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The publication of the International Press Assoc.


October 29, 2011

Nightmare on 45th Street • Halloween Week-End

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Written by: Len Rapoport
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Friday Was A Beautiful Day

un was shining, the air was brisk and I was headed to the great PDN Photoplus Show in New York.  Photoplus is the largest photographic show in our area and is a three day event starting on Oct. 27 and running through Saturday Oct. 29th.

I visit this show each year to video tape and learn about all the new products being introduced so I can write my show review for our web sites.  Watch for my videos and articles on the show here soon.  Friday was my last day to attend the show, two days was enough and I was going to try to beat the rush hour traffic home. I went to my car parked on 31st Street where I parked in a convenient “Press Parking Only” area and began what was to become, a strange trip home.  I started, what was to be, a feeble attempt to get into the Lincoln Tunnel and back to New Jersey.

The traffic was especially heavy and every street I tried  was simply not moving. I decided to try to go further uptown and then come back to the tunnel from another direction.  So I went to 10th Avenue which runs one way, North.  I would try to go West on 45th Street, which was one way as well and then back toward the tunnel approach.

The Accident

At around 5:33 PM, I was driving north on 10th Avenue.  The traffic light was green on the corner of 45th Street and as I passed a huge Hess gas station on the left side of the street I noticed a car parked on the corner in a no standing zone. He wasn’t moving at the green light, so I assumed he was simply parked there. I proceeded slowly into my left turn onto 45th Street.  As I went into my turn,  I heard a thud sound on my drivers door.  I wasn’t sure what it was and didn’t even realize I got hit until I saw the bumper of the parked car up against my door.  I was now pinned in the car and couldn’t open my door.  I tried to get loose, by moving forward and then in reverse but I couldn’t move the car.

I opened my window and yelled for the other driver to back up so I could move my car out of the street.  He backed his car and as you can see from the photos, did even more damage to my car. He apparently hit my door, then when he backed up, his bumper caused the additional damage to the back door. He probably wasn’t going fast and most likely only went a few feet, just enough to go into my door while I was into my turn. You can also see that the only part of his car that shows any damage is his front left (street side) bumper and which isn’t even dented. I can only assume that he just moved into my path slow enough to grab my car, but not fast enough to damage his bumper (which is rubber) or seriously dent my door.

His car was parked behind the line near the curb.

My first reaction was anger and I got out of the car and asked this driver what he was thinking.  He said he didn’t see me coming and I hit him.  I tried to explain that he hit me and even showed him where and how, but it was a waste of time as you will see in my video.  I thought to myself, all he had to do was simply look out of his right mirror to see if any other cars were coming, then once it was safe, he could proceed.  Unfortunately, he probably never bothered to look to see if it was safe for him to proceed.

The driver was a middle aged man, that didn’t speak or understand English that well.  He had his eight year old son in the back seat of the car and told me he was going to the Flat Repair store on 45th Street, just around the corner.  I then noticed he had a flat tire on his rear drivers side, probably the reason for him sitting on the side of the street and not moving.  Now the light bulb lit up in my head. He had a flat, had his son in the back seat, was parked on the side of the street and decided to pull forward and make his turn to go to the nearby flat repair shop. With all that going on, I can understand why he forgot to check his rear view or side view mirror to see if any other cars were coming or possibly making that same left turn.

Now as our dialogue about the accident continued , a traffic officer on her motor scooter stopped and tried to calm him down as he was yelling at me .  He did not want to exchange license or insurance information nor even exchange names, you will see this in the video.  The officer told me she would call in the accident and try to get a police car to respond to take the report.  As minutes ticked away and no one seemed to be coming, I asked her to do me a favor and check to see if he had a drivers license. I thought of course he was either unlicensed, uninsured or illegal.  She checked and told me he has a license.

I Called 911 – Three Times In Two Hours

Clearly No Real Damage To His Car

For the next two hours, as you will see in my video,  I pleaded with him to simply exchange information with me so we could get on our way.  Unfortunately, he didn’t understand how to handle yourself in an accident. It could have been a very easy deal and both he and I could have simply exchanged information and gone on our way. I think the photos here will show anyone that looks at them exactly what happened and who was at fault.

Now you can see from the photos here that he had only some scratches on his front passenger side bumper that was mostly his paint which rubbed off on my car and not much else.  Yet this small incident seemed to be one he couldn’t cope with and he kept repeating that “You did a very bad thing” to me.  It was almost comical, but as I stood in the cold waiting for the police and calling 911 three times in two hours, what I thought was comical became bizarre.

How do people get drivers licenses and not know some of the basics?  How did he pass a drivers test?  What was wrong with our 911 Emergency system in New York when three calls from me and three from the other driver still didn’t get a response?  We both agreed our mistake was telling the 911 operators that we were not hurt, I am sure if we were injured the priority would change.

