It was a beautiful day. Or, at least it started out that way.
We were driving through a cute, little Italian town, waiting for the motor home mechanic to return after lunch.
We stopped for a red light next to a park. I, in the passenger seat, glanced over to the park and sidewalk as we exchanged small talk about the city and people.
The light turned green and Ted started the motor home moving, looking toward his left as he turned right at the corner. Suddenly we heard the motor home hit something.
He yelled “What did we hit?” as I looked out the window.
“A kid!” I screamed.
Ted yelled “A Kid!!” His face turned white. . Below me, I saw legs sticking out from under the body of our vehicle.
The motor home stopped, both of us exited at the same time. Finally out, we could hear crying. At least it’s not dead, I thought.
Ted helped pull the child out from under the steps of the home. I could see part of a bike behind the front tire. By now, people were beginning to gather around the stopped vehicle.
A little girl, about twelve stood up, crying as she looked at her scraped elbow. Someone from the crowd pulled her to the sidewalk and brushed dust from her clothes.
Ted and I stood in shock, watching the crowd pull the crumpled bike up and lean it against a low wall.
The mumble from the crowd was getting louder. All I could pick up from the Italian was “Americano.” You could almost see dollar signs dancing in front of the group. A young man rushed over to the girl. Someone said Tio and we understood it was her uncle. By now the girl was crying and rubbing her elbow. She didn’t appear to have any other injuries, the bike having taken the most damage.
Even if we had wanted to drive off, the crowd had moved to the street in front of our motor home. We waited, for what seemed like hours for the sound of the siren. The police pulled up and parked in back of us. Men swarmed all over, some talking to the crowd while others, using measuring tapes walked all around the camper.
None of the crowd of watchers or the police seemed to speak any English and we understood only a few words of Italian. A camera snapped pictures of our car from all directions while another man marked the point of impact with chalk on the street.
Finally, the lead cop, I presume, motioned for us to follow him to somewhere.
We returned to our seats, and with a shaky hand, Ted started the engine. The crowd watched us pull out, some making less than friendly gestures at us as we slowly followed the police car away.
We pulled up in front of what looked like a small office and parked. We locked the doors and with fearful hearts, followed the cop indoors. There, someone took our passports and made copies while the officers conversed behind glass in a small room.
Someone handed us our passports and one, who spoke a little English came out. Between his poor English, our little understanding of Italian, which was helped by the few words we understood because they were similar to Spanish, we got the story.
We had stopped for the red light. The girl, riding her bicycle on the sidewalk, saw the light was changing to green and sped up. I hadn’t seen her on my right on the sidewalk. Ted, having looked both ways, made his right hand turn. She had hit us and slid under the van.
We, with relief so thick it filled the room, paid the fifty Euros fine levied on all traffic offenses, guilty or not, and left to find our way out of town.
The girl and her parents, dreaming of big American dollars, were due in the next day, where she was to be fined for causing the accident.