Along for the ride:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


In my previous post I described a negative experience with those who uphold the law. In fairness, I have had many positive encounters. This post is a quick synopsis of a day, a number of years ago, that had me included in the lead story of the Ten O'clock News, narrating an incident and giving kudos to the police involved, who were obligated to shoot an armed car-jacker to prevent further harm.
One Monday morning Hubby and I were on our way to a 9 a.m. appointment with a client and his architect, designer and builder; to fine tune the designs of his fireplaces, prior to fabrication.
Traveling south on the freeway we (Hubby) missed our exit, took the next one, and were doubling back, stopped underneath the overpass, waiting for the light to turn green so that we could embark on the on-ramp headed in the other direction. Traffic was very sparse, thank goodness, as it was a school holiday of some kind.
Suddenly, we heard the screeching of brakes. A mini-van appeared perpendicular to us on our right, hurtling down the off-ramp from the Northbound lanes in a dead skid, as if the driver had seen his red light too late. He crossed two lanes of what, on a normal day, would have been heavy traffic, bumped up onto the grassy center median and stopped with his bumper inches away from a sign post.
As I was mentally registering "Boy, He screwed up", and then "Oh, It must be his parents' car. He's really in trouble", as I saw that he was only in his late teens. I simultaneously noticed the baying of multiple sirens. Zoom! Screech! Zoom! Screech! Four police cars swooped down the incline behind him and then a whole other flock of them slid and skidded to a halt every which way but straight.
I was still sitting there in my Captain's chair, in our Dodge Ram Van, high above the action, just like being at the movies for an action flick, as the officers emptied out of their vehicles with guns drawn. I saw the mini-van driver put his car in reverse and accelerate backwards, shunting the police car behind him out of the way and almost killing two police officers, who barely made it out from behind the patrol cars' open doors without being hit and seriously hurt.
Our villain now had his car in forward gear and was trying to drive away whilst shooting at police officers out of the left/driver's side window and simultaneously laying low, away from the window. The result was a big loop left, which had him launched at the side of our van and the other vehicles waiting at the light. Four or five police officers were on foot, pointing guns at the mini-van. They had been yelling warnings at him since they all got out of their vehicles. I remember being very aware that they were checking their line of fire and side-stepping continually to face the target and avoid us and each other. It was a pretty impressive example of good training in action.
My husband tugged on my arm and said "Get Down!" which hadn't occurred to me, at all. The whole thing was so unreal and so outside any of my life's experiences. We didn't have time to get down as another policeman had run to our passenger door, without us noticing, and was hauling us out and away to safety, before a potential injury or hostage situation could ensue. The bad guy's car did hit the car next to ours and the young car-jacker, who was on drugs, it turned out, received a shoulder wound. He was flashing gang hand signals and grinning for the cameras as he was loaded into an ambulance a short while later. It turned out he had been followed up and down through many different jurisdictions, for quite some time, which was why so many police and sheriff's vehicles from many different departments had all joined the chase.
Our van was impounded to check for bullet holes. The road was cordoned off for hours for the formal investigation that always follows a police shooting. By the time police officers asked us not to talk to anyone until after they had interviewed us, it was too late. Local TV reporter Lloyd LaCuesta had taped my gushing accolades and strong opinion that the police had no choice and that the one man crime wave would not have been stopped any other way.
My one complaint about the whole process is that I was dying to pee and had to wait a couple of hours before they took us for a ride in a nice black and white car, with little leg room and no door handles on the inside of the back doors.
I did go to court later as a witness for the prosecution of Mr. Gang-Banger.


  1. Well, now, that was an exciting day! Holy cow but I can't top that one.

    Then again, you do live in California....(This from a Jersey girl where such shows as "The Sopranos" are set. So I shan't go on about our reputation for crime.)

    I have great respect for the police most of the time. Every now and then, one needs to question, though. This story, however, illustrates law enforcement at its best. Amazing.

    Any bullets in your van? Hope not. *shiver*

  2. No, Jean. No bullets, but we sure didn't get to any meetings that day.

  3. Glad you got away without a scratch... I don't envy the officers who have to deal with maniacs like that on a daily basis. Why is it our society produces so many total lunatics ???

  4. See, now when the action stopped most people would have gone ahead and pee'd their pants...kudos to you for holding it!

  5. Just another day in the life of the English Rider and her French Artist Husband. Ho hum... I knew you wouldn't stay angry at Santa Clara County's finest for long. I hope you are feeling better toward all the wo/men in blue now.

  6. Now that's an adventure! Can't say I've had a bad experience with the Old Bill in my neck of the woods. They seem like a decent lot up here. I've even been let off speeding tickets.

  7. I like how you show your human side throughout the recollection. It didn't occur to you to "get down". You had to pee. It must have been similar to watching a movie as you say.