It's not important that I know -- that's nothing -- but I saw a car wreck last night; by which I mean there was a car, then there was a wreck.
I couldn't have been the only witness.
It was closer to one AM than midnight. I was on my way home after the second shift of the day -- relaxed even though I was exhausted, because I'd worked locally and was close to home, familiar with the route.
Still, I must have had some 'tunnel vision' going on. Not just in my memory but at the time, the road seemed darker than I think it really is, and not just that, I don't know exactly where along the road I was -- I was tired, the road was empty...I had a few simple miles to go and only had to make sure nothing happened.
In this tunnel-of-vision I had, I saw headlights approaching, about a mile away, and fast, at an angle that disagreed with my memory of the long, lazy bend in the road up ahead. The car was crossing toward and into my two on-coming lanes, with what I thought was purpose and what I think was a speed of more than 80 or so, on a suburban 4-lane "main road". I was paying a lot of attention to driving myself home; I was doing fine at that but I wasn't thinking quickly enough to recall whether the angle that car was taking aimed it toward some new sidestreet extension I wasn't remembering.
It wasn't. Head-on, the car didn't get closer to me than, say, 50 yards but after it crossed my path and I didn't-know-it-was-offroad, it was maybe 50 feet from me when I saw it hit a bump (rock, hedge? no clue) as we passed each other, saw a wound of a sparking in the undercarriage and something was horrible. I couldn't see what was happening or what lawns it was probably driving over, but the way the headlights bounced independently sure scared the fuck out on me all of a sudden.
I watched for a second or so over my shoulder. The car pinioned up on its front-right wheel, I think, then its fender. It rolled along its front bumper. Smoke, dust. There were some noises I think I'm suppressing.
It isn't important what I saw; I don't know. My thought was "oh shit". My first reaction was say "Oh shit," then grab the cellphone on the seat... realize I don't have local police programmed, then to think to keep driving safely enough on an empty road.
I dialed home and asked the wife...told the wife, please, call the cops, and where I was, and what had happened, and call the cops, and goodbye.
The cellphone rings back; I grab it; she says, "They're on it."; I say, "Thanks." and put it down. I think I hang up. She calls back to tell me I hung up on her and am I in shock. I tell her I'm fine, but I hung up because I'm driving. I'm sure I hang up.
I don't know that four minutes has elapsed at this point. I believe that I was only physically capable, at the time, of me and my car being in the way of someone who could assist. I'm not Superman, I didn't devise a plan to save the person or persons who were in danger.
There's nothing important about me-knowing-what-happened. First responders got the information faster than I could get it to them. But I don't know if I saw someone die this morning. I did a couple of standard Google searches. I didn't find local blotter information that matched, in the past 24 hours.
I'm not just curious; it bothers me. Any suggestions of normal channels I could use to find out something?
Sun May 19, 2013 at 8:27 AM PT: OK, following the good advice below, I've called the local PD.
The dispatcher put me through to the voice mail for the officer in charge of the accident report. Left my contact info, along with what I assume is a fairly rambling message.
We'll see if the officer feels the needs to call back,
Sun May 19, 2013 at 9:48 AM PT: The local paper includes a one-line blotter note about the accident, reporting it as "with injuries". Even if I don't find out anything more, I guess that's as good as confirmation that I didn't watch someone die.