Papa’s hit and run accident gets closure

I still memorize the case number by heart and after a year and a half, I still can’t forget my father’s accident here in Dubai. He was hit by a speeding SUV while crossing a service road where cars should not speed (but this is Dubai). The driver of the car just went on like he only hit an ant, never mind there were plenty of witnessing, never mind the sight of a human body being hurled and landed on the hard pavement.

I pass by the traffic prosecution office where my father’s case lies every day on my way to work and my conscience is bugging me. I needed to find closure despite losing hope the case is going to be picked up again by police after they asked me to fly my father here to testify in court and I answered that it is not possible. He was not fit to fly and knowing how it is here, his visa could expire before we are even called to court.

“2011?” The lady at the front desk asked me.

“Why you didn’t come before?”

I explained that I did and needed to come back again but didn’t because I was pregnant, had a complicated delivery, slow recovery and well, you get the picture. I had a baby, I was busy.

After tinkering the keyboard, she calmly told me, “The case is closed. Khalas (Arabic for “it’s over”).”

In state of anger and shock, I asked what action they have taken on the hit and run driver and she said 2,000 dirhams (US$540) police fine. That’s it. No jail time, no damages paid to us, just to the police. She told me, if I want to contest the decision, I could ask Dubai Court to open a civil case, get a lawyer, etc.

Lately in the news,

A man was sentenced to six months in jail for groping woman

A mere FIVE HUNDRED FORTY DOLLARS FINE FOR COMMITTING HIT AND RUN (with witnesses to testify, plate number taken and reported)?

So there goes our closure although it just doesn’t sound right and fair at all.

Update on Papa’s traffic case

An update regarding my father’s accident case…

I got a call from Rashidiya Police Station regarding the status of my father’s case. He was a victim of hit and run while in Dubai for a visit last February.

“We have finished the investigation. Take your file number: xxxx/xxxx.”

“When can your father appear in court?”

The thing is – my father has gone back to the Philippines as he was here for visit and his visa was for 30 days only. I have told them that before when I requested them to speed up the investigation before my father heads home.

Right after I said that my father is no longer in Dubai and is back in his home country, the police officer’s voice toned down, weakened as if giving up. He asked me if it’s possible for my father to come to Dubai as soon as he can but no, that is not possible. (But I could represent him, if possible.)

There are visa issues, not to mention travel issues that would mean money and time. And what guarantee do we have that they’ll contact us while he is here? Visit visas only last 3 months maximum. It took them almost 2 months to contact me about the case being officially filed despite several witness accounts including the exact number of the car plate.

It’s been three weeks since I got that phone call and Dubai Court has not called me yet. I called the police station again and they’ve asked me to go there. Why can’t they just discuss it on the phone!?

Though my father survived the accident, he is not completely unscathed. He needs physical (and mental) therapy, his movements are limited now and he is not even back to playing tennis yet. And we don’t know if he will be capable of playing again. We want to pursue the case so the driver will be prosecuted as he deserves over reckless imprudence and leaving the crime scene, hitting a pedestrian and leaving him for dead – thank God for good Samaritans who called the ambulance and took down the car plate number of the culprit.

I feel like I’m facing a dead end now. Why do I feel they’ve let the criminal go just because the victim is no longer here?

Papa leaves Dubai

I just got home from the airport where I sent off my father. He is leaving Dubai today to the Philippines, physically well and able to travel 18 days after his accident.

While I am very happy that he is still with us, alive and without any disability and I am deeply frustrated and angry that the driver of the car who hit him and ran away, left him for dead is still free – out and about somewhere driving carelessly, waiting to hit another innocent pedestrian. And then run away again.

The police have his car plate number and the case is already filed weeks back. I am not sure what keeps them from catching the suspect. My skin crawls at the thought that he could be the next car driving beside me in traffic.

My husband has pacified my frustrations by telling me we’ll just be contended that my father is still alive but I guess that anger and other vengeful feelings are innate human instinct because I have not made peace with all that has happened. I have not moved on. I pass by the accident site and cringe then my stomach turns. I seriously want something back – punishment for that reckless driver!

