "Do you know where I can get a money order?" I ask him. "We don't have that information, you can look that up online," he intones. "Jeesh, I left my computer at home," I tell him as I walk out the door. "We'll hold it here at the desk," he tells me.
I get in my car, drive two minutes down the four-lane limited access highway to Royal Farms and walk in. There's a line. Some old fart is laying dollar bills on the counter to buy his weekly supply of Lotto Tickets. Three other people are waiting in line. Over the counter is a sign; MONEY ORDERS in big letters. That was a relief. Finally it's my turn, I tell her I need a money order, she asks how much, I tell her four dollars, and she tells me that will be four dollars and 99 cents. I hand her a five, she hands me back a penny. (A Canadian penny at that!) I grab my money order and am out the door.
Sit at the light to ease my way onto the four lane, get a quick left turn arrow and I am on my way back to Easton Barracks. I pull in, walk up to the building, walk through the first door, pull on the second...LOCKED. You have got to be kidding me. I was just here ten minutes ago. I look around, see the CALL Button, and lean on it. I hear a BEEEEP and the door unlocks. "Can I help you?" It's a young woman with enough cleavage to store a roomful of files and forms. "I was just here a few minutes ago and the desk sergeant printed out a Police Report. "$4.00 check or money order," she recites rote-like. "I have a money order, " which I hand her. "You need to fill it out, sir," she says like I'm stupid or something. "Uh, who do I make it out TO?" I ask. "Maryland State Police." Logical. I do, and Sgt. Bilko is back, she hands me over to him. He tears off the receipt hands it to me, still no words, much less any eye contact. He looks around to find the report he just printed out, it's already buried in stacks of paper. He finds it, hands it to me. Tune in tomorrow to find out Part Two. The Question: "Sir, can I ask you a question....