Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hit and Run

Sunday evening (4/11/10) I went over to Main Lady's house for our usual tradition of dinner and a movie.  I turned in around 11:00, but I couldn't sleep and so ended up watching Madmen, season 2 on DVD.  At 1:30 my reverie was interrupted by an extended sound I can best describe as an empty dump truck crossing a rough set of railroad tracks followed by our garage door being forcibly removed from the garage and finishing with a loud thump.  I'd have expected a few residents at Toledo Memorial Park to sit up and take notice, but Main Lady was still industriously sawing wood.  I provided surcease for her labors.

“Hey!  I think you'd better get up – it sounds like we have a major problem outside.”

I don't remember what Main Lady said, exactly, but she did get up.  I didn't wait around for the inevitable question and answer session.  I went straight outside, electing to leave Excellent Rachmaninoff inside where there were fewer opportunities to bite people.  And – nothing.  I found a dark, empty street.  The better half from the neighbors across the street called out to me from her upstairs window.

“Jack! What was that noise?”

“I don't know.  I don't see anything”  I ambled along the sidewalk, then I crossed the street and headed up the main side street.  Another neighbor lady was out looking around as well, and we passed the time briefly.  I nosed around for about five minutes and went back inside to face Main Lady.  As it turned out, Main Lady didn't hear the noise and was more interested in returning to sleep rather than playing twenty questions, which was nice.  We got undressed and crawled into the sack, and right after Main Lady finally got comfortable the dog went off.  Excellent Rachmaninoff sounded his call to general quarters.  I didn't want to get up.

Main Lady: Jack!  The dog is barking.

Mad Jack: Well, go and see what's making him bark.

Main Lady: No! You go see what's making him bark.

Mad Jack: No.  I've already been up once, now it's your turn.  Go see who's tormenting him.

Main Lady: Maybe he'll shut up on his own.

Mad Jack: No, he's barking at something.  It's probably just the neighbors screwing around in the driveway.  Go and see.

Main Lady: Alright...

I congratulate myself on winning one.  It isn't often I win one.  Yessir, this is the best way to handle this problem.

Main Lady, sounding upset and nervous: Jack?  There are a bunch of men in the front yard.

What the hell?  I get up in a rush and pull my Levis on, find my moccasins and grab my jacket.  I debate on taking my pistol and decline.  This is probably a group of neighbors who have heard the loud noise I heard and are now discussing it in front of the house.  I exit via the side door, intending to tell them to politely button up and we can all go back to bed.  I am forced to revise my plan.

Invaders in the Front Yard

I count four police cars in front of the house.  Unseen by Sylvania's Finest I stroll out to the sidewalk, noting that the police are concentrating their attention and their lights on Main Lady's front door.  One brave soul dares to bang on the door and quickly steps back while the others watch.  I walk to the periphery of the light and speak up.  “Officer, I'm over here.  Behind you.”  That gets the attention of the young man in blue and he walks over to me quickly, taking care not to get too close to me.  I learned much later that the police were responding to a call of shots fired.  I introduce myself.

“Good evening, officer.  I'm Mad Jack.”  I debate on shaking hands and decide against it.  The Sylvania City policeman is a bit nervous.  His eyes are wide and he clearly wonders if I'm okay or not.  He keeps his light out of my eyes, which is nice.

“Fine.” Officer One replies.  “How are you?”

“Tired.” I say.  “What's going on?”

“What are you doing here?” inquiring minds want to know.

“Well, I live here.  And you?”

“Is this your car?” Officer One asks.

I'm stumped.  My car?  What car?  I half turn and gesture towards the driveway behind me.  “Well, the first car -” I start to explain but he cuts me off, repeating the question with some impatience.

“Is this your car?” Officer One asks, shining his ten cell flashlight to his left.  I take a long look.

“Holy shit.”  I say.  “Now I know what made that racket.”

My Car?  No...

“Is this your car?” Officer One repeats.

“No.” I reply.  “That is not my car.”

I realize for the first time that I'm standing in some tire ruts and so step away from the evidence.  Officer One and I talk a little longer.  There is no driver around anywhere, and Officer One explains that the car is very likely stolen.  I feel bad for the owners, but being practical I ask how we're going to get the car out of the front yard and what can be done with it.  I learn that the police will extract it and haul it away.

The better half from the neighbors across the street didn't see the car either, but she did see a young Hispanic male in a white shirt walking away before I came out to investigate.  She provides this information to the police and they start the investigation.  Eventually Main Lady comes out and we look things over.  It could have been worse.  Main Lady's home is situated at the terminus of a side street.  Anyone coming down the street and failing to make a sharp left or right will end up in her front yard.  The large oak trees provide a nice safety buffer between home and hell, but there is a way through them – which is what happened here.

