Monday, April 29, 2013

Like a Rag Doll

Yesterday evening at Safeway, we had finished loading our groceries into the car and I was returning the cart when a crunch of metal caused me and Jason to both look up.  A huge, old Ford truck was pulling quickly away from the Toyota Camry into which the driver had just backed.  Then, a woman was running across the parking lot, pushing her cart filled with groceries, screaming at the truck, "That's my car!  You hit my car!"  The truck continued to drive away, so the woman pushed her cart to the side and sped up after the truck, screaming the whole time, "You hit my car!  That's my car!"  I ran after her, and caught her grocery cart, pushed it out of the way to safety and started after her.  I guess I figured that, if the truck's driver didn't have the decency to stop at the moment he hit her car, he was not going to stop just because she chased after him.  I wanted to get close enough to see his license plate number so that I could help her file a police report for hit-and-run. 

The truck had to stop at the parking lot driveway to make a left turn out onto SE 140th, which is a fairly busy road in our neighborhood.  There was a car in front of it waiting also to turn, which allowed the woman to catch up to the truck.  She started beating on the passenger-side window, yelling repeatedly for the driver to stop, because he hit her car.  The car in front of the truck turned left onto the street.  Then, to my and everyone else's horror, the truck started to turn left, with the woman clinging onto the side window.  She managed to run a few steps with the truck, then, as it picked up speed, it began to drag her, and then -- Lord, have mercy and drive this vision from my mind -- she lost her grip and I saw her body bounce along the ground like a rag doll.  The truck sped off.

Thank God, she did not die.  Thank God, she did not lose consciousness.  Some good people on the other side of the street were able to drag her out of the road quickly.  She was cut up terribly -- flesh just torn from her legs and feet, blood pouring from her forehead and the back of her head.  Those of us on the Safeway-side began to stream over to offer what assistance we could, and to make sure that, when the police came, we were able to give our witness testimony.  Jason, on the other side in the parking lot, stood guard over her car and her shopping cart.  The poor woman was just crying and crying, "He hit my car . . . he hurt me . . . he hurt me . . . he hit my car . . . he is a bad man . . . he did not stop . . . oh, he hurt me . . ."  Someone found her cell phone and called her husband.  The firemen came, the sheriff came, police officers came. 

What I did not know at the time, but found out soon afterward, was that another man had just gotten into his car in the Safeway parking lot when the hit occurred.  As he watched the unbelievable scene unfold, he quickly sprang into action.  He turned right behind the truck onto 140th, stopped but a moment to help get the woman out of the road after she fell, then back into the driver's seat to follow that truck, cell phone in hand, so that the police were able to stop the truck driver within a half and hour.  "They got him," the sheriff apprised us with triumph; a cheer went up among the witnesses and bystanders.  The man who followed the truck came back at the end, to finish giving his report for the police.  Jason and I were able to shake his hand.  Hero.

The woman, whose name is Twee, had been reaching out a hand to me during the wait for her husband and police.  I grabbed her blood-soaked hand and held it gently, promising her that we were all there to help her and that none of us would think of leaving her.  I saw the cross necklace that she wore.  When I met her husband later, I told him to tell Twee that our family would be praying for her.  And so we have.

You may wonder why she was so tenacious in pursuing the man who hit her car.  Why, you may ask, would anyone put themselves at such risk, simply to avenge a cosmetic aberration?  Her husband had the key.  See, Twee was from another country -- somewhere in Asia, I did not find the specific one -- and she had had a very hard life of grinding poverty before coming to the States and marrying her husband.  This car that had been hit was her first new car -- a 2010 Camry with 26, 000 miles on it.  She had had it for only 4 weeks.  And so, I can only guess, when that man hit her car and drove off without any acknowledgement, it was a slap in her face rather than a dent in her trunk.  I imagine all the desperation and injustice of her youth came flooding back to her in that moment and every fibre within her cried out, "I will not be a victim again.  Not today.  Not ever." And I can understand that.

Please pray for Twee's speedy recovery.  And for justice to be served for the man who acted with no honor and almost took her life.

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