I was walking the dogs shortly after 7, walking in the residential area of my neighborhood in the light rain. As I crossed a street, I had enough time to see a Jeep Cherokee run a stop sign and turn left – heading right for me. I had just a moment to decide to move forward and try and get past it, or pull the dogs backwards out of the way. In that moment the Jeep was on us.
Zilla is always on my left, close, and DeSoto is on my right slightly ahead on her retractable leash. I was hit on my left side and fell backwards, while I watched as the Jeep swallowed Zilla and then DeSoto underneath its front. The Jeep finally stopped, just as I came alongside the front wheel. I got up, ran to the front of the vehicle and checked on my dogs. DeSoto was backing away from the SUV but caught in her leash. While Zilla was trapped underneath the vehicle, smushed between the undercarriage and the ground. Her leash was underneath the car’s left tire so she was struggling. I reached in and disconnected her from her leash and helped her out from under the truck. I began to assess both dogs, checking for broken limbs and bleeding. After an all too brief triage I turned my attention to the driver, who had stepped out of his vehicle. I yelled at him, “you didn’t stop! You ran the sign! Why didn’t you stop?!” He got back into his car and backed up – all the way into the intersection, and then cut his wheels to drive away.
Thankfully a local neighbor heard my yelling, stepped in front of the driver’s car and slammed his fists on the hood. He yelled, “what are you going to do? Run me over? STOP YOUR CAR!” This incredible neighbor guided the driver to pull over, at which point the driver got out and began confronting my neighbor, saying of all things, something about being black. Really. I wish I could remember what he said, because I was so stunned and it made no sense. But he made it a race thing! (The driver was black, in his sixties. This was not the time to say I was an Obama supporter.) My neighbor had his cellphone and called the police. I demanded the guy’s driver’s license and registration. I didn’t have a pen, I had two terrified dogs, but the guy handed me a pen, some paper, and his driver’s license.
I copied down the info as my neighbor continued to call in the incident. The driver got back into his car and left, and the police hadn’t arrived. Then my neighbor pointed at my greyhound and said she needed medical attention. I hadn’t seen her tail. The skin and fur had been stripped away from the bone and was dangling, bloody. She was dripping blood all over the ground, shivering, cold, and freaked out. I gave my neighbor my information and went for home.
I walked in the door and did something I’ve never done, which is why I think it worked. I yelled towards the bedroom and my sleeping wife, “I need you, it’s an emergency”. She was up in seconds and came to our aid. She grabbed her purse and keys and we turned around and went to the car. We got the girls into the car easily enough, and I got into the passenger seat. My wife asked if I was OK. I thought so, and then I lifted my shorts revealing a growing goose egg.
We got to City of Angeles 24hr hospital and they were great, totally responsive. As they triaged Zilla they let me use their phone so I could call the police. The dispatch officer connected me to someone, and when I related what happened the officer asked why I had left the scene. I said because my dogs were bleeding and needed medical attention. He laughed. He actually laughed derisively. I told him, “are you making fun of me for taking care of my dogs?” To which he replied that I should have stayed and waited for the officers. I hung up and focused on the present situation.
We went into the bathroom and used some alcohol to clean the road rash on my calf, which was as painful as you think putting alcohol on road rash is. The doctor met with us in the exam room and said that our little dog was looking okay but they were checking on a cornea scratch. But Zilla was badly bruised, all over her body, the skin on her tail was “de-gloved”, and she would likely lose the tail. They wanted to observe them during the day to follow their injuries, but Zilla would need to remain overnight given her wounds. We approved giving pain meds to Zilla, because she was in serious distress. The greyhound is normally a drama queen, but this was clear she was in bad straights and in a lot of pain. DeSoto, as a pit bull, has a high pain threshold, but she was already acting better and walking around.
Then my wife called her parents who came immediately. My mother in-law took me home so I could get my wallet and our phones, then back to the vet hospital to deliver my wife’s phone. Then she took me to the urgent care to get checked out while my wife and her father drove back to the scene to document the area with photographs. My father-in-law used to be an insurance adjuster and in these situations his past life comes in very handy. At urgent care the doctor noted a sizable hematoma on my leg and wrote a ‘scrip for an X-Ray. My mother-in-law took me home where I reconnected with my wife. At home I got cleaned up and we got our heads together.
We went to the police station and filled out a police report detailing the entire accident. This time the officer was kind, understanding, and helpful. As a dog owner, he said he would have flipped out if that happened to his dogs. This was a much better experience than the phone call.
Then we went back to the vet and sat with the dogs, just to stroke them. Zilla whimpered the entire time, clearly drugged and still in a lot of overall pain. DeSoto seemed almost back to normal – face licking and wanting to cuddle. We departed with much tears, realizing how lucky we were.
Lucky? 1) An amazing neighbor who stood in front of the car and prevented a hit and run. 2) The driver was insured. It was a new car so he had to have real insurance. 3) I was not broken. I am banged up, but I can walk. 4) The dogs did were not killed. The police officer indicated that it was likely an “A-Pillar” blind spot – the car pillar between the driver’s window and the windshield is a huge view block and they see these kinds of accidents all the time. He was probably going along, head checked the intersection and never saw me or my dogs. He California rolled the stop and never saw me – even after the impact. It doesn’t make me feel better knowing that this is a problem endemic to most cars. But it does remind me to never trust intersections, even if I know I have the right of way. The old question of “would you rather be right or alive?”comes to mind, even now as I do all of the paperwork and claim filing just to begin recouping the financial outlay for this accident. DeSoto’s bill was $180. Zilla’s will run about $1800, and the surgery anywhere from $2600-$3600. Again, it could have been worse. We are all alive, if not traumatized. I thought this would happen on a bike, somewhere on PCH. But it reminds me to wear my RoadID all the time, even on morning walks in the rain. One day I might not be able to yell for help.
I was supposed to start my season this weekend and kicked it off with a 45 minute ride on Le Boucher followed by a 1 hour 1 mile swim in the pool yesterday. I was planning on doing Latigo Canyon as a time trial this Wednesday. I’m glad I’m not dead or broken, but I’m already thinking it might be hard to generate wattage and power with this monster growing on my thigh.
Tomorrow I’ll write about my incredible fit session with Ian Murray of Triathletix and why I would unequivocally recommend him for any triathlete serious about their bike and position. Can one say “transcendental” regarding a bike fit?