This past Friday night, I hung out at my friend Tom’s apartment for a housewarming. I left around 9:30, determined to make the 9:58 train from Harlem up to Cortlandt, where I live. I have a tendency to run late, and always stress myself out rushing to I thought I’d allot myself extra time.
I got into a car and was cruising up 1st Avenue. I was talking to my driver. He lived in Brooklyn and was asking about my move upstate. We realized we were both 31, and when I found out he grew up in Bay Ridge, I asked if he knew some of the girls I went to college with.
All of a sudden, I heard a thud and screams. My driver yelled, “I think a girl was just hit.” I had no clue how he could possibly see, but he swore he can see everything. We crossed 97th Street and he asked if it was cool that he pulled over to see if a person was ok. I saw a body lying in the street. I asked if I should call 911.
I jumped out of the car with my bag, my phone connecting to dispatch. I explained someone was hit on 97th and 1st, and there was a man lying on the ground. Blood was coming on to the pavement from this guy’s skull. His nose looked crushed (my driver later confirmed he was run over). Dispatch was connecting me to a medical unit, asking me how old he was. I started screaming to the crowd if anyone knew how old he was, we guessed 30s. Next thing I know I was asked if he was breathing. I had no clue, and then all of a sudden, his arm moved and I knew he was alive.
From the moment I called to when EMTs arrived, it was about 2 minutes. It felt like the longest 2 minutes of my life.
Knowing there wasn’t much left to do and knowing he was in good hands, the guy driving me and I decided to head back to the car, where the doors were wide open from our quick exit and head to the train. We were both running on adrenaline and couldn’t believe that we were just a part of this.
I rarely write anything super personal on this blog. Sure, I share my tips, favorite products, ways I save money, but this was a huge wake up call to me. I had never been that close to anyone hurt like that, and after living in the city for 8 years and still commuting in, I take for granted that fast pace of NYC. Now, I have no idea who was truly at fault since I didn’t see it happen, but I can’t think of how many times I’ve skirted across the street just to make a subway, get to work on time, and if a driver takes his or her eyes off the road for a second, something could happen. As for the driver of the accident, he stuck around, and was shook up. And as a driver, and someone who has driven in the city and was super anxious doing it, it reminded me that all the distractions – cell phone, radio – could truly hurt someone.
As for stopping at the accident, I have to commend my driver. There are plenty of times things happen in New York and no one stops to do anything. In a city with several million people, it’s easy to think that there is someone else that will stop and help – it’s called the bystander effect. If my driver didn’t stop, I wouldn’t have called 911.
Be careful out there. And as we’re reminded all the time, if you see something, say something. You might help someone in need.