When I woke up Wednesday morning, never in a bazillion years did I imagine what would happen at the Channel 3 complex, let alone how one man's bad decision would alter my life so drastically forever, pushing it in a different direction.
Admittedly, the day was hopping....from the minute I began and Sheriff McFaul resigned....and the alleged 'mercy killing' story unraveled.....and we received updates on the fatal East Cleveland fire as well as the marijuana farm bust....it was a great news day.
Until WE BECAME the story.
Until I BECAME the center of the story.
Much of what follows from this point on is what was RELAYED to me by others who 'heard' variations of what supposedly happened.
I never witnessed anything nor heard anything.
I am minding my own business doing my thing, getting ready for yet another web chat during the 7pm news when my cameraman Craig comes flying into the newsroom toward me. He's speaking a mile a minute and says 'there's been an accident in the garage and your car was hit.' He then flies back through the full length of the newsroom and down the stairs to the parking garage.
I know he is not joking or kidding by his sense of urgency but am not completely comprehending the severity of this situation. I'm thinking someone bumped me backing out, or pulled too close to one side of my vehicle.
What I was told: an SUV being driven by a man professing to Cleveland Police officers that he was under the influence of 'something' had driven erratically down the hill leading to the Channel 3 Parking Garage, had entered the parking garage, hopped the curb missing numerous other vehicles and numerous concrete barriers and had struck my vehicle smack dab in the center of the driver's side door....which in turn pushed my vehicle into Carole Sullivan's. It appears Carole's car sustained slight damage/scratches /pings.
My car, on the other hand, was t-boned between a concrete barrier and the SUV and was not drivable.
The impact blew out the passenger side window with shattering glass flying everywhere.
The passenger side door refused to open.
The driver side door would open only a few inches after Cleveland Police towed the SUV to the Police impound lot.
The driver side door could be closed again by picking it up and slamming it, and then it really did not fully close.
I did not go down at first. I was still in shock trying to get a picture of what may have occurred. Then as if in slow motion, person after person after person came up to me telling me there HAD been a serious accident and my car had been struck.
Mind you, we are in the middle of an absolutely crazy news day and I am alone on the news desk. For once, I did not care. I grabbed my key card, my car keys and headed down to the parking garage.
I exited the door and just saw people standing around staring at what had happened and what was still unfolding.
I immediately saw that my car was NOT where I left it. It had been moved out of its spot and angled a bit by the impact of the crash.
As I inched closer, I felt all eyes looking my way sad and sorrow-filled.
I could not believe my eyes.
The SUV had slammed into the left side of my car pushing it into the huge concrete barrier on the right side.
There was broken glass everywhere.....paint chips and strips strewn about on the parking garage floor. Crunched steel which made my heart hurt to no end.
I was speechless.
How could this have happened? I was not at the entryway of the parking garage. I was in the dead center of the parking lot.
Person after person came up to me offering their condolences asking if I was ok.
I was shaking and in shock. I did not know what to say or what to do. I could not think straight.
Nothing came out of my mouth.
From what I have been told--our security guard and cameraman saw this erratic driver come into the lot and saw, via a security camera, his entire trip down the hill into the parking garage. They ran down to the garage to see the outcome. Allegedly, a second person in the vehicle fled on foot.
I did not become hysterical but was visibly shaken. Thank goodness I was surrounded by compassionate co-workers and friends. Dan, my producer offered much support and advice....Lynn, Marc, and Dan helped immensely in not only covering the news desk but helping me contact my insurance company and then my Mom.
I could not have gotten through this ordeal alone....but it is far from over. I only hope I can endure, stay strong and carry this traumatic and disastrous occurrence fully to the end with faith and strength.
Running the news desk and actually 'working' was secondary to the catastrophe in front of me.
I admit, I tried keeping my cool but did break down and cry a number of times in the midst of my good friends like Brian and Lynn and Marc....
The station was gracious enough to offer a company car, however, it was such a cluster trying to find one to use and then find the keys and have hanging over my head that I had a company car... God forbid anything happen to it, so I opted to take up one of the numerous offers from my generous co-workers to help get me safely home.
News of the accident quickly spread outside the complex as people already home called in wondering what had happened and how I was doing.
Everyone apologized even though it was no one's fault, not even mine, except the one man in the SUV who made a bad decision, a costly decision.
At one point, I searched high and low for my insurance card to no avail. After the SUV had been moved, we were able to crack the door enough for me to gather my personal belongings, filling garbage bag after garbage bag. I take great pride in my car, which is my home away from home. Spotless inside, very nice outside, fully stocked with first aid materials, clothes, a phonebook, and anything I may need to weather the elements and handle a disaster.
However, nothing within the vehicle can weather this storm.
Finally, after speaking to Cleveland Police and my insurance company, I only had a little more time left on my shift. I stayed til the end and tried calming down.
What really can I do. It's futile to get upset or anxious or hysterical. What's done is done. The true character of someone is how they handle a situation. I hope to calmly take this situation to a very peaceful conclusion with minimal pain and suffering to all involved, especially me.
But, who am I kidding. I was not hurt. No one was hurt and that is a blessing. But it's quite unfortunate that since no one was physically hurt, those cut-throat lawyers will do nothing to ease my mental and psychological pain and suffering. This incident has changed me for life. I've been violated. Something I worked so hard for--buying a car on my own, paying it off on my own, taking care of this vehicle on my own has been taken away from me in a matter of seconds.
It's only a car and cars can be replaced but what that man claiming to be under the influence has taken away from me is so much more than a car...and I will never get any of it back.