By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
I was lying on my bed, watching the tube. Suddenly, the awful sound of a crash shattered my channel-surf-ing mood.
No screech of brakes. No blaring horn. Just a loud, dull bang. I threw down the remote and ran out the front door. I looked up and down the street. Nothing seemed amiss on this quiet Sunday after Thanksgiving, but it was hard to see. There aren’t enough streetlights along my stretch of North Hollywood‘s Magnolia Boulevard.
I walked slowly back to my apartment, trying to figure out what had happened. In the darkness, I made out a large object at the foot of my driveway. Oh, great, I thought, some fools tossed something from their car as they sped away.
As I got closer, I could see two legs. It was a woman, lying faceup on the ground, and she wasn’t moving.
I didn‘t expect to see this. It was surreal. And, for an instant, I froze.
Snapping out of it, I blurted, “Lady, are you hurt bad?” No response. Bending down, I nudged her. “Can you hear me?” Still nothing. My God, I thought, someone ran this poor woman down and didn’t even stop.
I stood up and ran into my house. Grabbing the cordless phone, I punched in 911 and raced back outside. “I got a woman down. She‘s been hit by a car and she’s hurt real bad. We need the paramedics here fast,” I shouted at the emergency operator.
I told her my address, and she switched me to a male voice. I don‘t know who he was. I bent down next to the woman. It was so dark, I couldn’t see her face. I shook her again. Still no response. Two women walked up, and I yelled, “Did you see the accident?” “No,” said one, “but I saw the car leaving. It was a small car.”
Everything around me seemed to slow down. The voice on the other end of my line began asking questions. “Is she moving?” “No,” I responded. “Is she conscious?” “No.” “Is she breathing?” “I don‘t think so,” I said. “Check her breathing,” he ordered. “Put your hand on her chest.”
“She’s not breathing,” I answered. “Are you sure?” he asked. “Put your hand on her chest. Check her nose.” I did it again. I felt for a pulse. “She‘s not breathing,” I repeated. “Are you sure?” he demanded. “Yes, I’m sure. I checked,” I yelled.
“Can you start CPR?” he asked. “I can‘t see a damn thing. It’s too dark,” I responded. “I have to get a flashlight. Hold on. Hold on. Don‘t hang up,” I shouted. “I have to go back into my house. I have to find a light.”
It seemed to take forever. “Okay, I found one,” I said as I ran outside. I got back to the woman and shined the light in her face. She was about 60, I thought, with streaks of gray in her hair.
“Oh my God,” I said. “Her mouth is open. Her eyes are open. She’s not breathing. I think this woman is dead.” “Can you start CPR?” he repeated. “I don‘t know how to do it,” I said quietly. I felt helpless. “That’s all right. I can walk you through it. Can you try?” he asked.
I said nothing for a moment. I figured this woman had massive internal injuries. I didn‘t want to press on her chest. I was afraid a mistake would cost her any possible chance to survive. Finally, I told myself, “Jim, you have to try this. You don’t know what you are doing, but you have to try it anyway.”
Just then the paramedics and fire truck arrived. It was about 6 p.m. Within seconds, emergency workers were attaching equipment to the woman. Minutes later it was over. They pronounced her dead. A paramedic pulled a white sheet from the truck and covered her body.
LAPD black-and-whites began pulling up. I saw jewelry and pieces of her key chain scattered along the road. One of her tennis shoes lay next to the driver‘s-side door of my car. Her other shoe was found on the grass near my front window. From the trail of her belongings, I estimated the woman must have been thrown about 30 feet by the collision. I picked up her earrings, a house key and key ring, and gave them to a firefighter. I figured if a miracle happened, they should send them to the hospital with her.
Police blocked off the street as a paramedic brought out yellow police tape and cordoned off the area near the body. My front yard became a crime scene. Ten to 15 minutes after the woman was pronounced dead, a black Nissan was let through the police line. A guy, who appeared to be in his 20s, walked up to a firefighter and said he was in the car that struck the woman. Police took him and the driver, a young woman, also in her 20s, down the street and talked to them for at least 45 minutes. Then they were free to go, the woman’s death deemed an accident. Her mistake: trying to cross a dark street in the middle of the block.
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