James (phasemaster) wrote,

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more tales from the hood

A car flipped on my street tonight, about 500 feet down from my house. I remember hearing a *whoosh* of sorts, followed by a metallic crash, and looking out the window to ascertain the source of the downright unnatural noise. But a quick survey of my limited view revealed only the familiar sight of a party across the street. After a couple moments of looking around, I was perplexed, but willing to believe that it could have originated from some drunken revelry across the street, with a table being sent crashing into the ground. A giant, metallic, able-to-displace-a-ton-of-air-during-its-fall, table. I went back to reading. Confused, but not all that surprised.

But around 20 minutes later, when red hazard lights began to paint their way through my curtains, I finally realized that some shit was up. Explosion, I was thinking. The only thing that could have explained the whoosh of air that I heard (aside from, of course, that huge table my neighbors must have). Certain of the uniqueness of the situation at this point, I put on some shoes and went outside. I was greeted by the arrival of two more fire trucks supported by the same number of police cruisers converging just a bit down the street. A mass of people had already gathered outside, as I walked quickly but hesistantly down the line of LAFD/LAPD vehicles now gathered so close to my house. I kept expecting to see flames, or a house that had spewed wood and glass onto the street in the aftermath of a natural gas explosion, but despite my getting closer to the end of the line of city vehicles, I couldn't seem to see what had spawned all of these people or this feeling of chaos. Until I saw the car. Or rather, the undercarriage of a car, lying on its side, dormant. I had only a moment to pause: as if on cue, firefighters began running toward the vehicle, a couple of them with a piece of equipment I could only imagine would be the so-called jaws of life.

They immediately began trying to pry open the downed vehicle, which I realized was now a van. My obvious question, "Is someone still in there?" had its answer. But the disturbing thing is that the ambulance which had arrived on the far side of this capsized wreck just kind of loomed there. Its gurney motionless, and not an EMT anywhere nearby. Putting this together with the fact that the firefighters were no longer prying the van open, and the lack of fanfare that I would imagine would accompany the actual rescue of someone from a downed vehicle; I could only conclude that the driver and any passengers in the vehicle had suffered such severe trauma as to be declared dead on the spot. Of course, it is possible that one or more persons in the wrecked van had already been extracted from all of that twisted metal before I got close enough to figure out what had happened. I mean, the light from the emergency vehicles did have the effect of washing out my vision with flashes of red. But the somber professionalism and reservedness of the LAFD crews present seemed to tell a different story. That somebody, or some people; died tonight. Not 500 feet from where I sit right now.

I was able to snap a couple of poor-quality pictures with my cell phone. You can't see much, but the gravity and surreality of the scene is unmistakeable.

Notice that the firefighters' flashlights are pointed down at the street. Not into the crashed vehicle, as one would think if someone were still alive inside.

Yes, I did blur out the name on the street sign. This is the internet, after all.

As if I didn't need another reason to refrain from parking on the street (aside from people breaking into my car). As much as I hate speedbumps, they may be the only way from putting a stop to the use of my street as a high speed/drunken thoroughfare.
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