Have you experienced a hit and run vehicle accident? I know many of you have. And like other crimes of theft and aggression, it left me dazed. Although I was not injured physically, I admit I was shook up. Fortunately, my son Jon was nearby and drove over to a Taco Bell parking lot where I had gone to collect my thoughts. His advice and expert sleuthing techniques provided the perfect antidote to the mental anguish and trauma I experienced by seeing my recently restored Acura sedan damaged by a troubled young man.
About an hour after I said goodbye to Jon at Taco Bell, he texted me the driver’s name, address, date of birth, and criminal history. The driver had recently been released from prison. Based on what we know today about sentencing for possession and other non-violent crimes, I hesitate to brand the driver as a horrible person, although he may be.
Following is the personal therapeutic technique I adopted into the late hours of Tuesday/Wednesday of this week. I initially started writing the following letter to the driver not knowing what I would demand or threaten. Ultimately I decided not to reveal my identity. Why open a can of worms or trouble? Perhaps better to say, as Judy stated during my late night tribulation, “I know who you are and I saw what you did”.
Here is an edited version of what I mailed for $1.19 postage to the owner/driver/who knows:
June 20, 2017
Dear Hit and Run Driver,
(actually addressed to the registered person/address)
This evening, as I was leaving The Pines at Woodcreek apartment complex about 6:47 PM, I drove across southbound lanes into the center turning area of Aldine Westfield Road preparing to go north on Aldine Westfield. Before crossing the southbound lanes, I had looked to my left at the oncoming traffic heading south toward me on Aldine Westfield and knew I had adequate time to cross to the middle of the road and wait there beyond the southbound lanes for a gap in the northbound traffic. Suddenly, I felt and heard a loud crash. I knew the white car I had seen traveling south in the inside lane had struck the rear end of my green 2002 Acura 3.2 TL Type-S vehicle.
I looked to the south and saw that white four door sedan slowing and hoped the driver would stop or circle back to exchange information. The driver then activated the car’s emergency flashers and sped off continuing south on Aldine Westfield. I sat and watched as the car disappeared in traffic to the south. I waited for a while wondering what to do. After a couple minutes, I drove directly across the road into the driveway of a large business facility there and parked not far from the road hoping the driver of the white sedan would return.
I got out and took some photos of the damage to my car. Soon a Hispanic male in a black Ford F-150 truck drove into the parking lot of the business and parked in a space about 100 feet away. He got out and walked toward me with a cell phone in his hand. He seemed friendly; not threatening. He showed me a picture on his phone of the white sedan that had struck the back end of my car. In his photo, damage to the left front fender of the white sedan could be seen and the Texas license plate number XXX-### was clearly visible. Also obvious in the photo was the Ford sedan driving recklessly through the intersection of Aldine Westfield and East Richey Road against traffic lights, weaving behind a left turning tanker truck and in front of an oncoming white pickup that was attempting a left turn. The unknown Hispanic male shared the photo with me and described how he had witnessed the incident. He had been following the white sedan and noted it was traveling aggressively, the driver not paying attention as he clipped the rear of my Acura. The Hispanic man followed the white Ford four door sedan to where it ran the lights of the intersection at Richey Road, nearly causing another accident. At that point he had captured the photo of the white sedan on his cell phone. The Hispanic male then said goodbye to me, returned to his truck and drove off.
A security guard for the company on whose driveway I was parked came to me on a golf cart and told me I would have to leave. So I went to the nearby Taco Bell parking lot and called 911. As a result, two Harris County Sheriff cars arrived at Taco Bell about 7:30 PM. They ran the license plate number and confirmed it was assigned to a white four door sedan registered to someone on the east side of Houston. No other details of that information were shared with me.
The deputies found I had only liability coverage on my vehicle and discussed the issues I might face in filing an accident report. I thanked them and went on my way.
My vehicle is important to me. I bought it about 16 years ago. After I and other family members had driven it 175,000 miles, it was in pretty bad shape. Over the past 18 months, I have worked on the vehicle, replacing many damaged parts, performing engine, transmission, and interior repairs, and sanding its surfaces by hand to prep it for paint. Finally I had it painted and have been very proud to own it. This car is my primary transportation.
I don’t know you but believe you were either the driver of the white Ford sedan or know who the driver was. As one person to another, I am sharing this information with you in a non-threatening spirit. I have no intention of suing or seeking any legal or other aggressive action.
I have not had a repair estimate yet but am very familiar with the components of my vehicle. At the very minimum it will need a bumper cover, license plate, tag light, wiring harness, straightening of the stainless Tanabe exhaust, adjustment of left rear panel, trunk lid, and right rear panel. Painting of those affected body components will be required.
I am not interested in hearing from you or getting anything from you. I do hope you will think about how your actions affect others. Further, I hope that for your sake and the happiness of your loved ones that you will seek help or get close to someone or something that will bring safety and stability to your life.
The 70 Year Old Vietnam Veteran Driver of the Green Acura sedan.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017, the first day of summer with a tropical storm brewing in the Gulf, I set out for a body shop in north Harris County where I had received some good work done in the past. Unfortunately the place was no longer in business. And the place in Conroe where the excellent painting of the Acura had been done last year was no longer in business. So I drove back up Kuykendall Road toward The Woodlands to Caliber Collision where I had previously had some insurance repairs done. There my long term contact, Ramone, took a look at my sad old Acura and offered some sage advice. Because I had done so much work on the car myself, he recommended a couple of independent shops that are privately owned and are not bound by the restrictions placed on shops like Caliber that deal with the major auto insurance companies.
Ramone’s first referral was a muffler shop. During restoration, I had installed an expensive exhaust system on the Acura. The right side muffler had been pushed to the side resulting in a bent pipe that needed to be straightened. Ramone said they always take their customer’s cars to Busy Bee Muffler on FM 2920 and charge a markup over what Busy Bee charges. I went there and made an appointment for next day to get that thing straightened.
Ramone also mentioned some good online places where I might purchase an after-market bumper cover. Online I found a place where I can get a pre-painted bumper cover to match the Noble Green Pearl paint of the Acura.
Wednesday evening, I removed the damaged bumper cover, and spliced the wiring for the license plate light. It works! Used some “balin” wire to attach the license plate to the ugly actual, and usually unseen, bumper to be legal until I receive and install the new bumper cover. After removal of the damaged bumper cover the alignment of the rear panels and the trunk lid seem to be pretty good. One remaining problem will be a crease on the back side of the trunk lid. After buffing it out, the crease became even more apparent. I had hoped it would not be significant but it is clearly visible.