I've been working a lot of extra hours lately, since we're a cop short in Devil's Island at the moment.
Ofc. Atwater was up on the interstate at the Dante Bridge, working a wreck at about 0530 hours. Rehnquist was backing him up and they had lane 2 closed off. Atwater was sitting in his cruiser, filling out the byzantine form the state requires for traffic accidents, while Rehnquist was standing outside by the back of Atwater's patrol car. Rehnquist told me that he turned around for no real reason, and happened to see a pair of headlights coming in fast, right in the lane they had blocked. He began yelling and waving his flashlight frantically, and the headlights swerved slightly.
Instead of plowing into the back of Atwater and squashing Rehnquist in the process, the oncoming car moved just enough that it merely slammed into the left rear quarter panel of Atwater's car at about 60 mph, then careened off, barely missed the parties to the first accident, and struck one of the vehicles involved, totalling it. The driver of the juggernaut was 82 years old. After the wreck, he tottered unscathed from his vehicle, walked up to Rehnquist without a word, and handed him his driver's license. Rehnquist said he was so stunned at the whole thing that he didn't say anything in reply.
Atwater, unfortunately, had heard the commotion, and so right at the moment of impact he was turned slightly in his seat trying to see what was going on. When his car got hit his spine and neck got thrown backward in mid-turn. He went to the hospital, got put on powerful pain meds, and won't be back until next week at the earliest. The state trooper who worked the new accident told Rehnquist that he would request the state re-evaluate whether the elderly road warrior is entitled to a license. I predict he'll be back on the road next week.
The great irony of this incident is that the original wreck they were working was a minor fender-bender, the sort of thing we usually handle in five minutes with a simple form if the drivers agree. These two were cousins, and they couldn't come to any sort of agreement, demanding instead that Atwater do the full state form, when they might have resolved the whole thing long before the old man came along and destroyed the one guy's car, which until that second had been only slightly damaged.
There's a lesson here.