I’m saddened by the fact that he is left with very traumatic feelings – he gets nervous around the road and around vehicles, his heart races as he crosses a street, his stomach aches because of nervousness and he falls weak to his knees. While my father has not completely bounced back to his previous self before the accident, I know in no time he will be. As for me, I just really really hope we get a call from the police that the bastard have been caught and punished. I don’t know, maybe suspend his license and let him pay a huge fine, anything that will make him realize his mistake and NOT repeat it.

Only until then I can have my closure.

It was hit and run

Life had been very good to us, especially lately: my father and mother happy here in Dubai, my father overjoyed with seeing the Dubai Tennis Open, my free trip to Thailand, etc.

One reckless driver would change the course of our lives forever, scarring my father physically and mentally for days to come. Not just my father actually, every one’s just shaken and I’m still having nightmares about everything that happened.

Papa was a victim of a HIT and RUN incident in Dubai.

The thought of that just drives me mad. The crazy driver did not apply brakes before and after he hit my father. This kind of monster should not be allowed to drive at all. Such danger to the society! Generally, any person involved in an accident is required to stop, provide information and render aid if necessary. What kind of person runs away after hitting another person and endangering their lives?

My papa was not on the main road when the accident happened. He got out of the train station (Emirates Station in Marrakesh Road) and crossed the small service road after checking there were no cars coming through. Suddenly, without signaling and with speed exceeding what is allowed in service roads, a black SUV came rushing, hitting him on his left body, sending him flying on air and landing in the asphalt road.

There were witnesses. An Arab expat who was following the car who hit my father stopped to take down the car’s plate number. We are forever grateful to the kind stranger! The crazy hit and run driver needs to be taken out of the road or else he’ll hit people again and run away like nothing happened. I talked to a woman who saw what happened and she couldn’t believe how lucky my papa had been. “He flew for more than 5 meters!”

We have submitted the police report and filed the case against reckless imprudence and dangerous driving resulting in injuries. Please keep us in your prayers that this criminal will be caught soon so he won’t hurt other people again because others might not be too lucky.

The first 24 hours after the accident

February 27, 2011
Papa didn’t exhibit any scary life threatening indicators like vomiting, headache or loss of consciousness after the accident. A full body x-ray was done and we had to wait for the result. Precious minutes passed. I couldn’t bear seeing him in neck brace, eyes staring at us and telling about how the accident happened over and over again. He’s been an athlete (playing lawn tennis) regularly for more than 30 years now and he told me that when he was thrown into mid-air by the speeding car, he was alert and “planned” how to strategically land to minimize possible injuries.

And I think his strategy might have saved his life.

He had a huge contusion in his head, bruise on his left elbow and pain in his left hip and waist but miraculously, no fractures were found, including in his skull. It was too good to be true so the neuro-surgeon asked for a more comprehensive CT scan.

I can’t remember how hard I prayed outside the laboratory. I was alone. My husband had left the hospital to fetch my mom at home.

With the circumstances surrounding his accident, it nothing short of a miracle that all his bones were fine and there is no damage to his brain. My papa’s been a fighter and survivor all his life. He’s strong will kept the family together during difficult times in the past. I know he won’t give up that easily.

The doctors told us if papa was not feeling any vomiting or nausea or headache, we can go home (unbelievable but true, especially when you see he still has a huge bump on his head). The nurse removed his neck brace and head support and asked him to sit on the bed. He felt fine and I was wiping away happy tears. Just then, a minutes later, papa screamed that he was dizzy and his body stiffened and shivered.

We called for help (screamed on top of my lungs!) and doctors rushed. When they arrived, papa was already ok, albeit very shocked about what had happened. Sudden surge of blood pressure triggered a tonic-clonic seizure. Our fears are not erased yet.

We were asked to stay for 24 hours observation.

