A few months ago, I was at a crash where a woman in her 40s ran a red light and collided into two other cars. After speaking with her, I could tell she had major emotional problems. The accident made everything worse because she was driving her mother’s car and she didn’t want to tell her.
After a few minutes, she started talking about not wanting to live. I called for a patrol unit to deal with her while I continued to handle the collision investigation part.
Two officers rolled up and spoke to the woman. A few minutes later one of the cops told me she really didn’t want to kill herself. He said she was an emotional wreck and more worried about telling her mother about the car. They helped out by calling mom and breaking the news to her.
When I was done, I walked over to where the woman was. She was still a mess, but things were better now that the officers had calmed her down and spoken to her mom.
I tried to make her feel better by telling her we had all been involved in on-duty crashes before.
She looked at me with a suspicious look and said, “No you haven’t.”
“Yes, I have,” I replied. “One time I hit a house.”
With a skeptical look, she said: “No you didn’t. You’re just trying to make me feel better.”
I pointed to one of the cops and said, “I met him his first day at work when he crashed on his very first call.”
She looked over at him as he said, “I did.”
“No, you didn’t. You’re lying.”
“Seriously,” he said. “I did.”
The other cop then said, “I’ve crashed, too.”
She squinted her eyes as she said, “You’re making this stuff up.”
No matter how much we told her about our traffic collisions, she didn’t believe us. We all wished the stories weren’t true, but they were.
I know it sounds pretty farfetched for a police car to hit a house, but it was true. Maybe a picture of my crashed patrol car in the front yard of that house would’ve made her believe me.
You just can’t make this stuff up.
Editor’s Note: John Roman is a traffic officer for an Orange County police agency who writes a blog, Badge 415. His posts focus on the human side of police work and safety tips. Roman, a cop for more than 20 years, has handled more than 5,000 accidents as a collision investigator. BehindTheBadgeOC.com shares some of his columns.