Thursday, February 20, 2014

Child #3 hits a parked car: a cautionary tale

Last week, I received a text from Child #3: "i just clipped someones side mirror and left a note with my cell and our home numbers"

I texted back, "good thinking"

Now, we know it wasn't good thinking. At least, it wasn't enough good thinking.

What happened: Child #3 came home for lunch from high school and was driving to his afternoon science class. He dropped his chocolate bar, leaned over to pick it up (argh!!), and swerved into a parked car, knocking off the mirror.* He pulled over to the curb, tore a page from his notebook, wrote his name, two contact phone numbers and an apology. He slid said note under the windshield wiper, placed the mirror on the sidewalk, texted me and went on to class.

What happened next: A couple of hours later, a man phoned our house. He was the son-in-law of the car owner. Grandma was babysitting when my Twix-munching son hit her car. Anyway, I was running out the door to pick up Child #4 from school and take her to ballet class, so we (the man and me) agreed to all meet that evening and figure out how we'd (the Summys) pay for the damage, hopefully without involving our insurance.

Then: I'm sitting on a bench, watching Child #4 twirl and point her toes, when I get a panicked call from Child #3. To put this in perspective, Child #3 rarely panics. Perhaps this is due to years of water polo. Or perhaps he has a special keep-cool gene (probaby from Mr. Summy's side of the family). Perhaps he figures life will work itself out. Anyway...

Child #3: "Mom! The sheriff just called my cell and said I have to come back to the car I hit immediately, or I'll be arrested."
Me: "What?"
Child #3: "He said it was a hit and run."
Me: "What? Don't go by yourself. I'll call Dad. He can come home from work and go with you. I'm stuck at ballet."

The cautionary part: In California (I don't know about anywhere else), when you leave a note on a car you've hit, the note must include your name, your address, your phone number, your car insurance info including company name and policy #. Otherwise, it's considered a hit-and-run.

Odds and ends: The daughter of the car owner called the sheriff. I have no idea why. Maybe she just wanted a police report? The sheriff was pretty rough on Child #3, reiterating that he'd be arrested and accusing him of avoiding phone calls. Which wasn't true. There were no missed calls. Our incident got a bit more complicated because the insurance card in Child #3's glove box was expired. This was cleared up with an email from the insurance company. In Calif, you can show proof of insurance on your smart phone.

On the bright side, no one was hurt. And we learned a good lesson.

*The damage was more than a knocked-off mirror. There were 3 dents, to the tune of $3,000 + in body work repairs. Apparently, Nissan Maximas are made of cardboard. Our Toyota Rav 4 is fine. So, if you happen to be in the market for a car...


Sarah Laurence said...

Yikes! I'm relieved no one was hurt and thanks for sharing your advice. What a stressful experience for you son and you!

Kelly H-Y said...

Goodness gracious ... what an afternoon!!