You will hear in my video that I even called my insurance company to find out if it was OK for me to leave the accident.  After all, I had his license plate number and lots of photos and videos. The problem my insurance agent told me was that if the police did show up, his story would be the only one they would hear. This would not be good for me, because he could weave a tale the way he wanted it to be and they might believe him. I asked my agent if he would speak to the other driver for me. Maybe he could convince him to exchange information with me.  As you will see, that didn’t work either.

Two Hours Later – Police Arrive

At around 7:30 PM, I finally saw a police car down the block and flagged it down.  What I thought was a police car, was actually another traffic officer vehicle. I explained to the nice officer what my situation was, my frustration with the other driver and 911.  She was just calling in to her station and I noticed two police cars across the street and ran to down the street with my arms waving in the air.

Finally, I thought to myself, we would be able to settle this matter. I thanked the traffic officer and she left as the police car pulled in behind her car.  Two nice officers came out, I explained my story to one officer and the other officer went to hear the other drivers version.  I asked them why it took so long to respond and they told me they were never told about the accident from the 911 dispatch office and simply stopped because I was in the middle of the street waving my arms.  Can you imagine if I didn’t do that, I would be there all night.  Unbelievable, after 6 total calls and two from the traffic officer to her dispatcher and no one shows.  Each time I did call 911, they kept telling me they see my report in the system and couldn’t tell me when an officer would arrive, not much help.

I explained to the police officer my side of the story and pointed out that he had a flat tire.  I explained how his car appeared to be parked because it was not moving on a green light.  He had no emergency lights flashing  to let drivers know he was disabled.  His car was the only vehicle parked in that No-Standing zone.

Furthermore he attempted to  have one of the mechanics from the repair shop  change his tire before the police arrived. I stopped this and warned the mechanic to stop because it was part of my proof  that would validate my side of this incident.  He did return to the shop, but I was able to get a photo showing that  he was ready to jack the car up and repair the flat.

I wanted to show the police my video, so they could see the person I was dealing with and his constant refusal to exchange information, but they said if it wasn’t of the actual accident, they didn’t need to see it. I am not sure what the police report will say but hope they will show a true picture of the events of the night. I was finally able to reach someone at the 18th Precinct and was told week-ends are rough, staff is thin, but I finally found a nice man who gave me the number I needed for my insurance company.

Because of all the budget cuts, cities like New York are being hard pressed to give its residents the services they have come to expect.  The 911 systems are broken, police can’t respond to calls unless they are high priority and the New York City  police precincts have a shortage of staff.  The world is a different place now with many more challenges for all of us, we must all try to help each other, it is the only way we will survive.

Now that I have my complete story published here and I have uploaded the video both here and on YouTube, I hope it will show both  insurance companies exactly what happened.  I no longer carry collision insurance on this older car, it didn’t pay now since the value of the car is only a few thousand dollars now.  It will be important now to prove to his insurance company it was entirely his fault and they will cover the repair costs and the strike won’t go against my policy.  Funny, his insurance company is Geico and two years ago another Geico customer hit me from the back while I was standing behind other cars at a red light.  What are the chances, two for two and both insured by Geico.

Accidents Happen, It Is Part Of Life

Accidents happen. Some are quite serious and life threatening, while others can be brushed off as a minor inconvenience.  Unfortunately for me, what would have been a minor accident and certainly an inconvenience for me.  I have to deal with the insurance companies, take my car in for an estimate on the repairs, during the repairs I will be without the use of this car.

Unfortunately for me, the individual who hit me made this inconvenience so much more then it had to be.  He simply didn’t understand what an accident is.

“An accident is an unexpected and undesirable event, especially one resulting in damage or harm”

Even as attempted to explain that is was simply a minor accident and we both have insurance to cover the costs, he didn’t get it.  For me, I was thankful that no one was hurt and feel lucky I can now move on.

It was a bad Halloween Friday night in New York City and the first traffic officer said to me,

It must be Friday the 13th, I have never seen so many crazies out as I have seen tonight.

  I am not sure if we had a full moon that night, but I do think I heard some howling from a distant location as I was pulling away from the scene to go back home.

Watch The Video Now
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About the Author

Len Rapoport
Len Rapoport
IPA Editor-In-Chief, ID: 1000 • I am an internationally published photographer and the founder of International Press Association. As president and editor-in-chief, my duties at IPA are extensive. For over 40 years I have written articles, had my photos published in millions of publications, record album covers, books, and in the digital media. I was senior marketing and sales executive for major corporations, including my own and as a corporate communications consultant. I have taught photography and formed IPA 20 years ago. I currently work from my home office and continue to actively cover media events in addition to all of my other IPA and IMPress responsibilities.



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