Left in a Heap in Stoughton

June 18th, 2010 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

Bloodied, befuddled, bruised, but living, I arrived back home Saturday to cook for a dozen guests. It was after all my 10-month-old grandnephew’s day. This was his dedication — the UU version of a Christening, with a minister but without the trappings of removing demons or reserving a spot in the next world.

I escaped after being flung to the pavement with my bike by a hit-and-run driver in Stoughton.

The ride was an aging Boomer’s wont. I figured if I’d drink and eat well, I should sweat off calories in advance to earn it. The healthier choice might have been to sit on the deck and wash down junk food with beer. I don’t think crazed scofflaws would have driven to the back to get me.

Put me in the bucket of those with little tolerance for rants about how dangerous cyclists are — to pedestrians, cars, trucks, trolleys and themselves. Facts are that inattentive and even malicious drivers maim and kill others by the thousands every year. I’ve had my share and am tired of it.

About 15 years ago, an unlicensed, unregistered and uninsured young woman floored her car turning left and broadsided me. I can still hear the shouts and scream of the bystanders to her. She apparently was looking at and talking to her baby at the moment. The minimum-wage Filene’s clerk got a nominal fine and nothing else. I had broken fingers, a serious concussion and a ruined bike and helmet. The judge wouldn’t punish her and there was nothing to get were I to sue, said a lawyer.

A few years ago, one of those massive pickup trucks jumped a red light and hit me, also broadside. This was a damaged wheel and broken wrist.

Six days ago, I was only 10 or so miles from home when the hit-and-run coward clipped my butt and side mirror, knocking me with great force to Route 138. The cop who showed a few minutes afterward concurred that there was no way he didn’t see me and no way he would not have known he’d hit me.

Pix click trick: Click an image for a larger view.

visibilityFor the obviousness factor, since I was hit by the clerk, I dress for safety. My bike is bright yellow. My helmet is metallic blue. I was wearing a bright orange shirt. I’m nearly 200 pounds and six feet tall. I have gigantic shoulders and chest. At 11:30 a.m. there I was in my colorful glory.

A few schools, including Harvard, have veritas (truth) as their motto. My cycling version could well be visibilitas (visibility). I’m not one of those arrogant loonies who wanders behind cars backing up in the store lot thinking, “Oh, he’ll see me.” I try to make sure drivers see me. In fact, one my cycling guidelines is not riding on a day when I wouldn’t be able to see the face of a truck or bus driver because of sleet or snow or rain, figuring the driver might not see me.

Yet there I was on 138 headed north. The police report says it happened at 217 Washington Street in Stoughton. That’s across from X&O, the restaurant/bar.

Many cars turn in there and my amateur wreck reconstruction would have me in the shoulder/bike lane to the right of the fog line. That’s where I travel whenever I can and  there I can. I did not see the hit, but I sure felt it and the grapefruit-sized bruise on my left haunch as well as the destruction of my mirror at the same height suggest the side view mirror of the car did the damage.

That would put the driver maybe passing a left turner without looking ahead or to the right and coming over into the shoulder to hit me. It’s possible the driver did the damage without passing a turning vehicle, but I’ll stick with Occam’s razor on this one.

Wave the hands. Then magical things happen. Apparently I was either in shock or had a mild concussion. The next I recall is speaking to a nice and sharp and concerned Stoughton cop. 217

The magic was that according to the police report read to me today over the phone, I spoke with the fire department’s EMTs and the officer, whom I found out is Neal David. I refused a trip to the hospital, told them I did not see the car or driver or license number. I also provided my name, phone and other vitals as though I was functioning. I have no recollection of any of that.

I do remember speaking a bit with Officer David when I gained my awareness. He was angry and regretted not seeing the hit so there would have been no running. He’s not much for irresponsible scofflaws.

Perhaps I should have been checked out as a preventative, but really, short of bleeding brains (no helmet damage or other indicators) and the like, there’s not much an ER can do in such cases except consume 4 to 12 hours of your time. I had food to prepare, wine to chill, and clothes to dress myself in to assume the role of godfather

About two hours north on what appears to be a pretty undamaged bike, my head cleared more. I had images of being hit, but still didn’t see the car — I was compelled to the right and down away from the impact.

