I saw a horrible accident yesterday on a highway between Revere and Saugus. Which town it happened in became an important detail, for reasons I still don't understand.
But first, here's what happened: I’m driving south on Lynn Marsh Road in Revere at about 4:30 or 5 p.m. yesterday. If you aren’t from around here, Lynn March Road is a long, straight shot through the marsh between Revere and Saugus. And when I say straight, I mean it: It’s where most kids would go to drag back when that was still cool. It’s almost impossible to drive down the mile and a half or so of road without speeding.
So I’m driving back toward Revere, and I see a cloud of dust, like sand billowing up in the air, about 1,000 feet in front of me. That’s not entirely unusual, because everything is so flat there. But it’s a lot of dust, like maybe someone is kicking up sand from the side of the road.
That’s when I see the car on the other side of the road; it hits the guardrail, stops, and pulls to one side like someone yanked on a string behind it. Then it pops up and flips in the air, hits the ground, and rolls over a couple more times. Once it settles on its back, the car spins down toward the far side of the road.
I pulled out my cell phone and called 911.* A bunch of people stopped and ran over to the upended car. By the time I got there, both passengers were out of the car. One guy was on the ground, flat on his back. He didn’t have any obvious injuries, but he was yelling and writhing around. It was hard to tell if it was pain or if he was just upset.
His buddy, though, was up and walking around, but the right side of his face was covered in blood. Covered. The eye was swollen shut and his shirt was quickly soaking with the blood pouring down. Everyone (there were about two dozen people out of their cars at this point) kept imploring him to sit down, but he didn’t want to or didn’t understand.
At one point, he turns to me and a couple of other guys and asks “Is my face fucked up? If my face fucked up?” No, we all say, it’s just a little blood. You’re fine, you’re fine.
The kid talks to an older man in Spanish. The old man then turns to me and asks if I have a cell phone. I pull it out. “He wants to call his mother.”
OK, I ask, what’s the number? The kid starts to tell me the number, but he can’t get it straight. It took him a couple fo tries to get a number out, whish I dial and gave him the phone. After a couple of seconds he hands it back and starts to pace again. He never spoke with anyone.
Now we’re all just waiting for the cops and ambulance. The guys seem fine to the naked eye, so people start looking more closely at the car. Everyone sees the vodka bottle.
It’s one of those fruit flavored vodkas, with a green cap. I can’t tell if the bottle is open or not.
A fire truck and ambulance pull up at the same time. At that point, the EMT tells everyone to step away from the car. We all shuffle back and start to talk.
“Did you see the bottle?” one guy asks us.
“Yeah, I saw it,” I say. “I don’t know if it was open or not.”
“We should have thrown it out,” the guy says, only half kidding.
I don’t say anything at that point, because frankly, if the kid was loaded and driving that fast on the highway, I want the cops to figure that out.
Cop cars, fire trucks and ambulances from both cities are pouring in at this point. We all waited there as the kids were loaded up onto those boards and taken into the ambulances, then started to disperse. I asked a firefighter if anyone needed to speak with me, because I made the call to 911. He said no, you’re free to go. And I left.
I got in my car and pulled out my phone again. Before I started to dial, though, I found a bloody fingerprint on my phone. I wiped if off with a bandana and threw the rag out of the car. Then I went home.
*Calling 911 was a bit of an ordeal.
I had dialed 911 when I saw the car flip. Cell calls to 911 direct you to the state police, which is a horribly inefficient use of time for the Staties, the people in the accident, and the local police who are going to respond to the call. After the accident, a friend told me the state’s trying to set up a system where your call is triangulated and directed to the closest local authority. Let’s hope that’s done sooner rather than later.
So I got the Staties and I told them, “I’m on Route 107 on the Revere-Saugus line. A car just rolled over on the highway.”
The dispatcher asked which town I was in. I said I wasn’t sure, that we were in between Revere and Saugus. “I need you to tell me what town you’re in so I can direct your call.”
“Ok, Revere,” I said slightly annoyed.
So she connects me to Revere, and I repeat what happened.
“Which town are you in?” asks the Revere dispatcher.
“It’s Lynn Marsh Road. I don’t know which town exactly. It’s right on the line. I think it’s Revere.”
Then she asks for a landmark, and I don’t see one. Finally, she asks “are you near the lobster place?”
I turn around, and sure enough, there it is, about 500 feet down the road.
This bothered the Hell out of me. I know the area very well, and I know that Cataldo, the ambulance service Revere contracts with, is literally two minutes away. They are the ones who are going to get the call. I know this, and I’m not a cop. The dispatcher knows this too, so why the third degree about which town? I also know that both towns will respond to an accident on this road, so what gives? Maybe there’s an excellent reason beyond “We don’t want to spend the money and resources on an accident in someone else’s town,” which is all I can figure. But it doesn’t make sense.
Look, Revere’s one of those towns where everyone has a horror story about the cops, and I think overall that’s bullshit. I’ve never been harassed by the cops in Revere, and in the times when I have had to deal with them, they were really professional, even the older cops who some people have specifically told me are jerks. So I like the cops here. I couldn’t imagine the dispatcher I spoke with cares about which town picks up the tab for responding here. So what was the deal?