Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of October 8, 2007
Sideswiped priest toots his legal horn
Belligerent trucker tries to shift blame for accident onto priest
A Missionary's Musings
By FR. JACQUES JOHNSON
Yesterday, Thursday, was just another day, or so it seemed, as I hit the road to Esquipulas Pajuil and San Pablo Pajuil. These two communities are rivals in some ways, but when it comes to Church they are devoted and involved as can be and a joy to a pastor.
Both have an impressive and huge church and usually they are full, with nearly 1,000 people at the Mass we celebrate every two months. The people are quite spiritual and their churches and what they signify are very dear to them.
It takes about an hour and a half to drive to these communities. The poor road conditions forced us to drive slowly.
I was nearing the community of San Marcos Beleju when I noticed heavy machines that were extracting stones, sand and rocks from the mountainside for construction purposes.
Suddenly the right side of the truck was violently and loudly impacted by what sounded like powerful machines that crushed the right side of my truck. I was out of the vehicle in seconds. Then I saw the awesome damage that took place to the vehicle. It was as if it had been chewed up and then spit all over.
The blame game
Then a few of the workers showed up to tell me that the damage to the truck was all my fault. I told them that all I did was to drive safely on the public road, minding my own business when somehow someone suddenly hit and terribly damaged my truck. They argued that it was my fault when I simply drove by at perhaps 20 km an hour.
A tall young man stood out and told us that he was driving his heavily loaded truck near the highway and as he was turning around he did not see my pickup on the highway and in the process he damaged its right side.
While other men were covering up and stupidly blaming me for the damage of the truck, this young fellow told them that he was responsible. He was new on the job and not yet accustomed to that big truck of his. He never saw us as we drove by on the road until it was too late.
I did not delay there long as I had to celebrate Mass in Esquipulas Pajuil in the morning and another one in Saint Pablo Pajuil in the afternoon. After the two Masses I was driving back with a young would-be Oblate named Estefan when he told me that on the road we were to meet the young man who had massacred our truck.
Shortly thereafter I could hardly believe my eyes when the tall young man in question appeared on the side of the road.
He wanted to talk with me, he said. So I invited him into the truck and asked him what he wanted. He said he was ready to pay half the cost of repairing the truck if I agreed to pay the other half.
I want a lawyer
My response was that I was innocent of all that happened to my truck and why should I pay for half the damage perpetrated by their hauling company? I intended to sue the trucking company for having seriously damaged my Toyota pickup and for endangering our lives. Should we turn a blind eye when they greatly damaged our vehicle and almost killed us? Who will be their next victims?
I have to say that this young man impressed me. He was new at handling his huge truck and he recognized his responsibility. He also volunteered to pay for half the damage although he's not a rich man, just a beginner worker. Most likely, I felt, there will be more to learn about this tall young man.
Indeed there was more as I phoned the head of the trucking company and spoke to him about paying the cost of the repair of the truck.
It was a con!
The man said that he had offered us a deal through his son about them paying 50 per cent of costs, and an equal amount to be paid by myself. So the contrite young man who wanted me to enter into a 50-50 deal was only Daddy's boy and a pawn to boot!
What a deal: They seriously damage my pickup and almost killed the two of us and I have to pay them 50 per cent of the cost of the repairs!
Would you go for such a golden deal? I won't! All I need now is a good lawyer to get this thing settled. In the meantime I continue to drive my truck, which is a major eyesore, and minister to the out-lying communities.
A local man is preparing an estimate for the repairs, which I will present to the young man who did the damage. Then we shall see.
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