Papa was shaken about what happened. He refused to sleep thinking he might never wake up if he did. He kept himself busy by flexing his fingers and toes repeatedly. He kept asking me questions, trying to hold long conversations. His mind was sharp as usual. However he doesn’t want to be left alone and trauma set in. He started asking, “Can we really rely on their testing machines here?” or “What if there was an error?”.

No amount of reassurance stopped his questions.

While watching him in the hospital, I couldn’t rest. Anything could happen with head injuries and that seizure that he had, I was so afraid it’ll come again. My mom was with him and I went home anxiously at 3 am because Pristine was not feeling well at home. Of course I couldn’t sleep well at home.

I got up after 4 hours and  readied Pristine so we can go back to the hospital. I did not get any call from my mom with updates. I called her over and over but her battery was low. I hate being put in the dark.

When I arrived at the hospital, papa is still the same – coherent, conscious and this time, eating properly, drinking lots of water and passing urine normally. The contusion on his head also subsided greatly.

A team of neuro-surgeon came to see the ‘miracle patient’. Papa was talking to them like how he does, injecting jokes here and there. The doctor gave us permission to be discharged from the hospital.

He was asked to sit, stand, walk a bit which he did slowly. We went home at 3pm.

Papa is now resting at home, only feeling dizzy when he rests his head on the bed. We have propped it up with pillows so he’ll get a good incline. He’s sleeping and eating well. As of this writing, it’s been 4 days since the accident and I think he is doing good.

Next: How the accident happened and where do we go from here.

Papa’s accident in Dubai

papa and meLast February 14, my father came from the Philippines to visit us here in Dubai. I’ve asked him to come see the Dubai Tennis Championship games because he had been dreaming of seeing those star players in real life ever since he started playing tennis himself more than 30 years ago. And I’ve planned and saved for the flight and the tickets to the game since I landed here.

He’s so happy to be given a chance to fulfill a life long dream.

He went to watch the games everyday since the 19th, taking the bus and train to the stadium expertly, like he has lived here for long. He would come home smiling widely telling great stories from the court.

Last Saturday night after the Men’s finals (between Federer and Djokovic), I expected an unending litany of my father’s appreciation for the game, his very graphic description of the crowd’s reaction, the speed of the balls, etc. Him displaying proudly the photos of the star players in his camera.

February 26, 2011: TRAGEDY STRUCK
At the time I expected my father to call and tell me the result of the game, as he always does, I instead got a phone call from a number I didn’t know.

“Hello? Your father was hit by an SUV and thrown away.”

* He was hit by a speeding car while crossing a pedestrian lane on a small service road (not the main road.

That very moment, my world collapsed and tears fell instantly, uncontrollably. All my fears suddenly collected in that one sentence: Dubai idiotic driving, road accident and my parent’s life in jeopardy. I was gasping for air like I was dying. I could barely gather strength to talk and ask the stranger if my father is conscious. By some miracle, he was still conscious and coherent. But we all know how tricky head injuries are. M and I rushed to the hospital he’ll be taken without knowing the extent of his injury.

I had so many things running in my mind. Life is so fragile. It was just moments ago when I told him to enjoy the games as he walked out the door of my car (I drove him). Now I don’t even know what I’ll see in the hospital. My whole body shook – I wanted to vomit and tears were rolling like it could fill a small dam.

My husband and I arrived at the hospital before the ambulance and I was pacing back and forth waiting for any ambulance coming to Rashid Hospital Trauma Center. A policeman gave me a glass of water to drink. It was the longest wait in my whole life and the one I dreaded so much. I didn’t know how my heart handled the strong, quick palpitations.

The ambulance arrived and it looked like it wasn’t really rushing or I must have only been imagining things. The door opened and two men came out, I rushed to them and I saw my father from the door. It seemed that the blue blanket was over his face – I fell on the floor thinking of the worst. Someone picked me up and I saw my father in neck brace and spinal support, conscious and coherent, talking to me, apologizing. He said he is ok. I was relieved that he’s talking but not satisfied. My shirt had been wet with tears.

