Witness of an accident

Yesterday at about 22u I came home and at about 500 m of my appartment, I have to turn a couple of meters after a crosspoint with traffic lights. There was one car in front of me at the lights who was going to turn right as well in the same street as I did. In my mirror I had seen a motorbike coming on the bike-way.

When the lights hit green I noticed the moterbike had almost caught up with us and in my mind there was this small alert going on "carefull when you turn right"...but before I reached the street, he had already passed me and he was at the same height of the car in front of me (also signalling to go right). All I could think was "Stop stop stop, there is a moterbike" and hope she had seen him or that he was fast enough to have passed her before she turned. But neither of that happened. Instead she turned right, caught the moterbike and dragged it a couple of meters into the street where it fell down with the guy rolling further over the street. The lady who probably only realised what was happening while it was happening stopped a 100m further in the street.

Without thinking I kinda stopped in the middle of the corner where I was, and ran outside without my mobile to the guy. Much to my relief he jumped up right away, and he staggered a bit to the sidewalk where he crouched down while being on the phone already. I asked him if he was ok and if he was phoning emergency services but he just waived me away " no police no ambulance" he said. All thoughts were going through my head being confused and not knowing well what to do. "no police" he said once more and we (in the mean time other people had approached) we told him he had to see a doctor. Mind you, he had clearly hit the street with his face and it was all bleeding and he was spitting out some of his teeth that were broken off in his bleeding mouth. He kept on phoning a friend who apparently was the owner of the moped and we kept asking to stop and check if he was ok and that we'd call for help (that's by the way not 911 in Europe, but 112!!! Remind that if you travel in Europe. National numbers work as well, in Belgium it's the 100). Just when he asked for a handkerchief and I handed him mine, a paramedic appeared from behind me and told him not to touch anything and get immediatly into the ambulance. Hmm apparently some other people had not waited for his approval to call 100... smart people, I should have called immediately myself, but hey I wanted to check if he was ok. It's confusing what to do first.

So there I was in the middle of a small crowd gathering, with a lady who caused the accident and was clearly in shock about what had happened and a victim who did not want to see a doctor or police.

Since I had witnessed the accident so closely, I was told to stay on the spot for a statement later on together with 2 other people. The arriving police unfortanately should have ended their shift already half an hour before and they were just still in the neighbourhood. Besides making us move our vehicles out of the traffic point, taking our names and gathering the general situation, they did not do much more. We had to wait until another team arrived. Some other small police car stopped for a few minutes but drove off again. By the time those had arrived the ambulance had already taken care of the victim for a while and had left with him to the hospital. Also the owners of the moterbike had appeared on the spot and some more time afterwards the lady's husband in which arms she put herself crying "I have not seen him, I have not seen him". I pitied her, and I pitied the bleeding guy without teeth now.

I took about 10 minutes before the old police team had passed all their info to the new team, more time before the new team started to check out the general situation once more: what happened, which are the damaged vehicles, who is who here on the spot, ... Then the lady was being questioned for such a long time (and tested for alcohol), the disaster tourists had disappeared again and me and the 2 other witnesses stood there being bored to death. Everytime one of the policemen walked by, they told us that they'd take our statements right away, while they were measuring the street and walking up and down. Grrr, why did we have to wait so long, it was insane. The woman was so in shock, she could use some more time alone, why didn't they question us first???

Another police car stopped for a minute and drove off again and we were still standing there outside in the dark with all cars staring at us when driving by at the police car (which had his lights flashing all the time). The lady came out to show where she claimed to have hit the bike.... about 10 meters in the street already which was clearly not the case...she dragged him up to there, but when she hit him, he was still on the bike-way at the main road. Another police van stopped and came to collect the moterbike and drove off again. ... (that were police men # 9 and 10 that had been on the spot). ... In the end I was just joking with the other witnesses, telling her that she had parked her car on the spot where he spit out his teeth and that they were probably stuck now in her tires and that she'd drive around with them as a small souvenir.

Finally after 1h30 minutes of waiting, it was my turn for being questioned and making a statement. Maybe it makes sense after all to question the witnesses last... so they can check out all the claims the involved parties have made to what we've seen. Whatever you say, you have to rebuild the situation step by step to the police, they repeat and rephrase everything you say a couple of times and ask you if they understood well, then they think about how they have to write it down again, read it out again etc... At the end they read all of it out again and make you sign it. This way a small statement takes a long time indeed, but I guess it's tourough.

The weird thing is that although I clearly saw it happening, I don't remember any details. I have no idea whether he was wearing his helmet. I assume he did because I saw it rolling of the street but as the police officer said, that doesn't proof he was wearing it (properly), more on the contrary. And it's true, I don't really know whether he was wearing it or not. I don't remember if his lights were on, neither can I tell the speed he was driving ,only an impression.
I suppose when we drive, we only pick up the details we need to operate in the situation. I mainly remember where the moterbike was all the time, because I had to know that when I wanted to turn off. I don't remember if he flew over the car or not, I was to busy cursing when I realised what was happening and hurrying to stop myself and get out.

Anyway, I was home very late, much too awake and had a difficult time sleeping in while my statements and the experiences kept coming back. I must admit that I was looking in my mirror a lot more today while being on the road. It clearly made me realise once more how quickly an accident can happen and even at slow speeds you can already be badly hurt. That woman could have been me. We must admit it, we all sometimes have moments that we pay less attention on the road huh. Scary thought.


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