Monday, June 2, 2008
Help Me Howard: Hit by car - Crushed by cop
Here is one for you. You are jogging, crushed by a hit and run driver, and when you are in the emergency room preparing for surgery a cop walks in and gives you a ticket. Unbelievable, but is it legal? Let's bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser for the legal lowdown.
WSVN -- When we walked into her hospital room, Dorie couldn't get up and won't be getting up for a long time.
Dorie Caldina: "Oh, my God, it was awful."
Dorie's story begins on a Saturday morning when she was jogging on 62nd Street in Fort Lauderdale, suddenly...
Dorie Caldina: "I just remember a car hitting me, and I said, 'Oh, no. Oh, no. Help me, help me.'"
As this graphic shows, Dorie was running west in the eastbound lane when a driver in a white Honda Civic swerved from the other lane and hit her.
Dorie Caldina: "You feel totally helpless. I mean there is nothing you can do. I was screaming, screaming, screaming, I mean the pain."
The driver never stopped and raced away. Dorie was rushed to Imperial Point Medical Center in terrible shape.
Dorie Caldina: "My whole left leg is totally damaged. If the two pins don't work, I have to have total hip replacement. He crushed every bone in my ankle. He broke over four or five bones, maybe even more in my foot and a bunch of my toes.
Doctors told Dorie it will be nine months before she can walk again. That hurts and so does a police officer who followed her to the emergency room that day.
Dorie Caldina: "And I told him, like thank you for being pretty nice."
As a nurse gave her medication to ease her pain. The police officer told Dorie why he was there.
Dorie Caldina: "'Well, I don't think you'll think we are nice after I tell you I have to give you a ticket.'"
With Dorie laying on the stretcher, the officer put a ticket for jogging on the road when sidewalk was provided.
Dorie Caldina: "So then the nurse just took it and put it with my shoes."
Dorie says she would have complained about the ticket at that time, but she could not.
Dorie Caldina: "Well, to tell you the truth I was about ready to cry cause I don't do good with any kind of pain."
Today the pain has eased but not the irritation at being ticketed while the driver who hit her and fled got away.
She is worried about the points on her license, worried about paying her bills when she can't work, and wondering was it right for a police officer to ticket her, even though she was the victim of a hit and run driver.
Howard Finkelstein: "This is a classic example of just because you have a right to do something, doesn't make it right to do it. Legally, the officer can write the ticket, but he also has the power to use discretion, and Dorie was punished enough. He should have been focused on finding the hit and run driver."
When I spoke to Fort Lauderdale Police, they told me that the officer was 100 percent right that, technically, Dorie is at fault, that she should have been on the sidewalk instead of jogging on the road. But then a spokesman told me they decided to rescind the ticket for now, that a hit and run investigator is trying to find the driver of the white Honda Civic. That eases Dorie's pain a little.
Dorie Caldina: "I want them to go after the party who hit me."
Getting her ticket wiped out while they look for the hit and run driver makes Dorie smile, and something else she discovered after getting hit makes her tear up.
Dorie Caldina: "Well, I found out I have a lot of friends because I have always been on my own and took care of myself."
Ms. Independent is going to be dependent on other people for the next few months. Her family really wants the driver of the car to be caught, and they told us they are offering a $2,000 reward.
If you know of a white Honda Civic that had some damage to the front fender in early May, call crime stoppers. The number is 954-493-TIPS. Stick a couple of grand in your pocket and allow someone to get a police escort to one of Broward County's fine facilities.
Hit by a problem crushing you? Need someone to run to? Contact us. We can't heal broken bones or hearts or tickets, but we know people who can.
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