Fleeing the scene

Dylan and I were sitting in the living room last night.  He was reading his latest fantasy novel; I was into the final chapters of John Irving's latest, when we heard a very unfamiliar thud come from outside.

We looked at each other, each with a quizzical look on our faces.  It was a second or two later, when we noticed a guy walking his dogs on the sidewalk in front of our house turn around and start moving in the direction of the sound.

Pajama bottoms and bare feet, I rushed outside with Dylan close behind to find a smoking truck about half a block away, right in front of Ben's friend Spencer's place.  The truck that had zoomed by us just a minute earlier, had careened into a couple of vehicles at the curvy spot on the street, the narrowest spot in the thoroughfare where it is impossible for two vehicles to pass at the same time when there are cars parked on both sides of the road.

Smoke was billowing out of the front end as neighbors began gravitating to the scene of the crash.  Dylan and I opted to go slip on our Crocs and watch from a safe distance.

Neighbor Norm, a former EMT from his days on Vancouver Island, headed to the scene, his paramedic instincts kicking right in.  It took two or three minutes, but eventually the driver opened his door and apparently attempted to flee the scene.  From what I understand, one neighbor chased him down through the water-logged grassy connection between our street and the one that runs parallel to it.  Norm followed behind, in support, and ended up tackling the guy.

I can't imagine what goes through someone's mind when they choose the flight response.  How did he hope to get away? What could he possibly have been thinking?  Dozens of residents had watched him stumble from his truck and take off down the path.  He was driving a truck that - unless it was stolen - would lead the RCMP right to his house.  This was an unforced error that was going on his score sheet no matter what.

The truth is that the moment he took a step in the escape direction, his legal troubles jumped to a whole new level.

I won't speculate beyond that which I know; I will leave that up to the investigators to figure out.  But I know the guy was driving too fast down a residential street.  We appropriately rage at what happens on Highway 63 when people get hurt because of bad driving habits.  Maybe we need to equally rage at drivers who take advantage of quiet neighborhood streets to put the pedal to the metal.

Exacerbating the situation on our street, and I'm sure many others in Fort McMurray, is the proliferation of on-street parking.  As activity continues to ramp up in Wood Buffalo, I've noticed an incremental increase in the number of big trucks parked on the block.  Vacant bedrooms are being offered up to renters, multiple guys and gals from the same contracting company are staying in houses together - each driving a vehicle, and units for sale are being scooped up and quickly occupied.

All's well that ends well. The smoke cleared, police and fire personnel arrived, the driver was tackled, and a vehicular inferno was avoided.  Neighbors eventually turned around and returned to their television shows, homework, computer games and myriad other activities that had instantly been put on hold to check out the action on the street.

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