Saturday, January 8, 2011

With Photos: Real-Life Cops: Over the Parking Lot and Through The Woods...

Over the Parking Lot and Through The Woods the Drunk Driver Goes

One of those less glamorous things, but still a thing that I very much appreciate about living in Cleveland Heights is the Cleveland Heights Police Department. Normally they're pretty much ubiquitous but out of the way; when you call them though...

This department is, from my understanding, one of the most highly educated in Ohio with a shocking percentage holding graduate degrees. To avoid disrupting the neighborhood, they also have a lights-but-no-sirens-unless-necessary policy; tonight, for example, I don't think a single siren was used.

Anyway, tonight I was sitting in my living room starting to type my comments for tonight's Cleveland Orchestra concert when I noticed headlights in the parking lot of the elementary school right next door to my house... These lights would normally catch my attention--since there's little legitimate reason for a car to be in an school parking lot at 10:30 on a Saturday.

Tonight, though, they particularly caught my attention because they seemed to be moving at a very high rate of speed and at a strange angle (what was I saying a few days ago about Situational Awareness?).. sure enough, not long after I had looked up. Crash. I see the lights crossing the line of the fence and small thicket of trees that separates my town home building's parking lot from that of the elementary school. Crash. Bang. The lights haven't slowed down at all. But they disappear from view. I assume that they've hit the driveway and are now out on Euclid Heights Boulevard after taking a rather reckless shortcut.

I dial 911. "Police, Fire, or EMS?". At this point I'm thinking reckless driver. "Police".
"What's going on?" well. You just read the last paragraph.

While describing what I had seen though, I realize that I'm hearing a horn sounding constantly. Not the nice musical kind of horn, either. "I think there's probably going to need to be EMS, too."
"We'll get someone out there."
The call ends.

I run out back to try to find out where the horn is coming from, thinking they might be out in the street. I find smoke coming out of a neighbor's garage. I meet two of my neighbors from across the street who have also come to of them is a nurse and makes her way over the mangled bottom of the garage door and into the garage.

"She's wasted."
"Can we turn the ignition off"

The other neighbor is calling 911 again.
I run out into the street to keep an eye out for the police. They're at the end of the street. I flag them down. (side note -- trying to flag a police officer down at night while wearing a black suit is a somewhat daunting proposition).

This is the part I love about Cleveland Heights: Faster than I could time -- no more than two or three minutes -- there were no less than eleven Cleveland Heights Police Officers on scene. Back in Southern California, the two occasions where I had use for police, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department could be counted on to arrive in about half an hour.

The Cleveland Heights Fire Department wasn't far behind.

The worked quickly, took reports. I tried calling my neighbor; no answer. I have no idea who the renters are or how to get hold of them. I keep trying my neighbor.

I've never seen this many police in the same place at the same time

Meanwhile, the area around my home looks like a real-life version of Cops: two crusiers blocking one end of Euclid Heights Bouleveard, a fire truck blocking the other, in between, another fire truck, an ambulance, and a half dozen police crusiers in between. In the parking lot behind my home there are three more crusiers (as I'm writing this, there are still four back there seemingly providing security until the garage door can be boarded up).

Activity in my parking lot

I'm invited into one of the cars to fill out a report (the one in front of the ambulance below) -- this is my first time in the back of a cruiser and I have to say that it's a little tight on leg room but it really smells fantastic. Truly; I need some of whatever air freshener that officer is using, 'cuz if you can make a police car smell that good I can't imagine what you can do with a normal car.

Even more police

As I'm walking back, the driver passes by on a stretcher. The general consensus is that she's wasted, and the only thing that saved her was apparently the school parking lot has a high enough curb that it slowed her down a little bit.

She still hit the garage door--and the back wall of the garage -- with enough force, apparently, to destroy the bathroom on the other side of that wall.

I have an investigator ring my doorbell a few times between then and now; I give him what information I know. I loan him a copy of the Yellow Pages.

One officer mentions that if it had been you or I driving we'd likely be dead; the amount of alcohol in her system plus the quick response may have saved her.

But Thank God I live in Cleveland Heights, where a under-five minute response time is the norm rather than the exception.



  1. Wow, what a crazy story. I think the fast response between you and your neighbor who is a nurse was also key in saving this girls life. Have you heard how she ended up? Here in Indianapolis we have too many cops driving drunk themselves to successfully save the civilian :(

  2. I haven't heard yet but I'm very curious; when I saw the stretcher leave it looked like she was a bit bloody but concious. The local paper usually publishes the Police Blotter on Thursdays so I'm hoping there might be something tomorrow.

    Talk about a crazy story though -- a DUI cop? I don't think I've heard of that one before. What a tragedy.