It was as I defogged that I was aware that I had not been aware. There was a missing block of minutes, while I appeared rational to the authority types. I suppose that’s what training and hormones can do.

I had a pretty ripped up knee, that big butt bruise with a lot of related muscle pain, and scrapes on my right forearm and elbow. william

Calling today to find out the specifics that I did not recall, I had a brief fantasy. Officer David said that sometimes witnesses call in to report details. My thought was that the hit-and-run driver might not have been amoral and devoid of compassion. Perhaps as Polybius wrote, “There is no witness so dreadful, no accuser so terrible as the conscience that dwells in the heart of every man.” and someone came forward to ‘fess up.

…wrong on both counts.

That’s a very busy stretch of road. Apparently I was in a heap beside the road, bleeding and dazed. No one ID’ed the driver and no one stopped to see to me. The timeliness of the police coming by was Stoughton’s humanity.

What could I expect. This was Stoughton, not Samaria.

Glibness aside, I could easily have died from being hit from behind by a one to two ton vehicle. That I was in the right would not have counted for anything. My death certainly would have inconvenienced and upset those gathering for William’s day.

It does little good too to ask what sort of person would drive inattentively? would hit and run? would leave a body in the road? I think we all know about disregard for others, poor upbringing, disdain for laws, and amorality. Such a person is not even worthy of cursing. Yet, part of me does hope that Polybius was right.

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5 Responses

  1. craig says:

    Glad to hear that you are OK!

    I feel for you. I got hit up in Wakefield last May and took most of the rest of the month to recover to the point where I could get on the bike. Mine was a hit-and-run as well except for one caveat: the woman got out of her car to scream at me before getting back in her car and leaving me bleeding in the street. Talk about compassion for your fellow man and a common sense of decency. Maybe she had the same upbringing as your driver. Good thing she did though, a bystander got her plate number and passed it along it along to a State Trooper who was all too happy to swing by her house and arrest her in front of her kids and impound her car.

    As far as refusing treatment, I don’t think that is ever a wise option following an accident where you were not at fault. It can only compound things if there are health issues down the road that can be traced back to your accident. After my accident, I was pumped with adrenaline and was ready to hop back on my bike. I took a ride to the ER instead and was laid-up for a week from severe back and wrist pain after the excitement wore off and the pain creeped in.

  2. Uncle says:

    I may have asked you this before, but have you ever read Ballantine’s Bike Book? Apart from good mechanical advice, he states as revealed truth all that you’ve mentioned here. Go with the early editions, BTW: the later ones are a bit tamed. That advice has kept my accidents to the minimum of a couple of doorings, a head-on with the back of a pickup, a near miss or three with pedestrians and the guy who waved a gun at me when I passed him. Paranoia has its benefits.

    When you’re on two wheels, everyone on four sucks; which I remember when I drive.

    We assume that your head is still functioning as well as ever?

  3. Uncle says:

    And oh yeah: check the headset on the bike. I’ve found that’s where the surprises turn up.

  4. JJ says:

    Pursue the matter. The cars mirror was probably damaged, with the police put out a report to repair facilities for anyone coming in with a broken mirror. Was any paint scraped onto your bike? That would help as well. You could also check if there was a parking lot security cam that might have caught what happened.

  5. What happened to you is a prime example of criminal neglect and, in my opinion, the mark of a mad, lost mind. I cannot comprehend someone who would leave a body in the road, whether the driver knew he had hit you or not. I’m terribly sorry that had to happen to you, and on your grandnephew’s day no less. However, if you fear you’ve got a concussion, please don’t hesitate to go in to the emergency room in the future, as a concussion-related hemorrhage is nothing to play around with. I’m not an avid cyclist myself, but a friend of mine was until he got hit at sixty miles per hour at a four way crossroad. He lived through it, but without the use of his legs. Be careful, and I hope you don’t get hit again.

    Donald from How To Avoid Excessive Sweating

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