This sounds like something I made up as a personal injury attorney, but I swear it happened very recently.
A friend of mine, “Joe”*, was driving around New Port Richey on a Friday afternoon and he called me from his cell phone. We were chatting for a short time when his phone went dead. Oh well, I guess his cell battery died, I thought, and I went about my business here at the office.
About two hours later Joe called me back. His first words were: “So, did you hear that?” Huh? Hear what? While on his cell phone with me, sitting at a dead stop in a car behind a few other cars which sat behind a stopped yellow school bus, he was rear ended at a very high rate of speed. That’s when the phone went dead.
It’s always curious why some drivers cannot negotiate their brakes in time from hitting
another 2 ton piece of metal that costs lots of money which sits still right in front of you, but it happens all the time. This time, however, it wasn’t just someone who couldn’t stop in time. This was a full-fledged speeding car, the driver of which never touched his brakes. We know he never touched his brakes for reasons you will see as you read on. I’ve seen the photos of these two mangled pieces of metal that sat there on Little Road in New Port Richey that Friday and it’s a wonder that nobody was killed.
Because of the velocity of this impact and because Joe’s car was hit at a slight angle, his car was pushed into a spin where it impacted with two other vehicles causing significant damage to those vehicles.
The impact was so strong that Joe’s seat was broken and he awoke from his initial shock staring at the inside of the roof of his car. When talking to me earlier, Joe’s elbow was on the arm rest holding the cell phone. After collecting himself post impact, my friend’s cell
phone was found in the back seat of the second vehicle which had a blown out back window.
Joe is relatively okay – he’s able to live his life and go to work and enjoy his family. However, he’s not enjoying the neck strain and headaches that bother him daily along with the weekly doctor visits to help him recuperate.
However, the driver who caused this whole mess is paying a very steep price.
After the impact and the initial shock, Joe jumped out of his car not knowing if the car or cars would catch fire. He heard something very odd. Upon his exit he noticed the other driver was knocked out cold and his front tires were still spinning. The sound Joe heard was the sound of rubber grinding down on asphalt. Joe reached in and turned the car off to avoid further catastrophic results.
How do we know he never braked before impact? There were no skid marks under or behind the car indicating his foot never came off the gas pedal.
Why? How is it possible not to see a couple of stopped cars and a giant yellow stopped school bus here on a sunny Friday in New Port Richey?
Well, the other thing my friend and (now) personal injury client noticed was this unconscious driver’s right hand was outstretched and his cell phone was on the floorboard of the car. Given that the driver was young, speeding and slammed into a string of stopped cars, I think we can reasonably surmise he wasn’t paying attention. What might have diverted his attention was lying on the floor of the car. Whether dialing or texting, we will never know.
What we do know is that this young man is now a paralyzed from the waist down. It seems he impacted Joe’s car, hit the windshield, fell back and then dropped his phone.
Oh, I know…… The message of “don’t text and drive” is neither original nor new, but it is frankly the only defense cautious drivers have. There isn’t a thing in the world Joe could have done to avoid this impact – and that’s what’s scary. All we can do is attempt to be proactive and hammer home the point to young drivers in particular that completion of your essential text message might harm or even kill me!
The photo which accompanies this blog post is, in fact, an actual photo of the crash site.
*Joe” is not his real name.