To be continued.

The post I didn’t want to write

Today I learned that it is not good to wait for something to happen to blog about. I should’ve just made a pre-written post to come live on Monday morning but I didn’t and waited for something interesting to see or happen so I can blog about it.

And you know what? I got what I wished for.

On those days when I’m walking blank and think about what to write, something happens, it can be less exciting like rain or another road diversion or me getting late but also sometimes, surprising or unpleasant ones come up.

I had a road accident today.

No, nothing major as it was in the middle of a very bad traffic, the cars were crawling and I was driving at like, 5 kmh, much like not stepping on the accelerator and just letting the car run on its own. I tried to change to the left lane but the driver was so aggressive and wouldn’t give way. I couldn’t turn to Pristine’s school (yes, she was in the car with me – thankfully with a seat belt on) if I don’t change lanes and one thing I learned about driving in Dubai is that I have to make my mind and be in the right lane as early as possible.

I kept looking at my left side as the big, burly Pajero wouldn’t give way, so was the Armada behind him. Too engrossed with not bumping the ones on my left, I missed to see the car who suddenly put on brakes in front of me. I stopped my car, desperately but it touched.

The two cars smooched. A peck.

The driver came out and looked at the back of his car to see a small scratch – it was not even a dent. I had a scratch too and we proceeded to drive on the side of the road and called the police.

* We are fine. Pristine nagged and told me to be careful. I was but I guess not quite!  After the police left and we have to proceed to her school, I was silent then she told me, “Don’t worry mom, when I grow up, I’ll drive and I am careful. You don’t have to drive anymore.*

reason why I should always be shutter ready

Just when I thought what to write, a large explosion that shook windows and the ground occurred in Al Quoz Industrial area producing a massive black mushroom cloud in the sky this morning.

fire in al quoz

~ smoke as seen from Al Nahda Road ~

We did not hear the explosion as we are not living near Al Quoz but the billowing smoke is very visible from our house and on the road on our way to work.

fire in al quoz

~ thick black smoke as seen in Salahuddin Road in Deira, near my office ~

Now, what exactly happened is still unclear but seems like a firecracker factory caught fire and exploded. Major roads near the area including Sheikh Zayed Road and Al Khail Road suffered severe traffic because of the incident. Injuries were reported but authorities have yet to confirm. Will post more about this later.

***** UPDATE *****

I went to the Immigration Department today to arrange visa amendment status of my husband and as soon as got out of the car, I was greeted by a really bad smell that looked like burning plastic. I can’t really describe it. The smoke was thicker there also because Al Quoz is near.

Gulf News had an update of the story with some shocking photos. A revelation that what I saw from my place earlier this morning was very far from what really happened in the affected area!

fire in al quoz

Witnesses said the explosion sounded like a volcanic eruption and from the looks of this mushroom cloud, I’d say, it really looks like a volcano has erupted!

fire in al quoz

This was the view of the sky taken by a photographer while facing Sheikh Zayed Road:

fire in al quoz

Last three photos taken from Gulf News.

News Flash: accident close to my office

This is what happens when a special public bus dubbed as “express” jumps at a red light to adhere to its name:

image030.jpg  image034.jpg  image029.jpg

Bus #X25 slammed into five other cars in a busy intersection (100 meters from my office)  on a hectic Tuesday morning

Sorry, I could not bring myself to post bigger images. Please click the thumbnails to enlarge the photos.

The X25 bus is one of the new buses operating since September of this year. X in the bus name means “Express” and it really lives up to that name with its speed. Until a couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were using this bus every single day. I was amazed by the skill of the driver to hustle through traffic, sometimes cutting corners, overtaking, inserting between cars (as if the vehicle is small!) and unfortunately, jumping on red lights just to get passengers to their destination on time.

I always knew one day, this bus and that kind of driving would result in something bad. Sad for the people involved in the accident this morning.

One motorist died in today’s unfortunate event.

More horrifying photos and the complete story in GulfNews.