My mom and I were driving to the mall yesterday. (Because this is what we do when we are together: we shop. It is so much more fun to shop together than alone.)
We were a few blocks from the mall when the light in front of us changed to yellow and then red, but the orange car in front of us just kept going. This was not a situation of the light being very dark orange. This was a situation of the light being so firmly red that the cars on the cross street were already well into the intersection (on their very green light) by the time the orange car entered the intersection.
The result was exactly what you would expect. A green car pulling through the intersection saw the orange car and tried to swerve out of the way, but the two collided, the orange car spinning so that the worst damage was to the front driver's corner of both cars.
My mom and I looked at each other and pulled into the nearby apartment complex. By the time we got to the cars, the teenaged driver of the green car was getting out of his car, on the phone with the police. The elderly driver of the orange car was also on the phone with police from inside her car, surrounded by the airbag debris.
A man and a woman from two other cars were asking the older woman if she was okay (she was, except for a hand that kept swelling while the post-accident happenings were going on, probably from the airbags deploying). I asked the teenager, who nodded around his phone call, and then I went around and asked the younger teenager in the passenger seat if he was okay. He nodded through the window.
By the time a single police officer eventually arrived, we had moved the younger teenager, who was wearing only a sweatshirt, over to our car to stay warm and not be in the middle of the street. The man who stopped had moved the orange car out of the intersection. We tried to move the green car, but when the driver tried to back up, the front of the car fell down onto the tire, rendering it immobile. We witnesses confirmed with one another that, yes, the light had been long red when the older lady blazed on into the intersection. "It wasn't your fault," my mom and I assured the younger driver. Everyone stayed remarkably calm. The older lady was the most shaken up, although the teenagers' mom was a little bit distraught on the phone (understandably: it was her kids and her car).
The older driver was sure that she had a green light, and that the teenager had driven right into her.
My mom and I decided that we had to stay until the police arrived, particularly since two black teenagers might face an uphill battle when an older white woman claimed they had hit her.
The officer was a [insert common family name from the Dutch community here]. "He looked like a [insert common family name from the Dutch community here]," my mom said, when I told her later. (My sister went to high school with one of that family.)
I went out into the intersection when the officer arrived to confirm the teenager's story. "We were right behind her in the B, I mean middle lane," I said, catching myself in police-reportese from having read approximately a metric ton of them in my day.
"Was it questionable?" the officer asked.
"No," I said. "It was long red." Then I gave him, from memory, the license plate number of the male witness who had left because he had somewhere to be. "He was on the cross street too, and he also said his light was long green."
At long last, after close to an hour spent on the side of the road, mom and I continued on to spend money, relieved that our car was not among those hoisted up onto the tow truck.