We live in a small village in the mountains, south-east of Mexico City several hours.
Today, as usual we drove to the weekly market. On the way home, well, we aren’t sure how it happened. But, a man was rolling on the ground as if he had fallen out of the combi. And, cars were making panic stops. Except for one, heh, heh.
I was the first of four cars who had damage. The pickup behind me bumped my rear bumper plastic cover, and I cannot open and shut the hatch on my mini-van. Men there said it should be easy to fix.
The second was a pickup and he was stopped correctly. Behind him was a small taxi, and last was a pickup, who clearly was totally at fault.
The second vehicle had his wife and a small baby, and she shielded the baby with her own body. One of the investigators talked to the mother, but there were no bumps or marks on the baby’s head. My wife did tell them if the baby started vomiting to get him to a doctor as soon as possible.
Behind him was the taxi, and I tell you that car was smashed front and back. Back, from the last vehicle that caused the wreck. Front from hitting the pickup in front.
In the guilty pickup, was the man’s mother. He told me her name; she went to the hospital, but he didn’t think it was really grave. Several other people, probably in the taxi, also went. We have no condition report.
The guilty pickup driver had no documents of any kind, said he left them at home, which here most likely means they don’t exist.
My wife was really upset. When the vehicles stopped bouncing, the man who caused the wreck came running up very aggressively blaming me. When my wife told him it wasn’t my fault, he screamed, “Where are your witnesses?” He soon found out. The main witness was a government official whose office overlooks the site.
I am an Internet friend of his sister in California. And, his mom when I went to take photos for sister in CA. This happened while he was still serving his prison sentence for, ahem, unlawful death. Today he said he was in for 15 years.
The local cops did a quick investigation, then called in a State traffic investigator from a small city an hour or so away. We simply had to wait. The local cops directed traffic around the wrecks, until the investigator said it was okay to move them. Several men pushed the cause pickup off the road.
He went through it all again, then eventually announced I was absolutely not responsible. And, further that each must pay for the person ahead.
It is sort of like that, except in the US, usually you must actually meet the liability of the person ahead, thus the car that slammed into everyone ends up paying for everyone’s damage. Here, no. The chain went only one link.
So, after all was sorted out, he told the drivers to get together and work out settlements on the pay the person ahead plan.
In a minute, my wife was upset again. The taxi driver, the third vehicle of four, was allegedly assessed as at fault, and the real cause was allowed to go free.
The only thing that made sense was if the transito applied street justice. The cause of the wreck had no money at all, and no way to get any. So, if he were assessed for the costs, he’d never get out of jail and no one would get a cent. I am not sure of this, but I sure can’t think of any other explanation for letting the cause walk away. I think it’s called “Deep Pockets”.
The number 2 driver was assessed 2000 pesos for expired license, and it was recommended he pay us 600 pesos. Friends from his village peeled 200 peso bills until all was paid. That is how Mexicans take care of each other. We are guessing that 600 pesos will not fix it, but my wife and I agreed we weren’t going to create more grief for that young couple who were no more responsible than we were.
Note that no one went to jail, and no one was threatened with jail, unlike most other wreck reports I have read over many years, even though people did go to the hospital.
Addendum: 14 years ago, a little girl ran across the street and hugged me around the knees, and said, “Tio Abuelito”. (Great Uncle.)
All these years her family has accepted me as her grandpa, including her two real grandpas. When they have a reunion, they invite me. And, when she got stung by a scorpion one night, her dad ran and asked me for help.
When they were going home today they saw my car. There aren’t too many dark blue Siennas around here. They jumped out and stayed with us until all was finished, except she had to bug out early for high school at 2 pm. She laughed and volunteered to help me fight anyone who needed it.
I think if you were a tourist in the same wreck, and knew no one locally, it would be scary. Even worse if you didn’t speak much Spanish. Be sure to get insurance with legal representation.
I found all the cops, local cops and state transitos, to be totally professional and courteous at all times.
Update: the hatch is partly bent right where the pickup hit it., but a clever cousin took off the bumper cover and there were two minor problems. First, the foam piece broke and shoved up which deformed the cover, which meant I could not open the rear hatch. He glued the foam with resistol 5000 and, ahem, duct tape.
And, there was minor metal damage. The striker was not entering the door latch correctly. We took off the striker and with pieces cut out of a tuna can, added two shims and now the door open light goes off.
Today, a kid chased me down the street. He heard I might need body repair, and says he worked 15 years in body repair in Phoenix. So, if I get my immigration papers and the car legal, I may have him hammer out the hatch itself.
Anyway, the car is drivable now except the right brake bulb is burned out, but I think I have my old bulbs somewhere. I went looking and only one place had bulbs, but not the 7443 I need. I can get them in Tehuacan, but that is 4 hours round trip and I don’t want to risk a traffic stop for bad bulb if I can help it.
If the car is approved, I will probably buy a new bumper cover. I saw one on-line for $116.