I was 17 when I got hit by a car. I don't recall seeing my life flash in front of my eyes. I did see the world spin.
I had borrowed my older brother's mountain bike to go riding with a friend of mine by the Mississippi, and then dropped by Cedarfest to hang out with friends and see some of them play in bands. I was riding the bike home when the car came out of nowhere on Franklin and hit me. I was about 4 blocks from my house.
I seem to remember grunting in surprise, and the world tumbling, lopsided and fast, in every which way. Then a thump as I landed in the street. Then the squeal of tires, and a crunch, which I would later realize was the sound of the car running over my brother's mountain bike as the driver took off.
On the asphalt, I remember being dazed and feeling strangely fine – wondering what just happened. There was some bewildered curse words in there too, which I won't print in this family friendly paper. A Native American woman was the first to find me, reassuring me that someone had called an ambulance, that I was young and handsome and that I'd be fine. What a strange thing to say, I thought to myself.
On the ambulance ride, I was sad that my brother's bike was ruined by the driver. Then the adrenaline wore off and the pain set in. And there was my father cursing me on the hospital bed for being careless and my uncle urging him to take it easy, my militant sister wondering if I was hit on purpose and if it was racially motivated.
All in all, not a fun experience.
Let's not make a big deal out of it, but the difference in a couple of seconds, a couple of feet one way or another, and that could have been the end of it all for me.
For being struck by a car in a hit and run I was relatively lucky. Small fracture in my collarbone, muscles bruised to the bone, some scars that are still faint on me to this day. But no serious permanent injury, and I had health coverage through my dad's work – and I was introduced to the dubious modern miracle called doctor prescribed pain medication. To top it off, my brother was pretty cool about his mountain bike getting run over.
The driver was never caught, though I doubt anyone looked too hard for him or her.
I remember being pretty angry at whoever hit me, then took off. I remember feeling guilty that I made my mom cry and my parents take off from work to see me.
Now that I'm older, I drive carefully, because over the years I've also thought to myself how terrible it would be to hit someone with a car. What a terrible thing to live with – that you are responsible for tons of metal and rubber, this symbol of modern times and years upon years of science and engineering and progress, propelling it towards something as fragile as another living being. That something many of us take for granted everyday could mean grievous harm, and even death, to another.
A friend of mine sent me the article about the tragic death of Anousone "Ped" Phanthavong, in a hit and run. Days later, it was revealed that the True Thai cook was killed by someone driving a vehicle owned by former Minnesota Viking, restaurant mogul, and sports broadcaster Joe Senser.
Recently Anna Prasomphol Fieser, co-owner of True Thai, recently wrote an impassioned and frustrated blog posting about the case, which you'll find here:
(thanks to Leslie Ball for originally posting this a while back)
I'm glad that the Star Tribune did the right thing and eventually published Anna's blog. I don't have much to add – I think Mrs. Fieser's blog entry is an important alternative perspective and has a lot of insight.
As a community member, I'll be watching this case with great interest. Here, in this specific blog entry, I am not going to write about any theories or inconsistencies. Nor debate the legal aspects, of which I am not knowledgeable enough to contribute to a reasonable discussion. What I am very interested in, is how this case plays out.
Race and class may have nothing to do with the unfortunate tragedy of a man, successfully turning his life around, only to be killed in a tragic accident close to the place where he worked, the killer for whatever reason speeding off into the night dragging his body to paint an exclamation point in red on the asphalt. Race and class probably have nothing to do with the tragedy itself.
We have yet to see if race and class have anything to do with public perception, media coverage, and how this case plays out in the judicial system. Unfortunately, not every case gets the same treatment. All these things are impacted by race, class, gender, in ways obvious to some and not-so-obvious to others. Those who know, know. You don't need me to explain a thing. We can hope for better, but not expect it.
Above all else, I hope the family members of the late "Ped" Phanthavong can find some peace, and some justice, if that is possible, in however and whatever shape it takes for them.