Car crashes on campus

“I was just shocked and stunned,” said Batin Browning, an Uber driver who said he was run off the road by another driver near the Los Medanos College softball and baseball fields Thursday, Feb. 25.

Browning’s red Toyota Sonata ended on top of a wood post located in between the two fields because of another driver who left the scene, according to Lt. Ryan Huddleston of Police Services in an email interview.

“This case is still under investigation,” he added. “What we know at this time is a blue pickup truck was driving at a high rate of speed and struck the vehicle in front of him causing that vehicle to be pushed off the roadway up onto the posts.”

Players from the LMC softball team witnessed the incident, which occurred at 1:30 p.m. while they were out on the field.

“Well, I was about to go up to bat [during practice]. Then I heard a car run into something,” said freshman Erica Hilderbrand. “Then I turned around, I saw a big blueish-green truck make a U-turn and drive off.”

Hilderbrand wasn’t the only player to observe what happened.

“I saw the truck super close behind the red car and I looked away for a second and then I heard the screeching of the brakes and then the actual crash,” recounted Ryann Yelder, who is also a freshman on the softball team this year. “Then I see the truck back up from behind the red car and speed off.”

Browning had taken an Uber client to the campus and said he dropped them off in the back parking lot. While he was leaving to pick up another call, a car came up behind him on the access road near the fields, he said.

“He pushed me right up into this,” said Browning pointing to the wood stump his car was on top of.

Browning said in a phone interview that one of the witnesses who saw the crash — and who also happened to be a State Farm claims adjuster — got a license plate number off the truck.

According to the police report he received from Police Services, Browning said the truck was registered to a non-student from Victorville. But Huddleston is not sure this information is correct.

“The plate that was provided to us did come back to a vehicle from that area, however we do not believe it is the same vehicle and are still investigating it — that the plate given to us and what was actually on the vehicle was slightly different,” clarified Huddleston.

Huddleston said accidents occasionally happen on the campus.

“With the amount of parking lots we have those things happen from time to time. There is no set amount,” said Huddleston. “We ask if anyone happens to witness something like this that they contact Police Services and let us know.”

If the person who allegedly hit Browning is ever caught, Huddleston said the case would be classified as a hit and run and turned over to the District Attorney’s office for review. In California, a hit and run violation can either be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances — a felony charge would be instituted if someone was seriously injured or a death occurred.

Fortunately, the accident did not result in serious injury, although Browning said he is a bit sore and losing wages.

“I felt really bad for him because he had said he was an Uber driver and his car was basically wrecked,” said Yelder, who observed that Browning looked scared. “So, he wouldn’t be able to work for a while because he has no car, and it’s just really sad that people are in that much of a rush and have to drive so fast through school.”

Browning did say that an insurance claims adjuster who looked at the car told him it could be fixed and the insurance will cover it, but he will have to pay a $1,000 deductible. Both he and his wife used that car for work as Uber drivers.

He also his insurance company would sue the person, if ever caught, who crashed into him for the cost of repairs and the deductible, but he will have to find his own attorney to seek repairs for wages and lost earnings.

But this incident is not just a criminal case because it occurred on a college campus, so if the perpetrator is an LMC student, there could be repercussions from the college district with regard to the Student Code of Conduct.

Although LMC Dean of Student Success Dave Belman didn’t have enough information to comment on this case directly, he did explain students who have violated the Student Code of Conduct could face a range of disciplinary action, and that any criminal activity on campus implicating an LMC student would cross his desk.

“Police Services works with a range of incidents on campus that involve both students and non students,” explained Belman in an email interview. “When there is a police matter that involves a student — and the student is identified by Police Services — a police report is distributed to my office for review with regard to potential violations of the Student Code of Conduct.”

This incident was a first for Browning, who said he has only been an Uber driver for a month and half. He said he was upset because he was finally working. Just last year he was only riding bike, but had got a car to be an Uber driver.

“I’ve never been in any accidents,” said Browning, “or been run off the road like that.”