I had just pulled onto the newly built street when a big truck (an 18-wheeler) cut in front of me. I always liked watching them, but not this close. I followed him for a few miles, then peeked out in the other lane, no one there. I pulled out to pass him. I noticed that he was running right on the speed limit – 60 MPH. I would have to go a little faster to get by him. I remember seeing the green-gray cab of the truck. I glanced at the speedometer. It said 80 MPH, not bad. After all, the road was brand new, new stripes and signs.
All of a sudden, just like a dream, a very loud boom. The car was spinning around and around. I was being thrown back and forth. Dirt, rocks, dust and glass were all around me. I saw something really big and red coming right at my face. I must have ducked, because as I learned later, it was the hood of the car. It missed my head by a few inches. The noise was unreal. Finally it stopped.
A man reached into the car, and another man in a blue uniform said, “Don’t touch min. He’s trapped in there. The ambulance should be here any minute, and they will cut him out.” I didn’t like the sound of that at all. I leaned across the seat. The left door would not open, but the right one would open a little bit. I checked myself out – no blood, nothing broken, didn’t even hurt very much. I laid on the seat and inched along toward the right side. I squeezed through a little opening and laid on the ground for a while. I grabbed the door and pulled myself up. Just as I stood up, a man with an electric saw said, “Where is the driver?”
“Damned if I know.” I walked away.
My mom and dad were not as shook up as you would think. Of course, Mom wanted me to go to a doctor because of the bruises and scrapes. And Dad, who worked for the Ford dealer, wasn’t happy to see his ’49 red Ford convertible sitting on a flatbed all smashed to hell. Other than that, everything was hunky dory.
About three days after the accident, we got a certified letter saying we would get a letter and the tickets for the accident. Mom and Dad were expecting an envelope. Instead they got a packet with five tickets inside: 1. Speeding; 2. Failure to control speed; 3. Failure to control speed after passing; 4. Causing an accident; 5. Leaving the scene of the accident.
I had been out taking pictures. My dad met me at the door. “Maybe you should save your money for these instead of buying film.”
As we were driving to the courthouse Dad said, “I borrowed $200.00 from work, so if it’s more than that we are in trouble.” K didn’t like the sound of that.
When we got inside, the place was huge. We were early so we took our time and looked around. We took a seat in the second row. One by one they came in. The room was almost full with the bailiff came in. He moved people around; not me or Dad, but he did ask our names. After a while the judge came in. The bailiff said, “Please rise.” We all stood up. The judge looked at the room, shook his head and said, “If you only have one ticket, please stand in the hallway. You will be going to a different courtroom.” “One other thing I want to do.”
“Officers, have your witness stand.” “OK” “All the people that were looking out the window, waiting for Mr. Kennedy to smash in Mrs. Swartz’s car – leave.” About 40 people left.
After all this, he said, “Mr. Kennedy, how do you plead?” “Guilty, I guess.” “What do you mean, ‘You guess’?” “We’’, I hit her, but she was making an illegal left turn.” “What?” he said very loudly. And I said, “I have pictures. She turned over a double yellow line.” Then the lady yelled, “I always turn there.” The judge slammed the gavel. “Order!” he said. “Let’s see those pictures.” I handed them over. “How many do you have?” “About 15,” I said. “What are these? They don’t show anything.” “That’s right. You can’t see the store from the accident sight.”
The judge said, “Mr. Sims, Why are you here? Aren’t you the driver of the truck?” “Yes sir, they gave him a ticket for passing me. But he didn’t. He was along side of the cab, but he didn’t pass me.”
“OK, what about ‘Leaving the scene?’” I said, “The lady must have had her foot on the clutch, so when I hit her, the car went shooting up the street. The door was open and she was crying. I walked up to see if she was all right.”
The judge asked the officers to stand. They did, and both of them looked at their shoes. He said, “We will take these tickets one at a time. ‘Causing an accident.’ I talked to Mrs. Swartz and she told me she always turned there. I think she caused the accident. 2. ‘Leaving the scene.’ He (Mr. Kennedy) just explained that. 3. ‘Not controlling speed after passing.’ He didn’t pass anyone.”
He looked at the officers. “Are you guys with me so far?” “Yes sir!” “Mr. Kennedy said he was speeding. I’m not sure of this next one, ‘Failure to control speed.” He waited a minute and said, “$32.50.” He slammed down his gavel. I looked back at my dad. He had a big smile on his face.
April 30, 2014