A Very Close Call on Central Ave.
This was taken from the JC Heights Facebook group from a post by Shuja Shabbir.
We live in a city with a lot of people and a lot of cars so just being aware is so important.
Before I share my experience, I would like to clarify to the group members the purpose behind most of my postings. It is to create awareness. Sometimes it is the most basic things we do which could hurt or inconvenience someone and are not aware of it. Just a few days ago, Ronald Clemente posted how the vehicles parked in front of "Apna Bazar Cash & Carry" get in his way when he is driving in the right most lane. I admit that I have parked there too at times and have decided not to do that anymore.
It is certain that if I notice something wrong happening, I will immediately respond. It is not heroic, or that I am looking for praise, I just take it as a responsibility. I believe it’s called “being a Good Samaritan."
Today’s experience prompted me to create awareness of adopting a habit that can prevent an accident.
If my wife and I are both in the car, 99% of the time I am be driving. Today was that 1% of the time and we were running late to pick up the kids from school. She says that I criticize her driving, today she made the right decision. Driving on Central Ave heading north, I asked her to turn left on Lincoln and take Kennedy as it will be faster. She refused and stayed on Central as we passed Lincoln stating that she always takes this route and it’s faster. I did not respond and instead looked at the clock which said 3:04 PM, I wanted to see if she can make it in the 7 minutes she claimed. If I was driving most probably I would have made that left.
As we stopped on a red light on Bowers, I thought I saw Michael Yun in a meeting with a few people in the back of his store. My wife changed the topic and mentioned how a certain store at that intersection was shamed on NJ.com. When the light changed, she drove forward but due to a traffic jam had to stop as she cleared that intersection.
That’s when she frantically started yelling, ”That car is moving without a driver.” I looked to my left and saw a car moving slowly southbound without a driver and a women running after it. I tried opening my door and it was locked, forgetting I could unlock the door. I yelled at my wife to open the doors, unlocked it, and ran out of the car. By now the car was in the middle of the intersection steering left and heading towards Mr. Yun’s store. The woman was trying to stop the car by holding on to the left rear window. I grabbed on to the driver side and a Good Samaritan got in front of the car both hand on the hood.
Like an offensive lineman, the car was taking all three of us with it. I noticed a young girl in the passenger seat and I screamed repeatedly “hit the brakes.” She instead was fidgeting with the gear control which in this car was between the seats. I guess she thought she could put the car in park from drive, which is not possible.
My first instinct was to stop the car by holding on to it; the second one was the right one. I pulled on the driver door handle, the door opened, I jumped inside and hit the brake. The car by now was heading towards the curb or the parked cars on Bowers. It stopped about 15-20 feet before striking a parked car or going on the curb or interrupting Mr. Yun’s meeting.
The young girl in the passenger seat who seemed either in her late teen or early 20’s was in shock. As we were sitting there I heard a very sweet and cute comment “Hey, How did that happen?” There was a little girl, maybe 6-7 years old, in the back seat. I turned the car around, parked it on Bowers adjacent to Capital one bank. For a few seconds, the young girl and I sat there motionless, she was holding her head and I was having a shocking déjà vu moment.
I got out and walked to our car. My wife had pulled over in a parking spot across Chase bank. I told her what had happened, her comment was “See, it was a good thing I took Central Ave.” I smiled - it was one of those inner smiles so as not to give her the satisfaction of being right yet again.
The awareness is of adopting a habit to look down and make sure you see “P” before you take your foot off the brake. Since my last horrific experience 4 years ago, I never exit unless I am certain that the car is in PARK.