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Old 12-01-08, 03:15 AM   #28
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Here's my experience calling the California Highway Patrol tip line with information about this accident.

In these days since the Mark Pendleton hit-and-run tragedy, I have been watching for Chevrolet Silverado and 2500 Series pick-up trucks and SUVs that might be of interest in the investigation. On Thanksgiving Day, I spotted such a vehicle, with left front-end damage, including parts of its head lamp or turn signal missing and a dented front corner panel. In the darkness, it was impossible to determine if the damage was recent. The pick-up truck was occupied, with two passengers sitting in the front seat, at a San Francisco corner. San Francisco is 30 miles from Martinez.

I discretely circled the vehicle several times, memorizing the license plate number, doing my best to be inconspicuous. The vehicle was a Series 2500 Chevrolet pick-up, the model that was forerunner to the Silverado, and might likely share its chassis and trim. The license plates were dirty and difficult to read, which is said to be an indicator that somebody is hiding something. But then, the whole heap was a wreck. This pick-up truck needed that bumper stick, "If this was my horse, I'd shoot her."

I think the chances that my Chevy, more than 30 miles from the accident scene in a large city, is the Chevy that caused the accident, is a long shot. CHP is running a tip line, and they've surely checked leads much closer to Martinez and Port Costa.

To my surprise, the dispatcher on Thursday told me that the vehicle had been found, in Martinez. What great news, I told her. Do you still want the license number and description of the vehicle I saw in San Francisco? She didn't even take my name. I'm sure, with caller ID on my telephone, she knew that she could get back in touch with me later, but in any case, she didn't even take basic police report data from me.

I thought about logging on here at to announce my news scoop, that the Martinez vehicle had been found. But I realized that this would be a bad decision. What if the dispatcher was passing along to me department gossip or rumors, not yet true, or information about an investigation in progress, but not completed? Most of all, I realized that funeral and memorial rides had not yet taken place, and that the Pendleton family might not be informed. I felt that if the vehicle or driver was known, despite the fact that a dispatcher had told me what might be private information, it was better that Mark Pendleton's family be told about any news through proper channels.

I watched the news closely, hoping to read about the discovery of the vehicle and apprehension of the driver. I hoped for this to occur by Saturday, when the Pendletons would be saying goodbye forever at a funeral, when riders from all over the Bay Area would be there to memorialize Mark.

But nothing had happened by Saturday. No vehicle identification had been announced. Finally, I called back CHP, where I got what seemed to be the same phone dispatcher. I explained the circumstances again, and this time she did take the license number of the Chevy truck I saw.

"Why do you think this truck was involved in the accident?" she asked me. I explained that I have no reason to suspect anything, other than that I had observed a truck of a similar model with the requisite front end damage and missing pieces of its headlight and turn signal systems. The one piece of information I didn't give the dispatcher was the ethnic identity of the two drivers in the pick-up truck's cab. She didn't ask me about them. They can ask me that later, if there is any reason to.

Why didn't the dispatcher take this information in the first place? I doubt it will have any bearing on the case. I am struck by the scarcity of Chevrolet pick-up trucks on San Francisco's streets, especially compared to Ford and Toyota trucks. The Bay Area does not love General Motors. Nevertheless, even in a mega-city the size of the Bay Area, there can be only a few hundred Chevy pickups and SUVs running around with missing parts from their left front turn signal assemblies. Each one outside the core area (Martinez) that can be examined is worth the trouble.


Last edited by metzenberg; 12-01-08 at 03:32 AM.
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