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If you see something, do something: What it really means


See if this plot is familiar to you:

Happy couple says goodbye to each other on the morning before Valentine's Day as they climb into their respective vehicles to drive to work. Less than an hour later, one calls the other, in shock: A car accident, five cars, one flipped four times, lots of damage. But I'm OK.

Another call an hour later: Fire trucks, paramedics, police on scene. Eighty miles an hour on one-way street, driver fled. Witnesses chase him and notify police.

Happy couple reunites later.

Personally, I've seen similar plotlines on a multitude of cop, hospital, and detective programs. But this time, it was personal. I never fully realized that something like this could happen to me (although fortunately, I was not one of the seriously injured).

I was slowing for a stoplight in rush hour traffic when I heard squealing tires and then the unmistakable - and instantaneous - panic-inducing crunch of metal on metal as vehicles behind me collided violently. In the same millisecond, I saw a blue Jeep-type vehicle go airborne off the road into a parking lot, flip four times and hit a parked car. Then I was hit.

Witnesses said the car crossed all four lanes of traffic at high speed and never braked. The impact spun me sideways out into traffic, where he hit me again on my right side and shoved me into another car with my left side.

What happened next is why I am writing this column.

A man driving a tanker truck was out of his vehicle before the accident even registered with me. He sprinted to the person who flipped, then to the driver of the car that hit us. By then, I'd gotten out of my car and the trucker came over to check on me. He stayed at the scene for about two hours, helping all of us with his concern and his eye-witness account for the police.

I learned from police that the driver fled the scene on foot, and that witnesses who saw him followed him in their car. When he left the street, one of the people in the car jumped out and chased him down to the railroad tracks, where this Good Samaritan somehow subdued him until the police arrived.

The accident happened in front of a flooring company, where the Jeep vehicle that rolled crash-landed into an employee's car. I narrowly missed plowing into another employee who was still in her car at the time. These good people came streaming out of their office, provided a chair for me to use while I talked to the firemen, the paramedics, the police. They brought me water.

When the police moved the investigation into the company's office because of the cold that morning, employees provided coffee to warm me up.

All of these kind people give new meaning to the "See something, say something" mantra of today's social climate. For them, it was "See something, do something."

Thank you to the people of Colorado Carpet and Rug, thank you to Jerry the trucker whose last name I never learned. And thank you to the people who helped the police apprehend the person who caused this crash.

What you saw, and what you did, made an awful situation bearable for me that frosty morning on the day before Valentine's Day.

Andrea Doray is a writer who is fervently thankful that she was alone in the car (which has been declared a total loss). Contact her at a.doray@andreadoray.com.


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