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Who Put That SUV There!

March 14, 2008 - Erik Brown
Two people weren’t watching out for me as I ran along the street in front of my home in Hollidaysburg last Sunday afternoon. One of them was me.
Those who know me well will appreciate the irony of what happened to me as the result of my lapse of awareness of my surroundings. That’s because I am, by anyone’s standard, overly cautious. My old Coast Guard buddies would dispute that, but my family would call it an understatement. My 3.5 mile tour of my neighborhood is specifically designed to avoid busy streets. As an assistant coach for the Bishop Guilfoyle Cross Country Team, I was renowned for fretting about safety. Truly, I could spot a hazard in a padded room.
So, there I was, taking the last few strides of a seven mile run. I was pleased that I had loosened up nicely and had run the second loop at a brisk pace. The endorphins had kicked in and I was feeling that odd combination of exhilaration and serenity that we call the “runner’s high”.
My route ends directly in front of my house where Cedar Blvd. makes a “T” with Montgomery Street. I was running up the left hand side of Montgomery (approaching the “T” on my left). There is a house near the corner there (across from my home), with some shrubbery. But there is enough open ground on that corner that I should have noticed the Ford Expedition SUV that arrived at the corner shortly before I did. My gaze must have been focused downward and straight ahead. I couldn’t tell you if the driver, a 77 year old woman, stopped or drifted through the stop sign at the corner, because I never saw her vehicle. I assume that she must have been looking up the street to her left (away from me as I approached from her right) to check for traffic before making a very tight, right hand turn directly into my path.
In an instant I was literally jolted out of my pleasant state of mind, and into a sense of being in grave danger (“is there any other kind?” …a little Col. Jessep lingo there. Sorry, couldn’t resist). I looked up to see the grill of this enormous vehicle bearing down on me from an arm’s length away. I reflexively stuck out both hands onto the hood of the truck as it struck me. I heard the engine “rev” and knew that the driver’s foot was still on the gas pedal. I believe I shouted “Oh my God!” because I thought I would surely be knocked down and run over. The vehicle shoved / knocked me diagonally across the street toward my front yard. Thank God I was able to keep my feet moving and thank God the driver did quickly apply the brakes. Her vehicle stopped not more than 15 feet from where it first struck me and I managed to twist and stumble a couple more strides before tumbling forward with out-stretched hands onto the gravel along the edge of the street. I finally came to rest on the edge of my yard and was never so happy to be lying in the mud.
As soon as I hit the ground, I felt relief because I realized I was going to be OK. I was pretty sure that I hadn’t broken any bones, but my right shoulder hurt so badly I thought it was dislocated. The driver was upset and very apologetic. She asked me several times if she could take me somewhere. I replied each time that I was “in my yard” and “this is where I live”, but I don’t think it quite registered. One thing I was sure of, I wasn’t getting in her vehicle! I did I feel bad for her though because I knew I should have been more alert. You can never be too alert!
A neighbor witnessed the accident and called the police immediately. I want to thank Hollidaysburg’s finest and the Ambulance crew who were all on the scene in a matter of a very few minutes. As it turned out, I refused the ambulance transport. Instead, my wife Deanna drove me to the hospital. The X-rays were all negative and my shoulder, though incredibly sore, seems to be OK too.   
Fortunately, my story has a happy ending. While we were at the hospital I couldn’t stop thinking about how lucky I was to be alive and relatively uninjured. Deanna reminded me about another, tragic accident that occurred only a week before and our thoughts turned to Jasmine Campanaro, the 7th grade Hollidaysburg student who was killed in a vehicle / pedestrian accident near her school bus stop. May she rest in peace with God in Heaven and may Jasmine’s family as well as the young driver of the vehicle, and her family, all be comforted by the Holy Spirit.
I have just one final word to my fellow runners. Let’s all be careful and alert out there. Drivers too!

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