I was walking south on Clark Street on the far north side when I heard a chorus of sirens. About a half a block straight ahead, I could see a couple of police cars with their lights flashing, blocking traffic. There was a crowd of people clogging the sidewalk before me. Some of them were speaking in agitated tones of voice. When I was almost up to them, an ambulance screeched to a halt right next to us. Two men hopped out. It was then that I noticed the man lying on the sidewalk before me. He had been mostly obscured by the crowd from the angle of my approach, but they parted at the approach of the two EMTs.
“What happened?” asked the Ambulance Man.
“Dude got run over,” answered a man in the crowd.
I was now scarcely five feet from the man on the sidewalk. Someone had brought out an old rug and had somehow maneuvered the man onto it. His legs and feet were twisted at odd angles and it seemed likely that there were broken bones down there. He appeared to be semi-conscious and it was easy to imagine that he might have hit his head pretty hard on the pavement. I chose to keep walking at that point – A) The professionals were on the scene; B) The crowd was big enough as it was; and C) I’d seen all I needed to see. But there was more ahead.
About 20 or 30 feet past the man was a street corner. It appeared that the man may have been struck by a car that had run up onto the sidewalk. I won’t describe everything I saw on the concrete, but it seemed highly suggestive of the collision having taken place there. At the very least, this was where the man had rested for a time after the collision. Traffic in the intersection was at a standstill, and considering that we were still in late rush hour, this made for quite an extended parking lot in all directions.
But this was apparently not a hit-and-run incident. A car was stopped in the intersection. The man I presume to have been the driver was standing next to it, scowling, surrounded by police officers. His hands were behind his back, unmoving, though I could not tell whether or not he was handcuffed. This had all apparently happened so quickly that the scene was still quite unsecured, and I walked right past the man and his posse of new friends in police uniforms. Once again, I felt that the right move for me was to keep moving and let the professionals do their jobs.
I’ve seen nothing in the press about this, nor do I expect to. It was, after all, just another day in the big city. But it was a good ways removed from my usual routine, and I couldn’t help but approach each intersection cautiously for the remainder of my stroll.