Hit and Run .. or Just Another Peaceful Rural Evening

Saturday night, after the AYMF Club canoe outing (that story is waiting for film developing to see if I have any usable illustrations), I went over to my parents’ house for dinner, along with my sister and their neighbor Monica. As we were relaxing and chatting after dinner, the still night outside was jarred by the sound of screeching tires and crunching metal. My sister’s first guess was that somebody had smashed into Monica’s car parked in front of the house, and everybody ran out to see what the damage was.

We found a pickup truck which had miraculously managed to miss Monica’s car, before leaving the road and traveling over some shrubs and through some trees. In the darkness, I couldn’t see the occupants very well. I approached the truck and asked if they’d had too much to drink and they loudly proclaimed to be sober. My sister, slightly more politely, inquired if anybody was hurt (I guess it’s that female nurturing instinct that made her think to ask that), and they claimed to be OK. (Hindsight: If I’d had my digital camera, I could have taken some neat pictures to show here, as well as show the police. I’m beginning to think I should carry it in the car all the time to be prepared for any spontaneous event).

My parents called 911 and reported a non-injury accident, and we were all waiting for the appropriate authorities to show up and sort things out. That is, we were waiting; they apparently had more important things to do than explain to the police why their truck left the roadway unexpectedly. Suddenly we noticed the truck departing the scene at a high rate of speed.

After a minute or so of surprise, followed by repetitive statements of the obvious: “Hey! They’re leaving”, I jumped in my Celica and the chase was on. They had a pretty good head start, but I had a GTS with the VVTL-i engine and six-speed transmission. Despite my marvel of Japanese technology and heavy foot, I began to think they had lost me as I travelled a couple of miles without seeing them. Then, as I flew past a narrow overgrown lane, I noticed lights in it. Looking at the empty road ahead of me, I quickly decided that if those lights weren’t the ones I wanted, I’d probably lost them anyway, so I spun around to check it out.

Pulling into the lane, I saw that the lights were the rear cab lights over the window of a pickup truck, a promising sign. As I approached from behind, I saw the tree brances hanging from the bottom of the truck, a dead giveaway that I’d got the culprits. Having gained a little bit of wisdom in my old age, I decided against any confrontation, and backed out to return to my parents’ house and report my discovery. (Hindsight: I should have just retreated to the end of the lane, reported my location by phone, and waited for the cavalry).

Back at the ranch, I found my sister talking to a volunteer firefighter/EMT who had responded to the call, on the principle that “non-injury” reports aren’t always correct. We described the situation, and she radioed for law-enforcement backup before heading that-away after the scoundrels.

The sounds of sirens began to fill the air as we got a full response from the rescue squad, including several firefighter/EMTs in their personal vehicles, and a couple who had happened to be at the station and showed up in a fire engine. In between firefighter vehicles, a state trooper roared past.

I suppose all the sirens must have spooked the quarry, because all the emergency vehicles soon returned without finding anyone. The trooper checked out the accident scene, and gathered up the truck’s front bumper, both side mirrors, and some miscellaneous other pieces of trim. He called in the license number I gave him, determined that the vehicle was a Toyota truck (no wonder it was so hard to catch) registered in Lexington, and turned the info over to the Lexington police. So far, I’ve heard no report on whether they’ve found him, but it shouldn’t be very difficult. I’m just wondering what he was planning to tell his insurance company. I couldn’t see what kind of damage had been done, but from the pieces he’d left behind, indicating damage to the front and both sides, I’m guessing an easy $10,000 he was going to have to explain without an accident report.

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