Monday, May 3, 2010

Life's Lottery Winner

Besides stopping motorists for vehicle code violations, us motor types (at least in my department) handle all of the crashes, provided we are on duty. All crashes means, private property fender benders to fatalities.

I just happened to get dispatched to a report of a solo vehicle into a light pole. There were no further details as to injuries or if the vehicle and pole were blocking the roadway. As a precaution I requested through our dispatch center to have an ambulance started... just in case. Due to the lack of details, I responded with lights and siren and arrived in just a few minutes.

It had recently rained and this roadway is notorious for drivers going too fast on a slippery surface. Usually its a solo vehicle spin-out where the vehicle usually comes to rest against one of the curbs.... but not this time.

I get to the collision scene first and notice a small pickup truck had slid driver door first into a light pole. It was obvious that the light pole had won because it was still standing. The intrusion into the passenger compartment at the driver door was a good 18 inches.

It has been my experience that more times than not, this type of collision usually results in some type of injury requiring the driver to get an ambulance ride to the hospital and in some cases leaving the body in the vehicle as we investigate another fatality and call the coroner after we've wrapped up our investigation and forensic mapping of the scene (which can take hours depending on the complexity of the dynamics of the crash).

I was amazed to see the teenage driver standing, walking and talking with no injuries. I directed him to have a seat on the curb. He had a noticeable knot on the left side of his head as well as lots of broken safety glass from his door window. I let him know that I had an ambulance coming to check him out.

He asked me if the ambulance was necessary because he didn't have any health insurance. I told him due to the knot on the side of his head and the dynamics of the collision I wouldn't be canceling it.

He told me he had been visiting his sister at a coffee shop and was running late getting back to work. Of course he said he was going the posted speed limit of 30 mph when his truck "for no reason" began to slide out of control.

His mom and brother-in-law showed up at the scene. I let mom know that an ambulance was coming. She gave me the same song and dance about her son not having medical insurance, who by the way was only 17 years old. I told her she could take that issue up with the ambulance crew.

Brother-in-law happened to be an insurance adjuster and tried to talk me into canceling the ambulance. I asked him if his brother -in-law had some type of internal injury and latter fell out from it, who'd be responsible. His reply, "Me".

Yeah, right buddy. He obviously had a different take on reality and liability.

He kept trying to get the ambulance cancelled to the point that I had to tell him if he didn't get out of my face he'd be sitting in the back seat of a patrol car with a pretty set of linked "bracelets".

The teenage driver had no other apparent injuries other than the knot on his head. Mom signed the necessary form declining further treatment or transportation to the hospital thus releasing the paramedics from any liability.

The driver was unable to find a current insurance card for his pickup, but brother-in-law said he was the family insurance agent and could vouch for the pickup being insured.

Needless to say, after completing my collision report later during my shift, I completed the required paperwork and cited the driver for unsafe speed for conditions and no evidence of insurance at the scene of a traffic collision.

Cruel? I don't give young drivers any breaks. My hope is that they learn a lesson and improve their driving habits. There may be some nay sayer's thinking that by citing young drivers the only people really affected are the parents who pay the insurance premium. Thankfully in the jurisdiction where I work, the Judge who presides in our traffic court will not allow them to pay their fine and orders them to pay the fine by doing community service.

And just in case some of you inquisitive persons out there are wondering, yes my "no break" attitude includes young drivers who's parents are police officers and firefighters. I'm not going to give some young impressionable mind that they have a sense of entitlement and a "freebie" getting out of a ticket because of what their parent does for a living.


  1. wait wait wait... back the trolley up..

    you have an insurance adjuster/agent for a brother-in-law but you don't have health insurance... and if they kid is 17 shouldn't he be covered under the parent's insurance.

    *shakes her head* Crazy Americans ;)!


  2. @Jackie: You're assuming parents have insurance, which is pretty often not the case anymore. A halfway decent family insurance plan costs at least several hundred dollars per month. 90% of the jobs without health benefits don't pay anywhere near enough to afford it, and the jobs that do pay enough already come with health benefits.

  3. Sigh...I really need health insurance. I just can't afford it. However, I would never let my son go without it. He is covered under his father's.

  4. Kinda scary though that a mother who knew her son had a possible head injury which can be serious business as incidents like Natasha Richardson's death have shown us, wouldn't want him checked out.

  5. @*Goddess*:

    When a simple ambulance ride costs to the tune of $1500-2000 for those without insurance, tough decisions have to be made. IMO, the whole point of a pay-for-service healthcare system is let the customer (or the next one in the chain of command) to make the final decision, as opposed to the clueless insured people who have no idea what it's like out there until they are the ones who get laid off.

    Besides, it was just a simple head bump...

  6. Do you cite fellow police officers for unsafe speed when they get into similar collisions?

    If you don't then you would seem to have an unfair double standard and would be a not good policeman. But maybe (hopefully) you do cite fellow officers for this.

  7. A bump on the head can go seriously sideway, seriously quickly.

    Two words...

    Brad Moody.

  8. Our local law enforcement also had a no-breaks approach for this recent event.

    Sorry for the shameless plug of my blog.

    I am all the way on board with you, for smacking kids down early, all the better to make clear the distinction between video games or online personas, versus analog real life with all its responsibilities.

    I don't know if your kid is lucky (minor injuries) or not (knucklehead relatives).

  9. @ Anonymous and what makes you qualified to know a good cop from a bad one?

    I make anywhere from 10 - 20 traffic stops a shift and write maybe 2 or 3 tickets. Cops are not the only ones catching a break.