Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I'm pretty sure getting hit by a dumptruck is an emergency. 911 begs to differ.

Yesterday after school, the kids and I took my parents to the school's favorite swimming hole and waterfall.

The entire school walks there a few times a year, usually in May when it gets really hot in the classrooms, down a long winding dirt road. It is one of the things our kids love most about the school (naturally) and they wanted to show their grandparents this cool secret spot.

So we parked and walked down the dirt road, then hiked through the woods and across a small stream, and spent a little while skipping stones across the swimming hole before we headed home.

As we drove down the dirt road, we bumped over pot holes and steered around blind corners - and just before the very last corner, maybe 200 yards from the highway, a dumptruck came swerving around the bend on the wrong side of the road. My side of the road. The bucket end of the dumptruck was fishtailing slightly, with gravel and dust swirling everywhere. The engine veered back to the right, and into the bushes as he roared past, scraping only the back bumper and then breaking a tail light as he tore off through the jungle.

My father and I jumped out of the car and ran back to assess the damage. I tried to make out a letter or number on the plate that was coated in mud and grime. Frustrated by my shitty eyesight and the fact that the guy didn't even stop, I contemplated hopping in the car, making a u-turn, and following him, since catching up to him on the narrow roads would be relatively easy. But then I remembered that he was driving a DUMP TRUCK and could very easily cause a lot more damage if felt threatened or cornered. Envisioning a dumptruck coming at me in reverse, I decided to just let it go. I climbed back in the car.

"Did you see THAT?" Max crowed "It was a TRANSFORMER!"

I ignored him and dialed 911. The operator who answered the phone said "911. Do you have an emergency?"

"Yes, we just got side swiped by a dumptruck."

"Is anyone injured?"

"Just my car."

"Call the non-emergency line." And he read out a phone number and hung up.

I sat there, stunned. So I am driving down a narrow country road minding my own business, and some asshole can hit me and drive away, and I am not allowed to call 911? A hit and run isn't an emergency?

I called the non-emergency line, chagrined.

The operator kept asking me to spell the name of the street I was on. The location didn't matter. The landmarks didn't matter. She needed the exact spelling. I couldn't even tell you what day it was at that point, I was so stunned. Spelling the name of the country road I was on was not in my skill set at that point.

"I found it. An officer is on the way."

I tried to remember what the truck looked like. "It was orange right? The cab was orange? And the bucket was yellow?"

"It was orange and yellow." Mom agreed. "Yes." My step dad nodded. "Orange in front, Yellow in the back."

The paint on the back of my car was yellow. It made sense.

"It was orange in front, and yellow in the back, and it had a TRANSFORMERS logo on the front!" Max was really worked up - but also had the most detailed description of the vehicle out of the 5 witnesses.

We all sat there glumly, waiting for a police officer, as the dump truck made his escape through the jungle.

It's a small island, and someday I am going to see that damned dumptruck again. But it won't matter, the responding officer explained. "If they don't stop, and we don't catch them right away, there's not much we can do."

Oh really?

Let me tell YOU something.
If I ever see that dumptruck again, HE'S going to be the one calling 911. And I promise you, this time it's going to be an emergency.


STATJR said...

Okay, I am part of our local volunteer fire department. I really think you need to file a complaint against this dispatcher. That was not only un-called for but rude. Clearly you were in an accident and the other vehicle left the scene and posed an immediate threat to others.

That, in my opinion, sounds like a 911 to me.

Elly said...

I hate people who drive away like that. Absolutely ridiculous. Glad to hear that you guys were mostly okay!