The driver of the scrap iron special that is now trying to look like a bird bath took out the stop sign, thundered across the road and saw the house closing at light speed.  By reflex brought on by a primitive survival instinct he made a very sharp left, missing the front door and ending up in whatever is left of the bushes at the corner of the house.  Here's evidence of the sequence, taken the next day:

Tire Tracks and Stop Sign

The alleged perpetrator veered off to his right and hit the stop sign dead center.  He continued across the street and into the yard.

Tracks in the Yard

Headed for the house, the alleged perpetrator managed to pass between the two oak trees and over the garden in the center.  He's sliding all the way, maybe trying to find the brake pedal.

Coming to a Stop

It's likely he saw something much larger than he was right in front of him and swerved to the left to avoid certain death.

Dirt on the Windows

You can actually see dirt thrown up by the car on the living room windows.  Note that the ground is all torn up from the car sliding in to a stop.

Final Resting Place

Here's the final resting place - for the car, anyway.  The alleged driver is still searching for his.  May his journey be fruitful and provide him with a learning and growth experience.

Damage to the House

Here's the real damage to the house.  Cursory inspection revealed that the damage was limited to the outside of the house.  The inside and the foundation does not seem to have suffered anything, which is the good news here.  I suppose the only other good news is that the alleged perpetrator is in jail and no one was injured by his antics.

After ten minutes or so of standing around, most of the police depart quietly.  Main Lady goes inside and reappears with Excellent Rachmaninoff, who is delighted to see me and wants to go for a canine constitutional.  We might as well, as the circus shows no signs at all of closing up shop.  It is now 2:00 AM and we are walking the dog, something we don't often do at this time.  Eventually we get back and talk to a few of the neighbors who have come out to watch the fun.  Then we get a nice surprise: the police have caught the driver.

When they got a description of the Hispanic male on foot, the Sylvania City police sent an all points bulletin (APB) for all units to be on the lookout for this man.  An officer from the Township police pointed them to the gas station on the corner of Sylvania and McCord where the clerk told them a young Hispanic male in a white jacket had been asking for directions to South Toledo.  A hurried search ensued and the man turned up a few blocks away, was arrested and returned to the crime scene for questioning.  He admitted to driving the car.

Judging by his actions, this guy was so screwed up on one or more controlled substances that he was practically cross eyed.  We learned that this wasn't really his car; it belonged to his girl friend, or maybe to her father or something.  When the police ran the license plate and called the owner of the car, the police asked the owner where the car was.  The owner replied that the car was in the driveway.  I gather that the police requested the owner to verify that statement, and then after a long pause the police asked if the owner wanted to press charges for a stolen vehicle.  We also learned that the owner has no insurance.  We learned that the driver thought he was in Toledo's Old West End, and was trying to find his way to the South End.  He had no idea where Sylvania, Ohio was or that he was in it.  Towards the end of the interrogation experience kicked in and the allegedly inebriated driver claimed to be injured, so instead of going to jail he went off to the hospital and a butt load of pain killers.  Hey, the hospital is better than the drunk tank, right?  I'm going to remember that.

Hispanic in White Headed for the Hospital

If the driver borrowed his girl friend's car, I'm wondering if she's his soon to be ex-girl friend.  At first glance, admittedly at night with poor lighting, the car didn't look all that bad.  After the tow truck operators pulled it out, it became apparent that the car was totaled.

Totaled Car

Totaled Car

The tow truck guys did a great job of extracting the car from the house.  They did it with a cable and a winch, moving the car several inches at a time until they could get it straightened out and loaded onto a flat bed truck.

By the time it became apparent that the dust would settle and the calliope had run out of steam, it was 3:30 in the morning.  The police departed except for one poor soul who drew the short straw and had to clean up the obvious debris.  Excellent Rachmaninoff got an early morning dog walk and displayed unusually good behavior throughout the entire evening.  I don't take to early morning hours as well as I used to, and as a result Monday was a waste of time.  Today isn't bad and I trust that I'll be repaired by the weekend.

And that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

My congratulations to the folks at J and J Towing who carefully extracted the car without tearing up any more of the landscape or causing further damage to the house.  Good job, guys!

My congratulations along with a hoist of the bourbon glass to the City of Sylvania Police Department, who got a very sketchy description along with one lead from an all night gas station clerk and followed these to catch the crook.  That's one less criminal on the road that we all have to worry about.  Good job, police!

My thanks to Main Lady's neighbors who came out to see what was going on and to offer help.  If everyone stays inside, the criminals win.  Thanks to all of you who came out.

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