Monday, December 22, 2014

Monday: Not A Car Accident

Today I was driving in downtown Bellevue when I saw an odd thing: at the intersection of 4th and 104th, two cars were stopped and the drivers were standing outside them talking. At first I thought it was just a fender bender, with the drivers exchanging insurance information, but they seemed quite angry and almost ready to hit each other. They were in the inner lane of the road, blocking the use of that lane; I could have gone around them but I stopped and observed. It looked like a fight was about to break out so I called 911 - at the very least, there had been an accident. I read the license plate of the nearer car and a brief description - I could tell it was an Audi from the four circles design. The car in front was a green taxi; its driver was black and the Audi driver was white.
I saw the two men still shouting but I don't have a positive memory of either one of them taking a punch - they might have shoved each other but I didn't see it. I tried to get a photo but didn't want to mess up the 911 call either.
Then the driver of the car in the back got in his car and drove off, north. The other driver was quite angry and pulled over to talk with some construction workers in yellow vests, on the north west corner of the intersection. I pulled in front of him, still on 911, and suggested to the operator that I get the remaining driver on the phone. I gave my phone to that driver and he started talking.
Soon a motorcycle cop came up, asked if anyone was injured, and when we said no, asked us to pull into the parking lot across the street. He held up traffic while we did so.
He started questioning the driver as I waited, and it was a minute or two before I realized that he thought I was the other driver in the altercation; when he realized I was just a witness, he was about to let me go when the subject came up of the driver's cellphone, which he said the other guy had taken. I had seen the other driver holding a cell phone up and away from the other guy, and just assumed he was video'ing the whole thing, but now the taxi driver was saying it was stolen. The cope said I should wait and he'd get a statement.
Eventually another policeman drove up; the motorcycle cop was on traffic duty, not crime investigation, so he drove off. It was interesting to listen to the cop ask questions; the driver was quite angry and did not know how to give his story in a calm and straightforward way. I don't know whether he was making things up about the other guy throwing him down, or whether he was misunderstanding the questions - either way, it seemed a complicated process. My story was much simpler, since I hadn't seen any actual punching (although it might have happened) and I didn't have any photos; fortunately I gave the license number over the phone so I didn't have to remember.
In retrospect, I could have drive by and done nothing, but the situation didn't look right, and I'm glad I stopped. It was not a car accident, as I had feared, but something in its way even stranger.

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