Too bad. Never heard of it, but it looked interesting… something about pregnant nuns and World War II. No movie, so, what do two, boojy, wannabe, selfish-indulgent ingrates do? How about Gelato…?
Traffic westward from Encino was wide open. “They should have built their theater this way.” “Mmm... the mathematics say otherwise. The further west you go, the less interest in other than mainstream.” “Yeah, and there’s no Jews, either.” “Less Jews.” “This would never work in Orange County.” ”Too Waspy.” “Plenty of money, but not enough interest.” “Not enough Jews.”
Ten minutes and ten miles later we are off the freeway, heading south of Ventura. We get close and pull to the curb.
“Is there a closer spot up ahead?”
“Well, then I’m going to pull around this guy and park there.”
We pull back away from the curb, going around another parked car and to be right in front of the gelato. There are people sitting outside, eating, but it’s not too crowded.
“Can you get out without scratching the door?”
* Bam! *
To our left and out in front I look over to see a motorcyclist in flight over the hood of a car that is crossing/blocking the lanes. Vaguely, another car is between us and them, the motorcyclist and the crashed-into car. The man in flight hits the asphalt, tumbling.
“Oh my god, what do we do?”
I open the door scratching the bottom edge on the curb. “Sorry.”
“I don’t want to see.”
She stays by the car while I run over.
There are already people there, including, foremost, the broad-sided driver, crouched over and touching the downed cyclist. They’re telling him to not move as he rolls in slow motion from side to side.
He’s not answering, and he can’t get comfortable. No wonder. His pants are shredded and there’s some blood. He attempts to use his right hand to reach toward his face or helmet. It's not working as it dangles at an odd angle separated from the exposed, snapped ends of both fibula and tibia. My first compound fracture. There’s nothing I can do; nothing I can say. The cell phones were already out as soon as I’d opened the door so I’d put mine away. There’s three people helping him, though I don’t know what they can do except to try to keep him still until professional help arrives...
I cross back to our vehicle. In less than five minutes the Fire Department is there.
Good. They’ll know what to do.
I tell her she was right not to go look.
“Why did you go over?” “To see if I could help.” “ I saw it all. I should stay to give a statement.”
I didn’t see it, not until after the impact. “Okay.”
The police have blocked traffic. We're waiting to give our statements. I hadn't noticed before, but the driver of the car is shook up, sitting on the ground with his back to a light post. My wife is touching his shoulder. Soon, his parents arrive. An ambulance has already come and taken away the motorcyclist.
He’s only twenty-two. Pizza delivery. He'd sent them a text while the police were taking statements. He lives close by.
* * *
I try to make sense of it :
He’d been on the side street and attempted to cross the four-lane road. Looking to his left, into oncoming cross traffic, another vehicle had slowed and was turning right onto the side street. It had blocked his view of the motorcycle.
Since the oncoming car was slowed, turning right, and apparently there were no other vehicles in any direction, he’d crossed. The motorcycle coming up behind this slow-turning vehicle had sped up (we’d heard his acceleration) to go around. His view had also been blocked, at least partially, of the now-crossing-in-front-of-him, other vehicle, which he hit at full speed.
Whose fault? Well…
The motorcyclist did have the right of way. And while the motorcyclist reasonably would not expect a vehicle to cross right in front of him, the crossing driver couldn’t see him, and crossing when it is apparently clear is normal, and permitted. The slow-turning vehicle (other than driving very slowly) that had blocked the others’ view was not doing anything out the ordinary. Changing lanes to go around a slow driving vehicle is also normal, and permitted.
So…whose fault? I don’t know. Maybe it is no one’s.
In any case, we went home after giving our statements, and were disturbed the rest of the night, though not as disturbed as the participants.
This was a bad thing.