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A letter to a bad driver…

January 12, 2023, 9:22 AM

One thing that I did not expect to come from the accident that claimed my HR-V was how much it has really bothered me, more than three months down the road.  When I had the fire in the Soul, by the time three months had passed, I was in the HR-V and going along being awesome.  The HR-V would take its first big road trip, an overnight trip to Centralia, Pennsylvania, a little more than three months after the Soul’s demise.  In other words, I got over it quickly.  I suppose it’s because the Soul perished in a fire, and it happened without any direct human intervention, i.e. no human’s actions directly triggered the failure that led to the fire, even though the root cause was shoddy workmanship during the warranty replacement of the engine.

In the case of the HR-V’s demise, the root cause was traceable to one person: Jose Rosalio Abrego Mena.  He failed to stop for a red signal, and despite my best efforts to avoid a collision, there just wasn’t enough room to stop to avoid a collision, and his Nissan Pathfinder struck my HR-V on the left side, roughly on the A-pillar.  I came out of it pretty well despite everything, walking away from the accident with only minor injuries.  However, I feel like it may have left some lasting mental effects on me.  I still get a little jumpy when I see the headlights of a vehicle approaching from a cross street at night, though this has reduced somewhat with time.  I also can’t seem to get the whole incident out of my head, as my time in the train, which often helps me to organize my thoughts, has been a place to dwell on the accident, even though I played no part in causing it.  I keep thinking about how I got knocked out by the airbags.  I keep thinking about how the other driver ran after the accident, and how no charges that I could find were ever filed against the other driver (though I did turn up some old charges for trespassing and fishing without a license).  I think about if there was anything more that I could have done to avoid a collision, such as a hard turn of the wheel, though I admit that once the other driver ran the light, a collision was probably inevitable (but that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it).  The accident also made me consider my own mortality, as I think about how easily this collision could have killed me right then and there, and how lucky I was to be able to walk away from it largely unscathed.  In short, I have not gotten over this one by any means, and I desperately wish that I could, but I just can’t seem to stop thinking about it and put it behind me.  I hope that I didn’t end up with a case of PTSD over this, but I’m worried that I might.

Recently, I decided to take a step similar to that which a colleague had taken in their recovery following an incident where someone jumped in front of their train as a way of committing suicide.  They made a post on their Facebook timeline telling the decedent exactly what they thought of them and their act of suicide, which had caused my colleague much trauma in their own life.  So I did something similar, and wrote a letter to Jose Rosalio Abrego Mena, expressing exactly how I felt about him.  This is what I wrote:

Dear Mr. Abrego Mena:

In the early morning of October 9, 2022, we encountered each other at the intersection of Montgomery Village Avenue and Christopher Avenue in Gaithersburg, Maryland.  During our encounter, you ran a red signal at a high rate of speed while driving your Nissan Pathfinder, and collided with my Honda HR-V, totaling both vehicles.  You then left the scene of the accident immediately following the collision.

In an ideal world, I should not know your name.  I should not know that you live in Rockville.  I also should not know that Allstate is the company that carried your car insurance policy, and I definitely should not know the number of your insurance policy.  In other words, in an ideal situation, I should not know that you exist at all, because our paths would never have crossed.  Yet, because of your callous disregard for the rules of the road and the safety of others, I now know quite a few things about you that I never expected or wanted to know.

Your actions leading up to and after the accident make it no secret that you one of the worst kinds of human beings on this planet.  You demonstrated a complete disregard for safety when you recklessly entered an intersection at a high rate of speed against a signal directing you to stop before proceeding.  Based on how fast I observed your vehicle traveling immediately before the collision, it was clear that you never verified that it was safe to enter the intersection, nor did you have any intention of stopping.  If you had stopped, you would have seen my vehicle, just as I saw yours, and there would have been no collision.  However, holding the collision as constant, you also demonstrated complete cowardice when you fled the scene of the accident on foot as soon as the vehicles came to rest, rather than remaining at the scene of the accident and taking responsibility for your actions like a mature adult.  You destroyed my car and then left me for dead.  Fortunately – and no thanks to you – I was able to walk away from the collision with only minor injuries, and ultimately made a full recovery.  I credit my coming out of this so well to my spotting your running the light at high speed and reacting accordingly, attempting to avoid a collision and therefore causing the impact to occur largely forward of the passenger cabin, as well as proper use of my seat belt, and the fine safety engineering of Honda vehicles.

Of course, it’s not as if you care about any of this, though, because if you did, you wouldn’t have fled the scene like a little coward.  I don’t know what you were trying to accomplish by fleeing, because if you were attempting to avoid being held accountable for your negligent actions, you failed.  Despite your leaving the scene and therefore not cooperating with authorities at the scene, it took no time at all to discover who you were, where you lived, and all kinds of other relevant information about you.

I hope that you have learned something from your actions, which caused the loss of your vehicle and mine.  While the section of Montgomery Village Avenue where our vehicles collided is, indeed, a poorly designed and dangerous stretch of road, the root cause of our accident was your failure to observe a traffic signal directing you to bring your vehicle to a complete stop before proceeding through the intersection.  If you had taken a few moments to stop and verify that the intersection was clear, the accident would have never happened, and both of us would still have our respective cars.

Until my new car arrives, I am driving a car that I am borrowing from my mother.  Every time that I get in it and go driving, I am reminded of the circumstances that led to my having this car instead of my own.  And you are 100% to blame.  My new car will arrive in a few months, but in the meantime, every trip that I take in my mother’s car reminds me of what you did to me and to my car because you couldn’t be bothered to stop at a red signal.

I hope that you are satisfied with yourself.  You are persona non grata as far as I am concerned, as you have negatively affected my life in more ways than you could have imagined – because if you could, you would have slowed down and stopped for that red light.  Time heals all wounds, but it will take quite a while for me to get over the trauma that you caused me.

Sincerely,

Ben Schumin

After I finished writing the letter, I put it on letterhead, and made two versions of it.  One was the original text as shown here, and then for the second version, I ran it through Google Translate to put it in Spanish.  I then printed them off, signed them, put them in an envelope, addressed it to Abrego Mena at the address that was listed on his vehicle registration, put a stamp on it, and then mailed it.  I probably won’t ever hear back from him regarding my letter, but it has nonetheless been sent on its journey.  He will have been made aware of my feelings about him and his actions on that night, and the difficulty that I have had moving past it.

Meanwhile, a large part towards making me whole again following the accident comes in March, as that is when the new HR-V is supposed to arrive.  I had previously mentioned that the new HR-V would be black, but I admit that I was never all that excited on the idea of having a black car.  Black was the color that was available, and it would ensure that I got a car at some point, rather than wait indefinitely for a car that might never actually materialize.  In the past week, I learned from the folks at Shockley Honda that they were able to find a HR-V in “modern steel metallic”, which is the same color as the original HR-V.  I liked that color, and so I was pleased that the dealership was able to secure something in that color.  Hopefully once I’m in the new HR-V rather than in an interim solution, it will help with the healing process, and bring me one step closer to finally putting this horrible situation behind me once and for all.