- The American Conservative - https://www.theamericanconservative.com -

So That Was A Thing That Happened

photo-6 [1]So, this is a thing that just happened.

We were coming out of the restaurant in the town where my family, Mike Leming, and the three Leming girls had taken my mother for her birthday celebration. We heard a series of loud crashes just up the street. All ten of us were on the sidewalk, with our view of the conflagration obscured by the two SUVs parked at the curb. Before any of us could move, we saw a metal waste bin and a metal bench flying through the air (both of them had been bolted to the concrete), and a pickup come to a halt in front of the bank across the street. The driver, a middle-aged man, sat slumped in the driver’s seat, rocking back and forth, either drunk as hell or having a seizure. Or so we thought.

Turns out he had swerved onto the sidewalk on the other side of the street, about 50 yards away, and on his route, had taken out two trees, part of a low brick wall, a post, and the aforementioned metallic objects.

As luck would have it, a cop was passing him going in the opposite direction as it happened, and was able to come help at once. Mike, who is an EMT, went over to help too. The guy was in shock, and his doors were locked. The cop called an ambulance. Finally the driver came around, and unlocked the doors. Mike opened the door and did whatever EMTs do, but he didn’t dare move the driver. When the ambulance finally arrived, Mike left and returned to us. As he turned to cross the street toward us, blood began dripping out of the cab of the truck.

“He shot himself,” Mike said. “The inside of the truck is covered with blood. The gun is on the floor.”

What happened was this. The man told Mike and the police officer that he had been out shooting his weapon, and was headed home. The gun was sitting on the seat next to him. It slid off the seat and discharged, shooting him in the lower left leg. He began to black out, and lost control of his vehicle. The man expressed to them terror that he had hit somebody (he had not, thank God).

As we stood there talking with Mike about it, Nora turned green, started to tremble, and began to black out. Julie caught her at the last second. When we got her to the car, she quickly recovered. She told us that looking at the man’s blood pooling on the street caused her to feel faint.

Gun safety is important, folks. Also, to be on the safe side, don’t leave the house, ever. It’ll be better that way.

I took the photo above from the car window as we were leaving the scene. It was much more destructive than the image above indicates. On the far right of the frame is where he swerved onto the sidewalk. You can see the corner of the brick wall he took out. He continued for 40 or so more yards. Say a prayer for him. His Christmas is not going to be very much fun.

UPDATE: Sitting here thinking about this freak turn of events, I find it chilling to be reminded how fragile our lives are, how at any moment everything could change. Nobody expects a driver to shoot himself in the leg and take out half a city block with his car on Christmas Eve in a peaceful small town. But it happened.

Advertisement
34 Comments (Open | Close)

34 Comments To "So That Was A Thing That Happened"

#1 Comment By Chela429 On December 24, 2015 @ 4:49 pm

It happens all the time. If you follow it the stories, it happens several times a week all over the US. I’m so glad he is not seriously injured and that no one else was injured. Someone was looking out for him, in spite of his carelessness.

#2 Comment By Tom D On December 24, 2015 @ 4:55 pm

Yikes! What a scary story. And amazing that no one other than the driver was hurt or killed.

Definitely some lessons in gun safety to be taken from this story, too.

#3 Comment By MichaelGC On December 24, 2015 @ 5:01 pm

These kinds of tragedies and near tragedies are so easily avoided. I’ve been out shooting before with groups of people, with all kinds of rifles and handguns between us. The last thing was emptying any unspent rounds from the pieces, putting the safety locks on, and double checking each piece as it was put in the car for the trip back.

It sounds like when he was done he just tossed the hand gun in the seat and took off. The trigger does not have to be pulled for a loaded gun to discharge. Any sudden jolt, such as dropping it, can do it.

#4 Comment By Charles Cosimano On December 24, 2015 @ 5:34 pm

The bullet didn’t kill him but he should die of embarrassment.

#5 Comment By Dan Berger On December 24, 2015 @ 6:04 pm

Wow. Thank God no one was killed. At least you have another reason to remember this Christmas with your mother.

My mother’s 82, and there aren’t going to be very many more Christmases to spend with her.

#6 Comment By Dux Bellorum, Austinopole On December 24, 2015 @ 6:44 pm

Nobody expects a driver to shoot himself in the leg and take out half a city block with his car on Christmas Eve in a peaceful small town. But it happened.

Except for liberals who’ve been screaming about the possibility of failure and accidents with guns, even for the most conscientious owners, for decades.

Risk is classically defined as likelihood times probability, or, in other words, how likely something is to happen times how bad it’d be if it did.

This kind of thing is medium likelihood and can have catastrophic consequences: imagine that instead of some small town in Louisiana, someone is driving back on I-10 to the other side of Houston and he has this accident while on an off-ramp.

Best wishes and thank god that you survived though.

$0.02,

DBA

#7 Comment By Fernando On December 24, 2015 @ 7:29 pm

Rod,
I am taking this thread to have the opportunity to wish you and your family a merry Christmas. Like you said, some things unexpectedly happen… some good… some bad… One of the good ones for me is stumbling by chance to your blog. Your voice is needed… you must get a lot of comments saying this but count me in on those that thanks that you have the courage to write about difficult topics, both from a political and a personal point of view. Also, thanks to all your family, if they are anything like me some might be very zealous with their privacy (honestly, I post in facebook about twice a year, less than I post here). If that is the case let them know that their stories help inspire other people…

[NFR: Thanks, Fernando, I will tell them tomorrow when I see them for Christmas dinner. Feliz Navidad to you and your family! — RD]

#8 Comment By Geoff Arnold On December 24, 2015 @ 8:40 pm

Only in America….

#9 Comment By Florence On December 24, 2015 @ 8:41 pm

What a stupid thing to do! People can be so careless! Thank goodness he didn’t kill or injure anyone else!

#10 Comment By Laine On December 24, 2015 @ 8:41 pm

Ban guns

[NFR: Ban stupidity! — RD]

#11 Comment By Eamus Catuli On December 24, 2015 @ 9:44 pm

This is why we need concealed carry everywhere. It will really improve public safety when we turn it over to guys like this.

#12 Comment By LT_15b On December 24, 2015 @ 11:23 pm

This kind of thing is medium likelihood

Really? Medium likelihood? I am only 47 years old, but in all my 47 years I have never heard of this happening before. I would say the likelihood is slim-to-none, and that door you just heard slamming shut was the slim.

Perhaps this is an argument for better gun control. You know, two hands on the gun at all times. You can control it better that way.

Someone who leaves a loaded handgun on a seat next to him or herself is an idiot.

#13 Comment By Gretchen On December 25, 2015 @ 12:59 am

[NFR: Ban stupidity! — RD]
Stupidity could be defined as driving around with an unsecured gun. But when not letting people be stupid with guns is framed as “never leave the house”, then stupidity reigns. The fact is, that if this stupid, untrained, careless person had not had a gun, he could not have put your family at risk and traumatized your daughter with the sight of dripping blood. What’s more imporatant? Keeping stupid people from traumatizing your daughter, or allowing any irresponsible idiot have any guns anywhere?

[NFR: If anybody is allowed to own a gun, ever, then we run the risk of stupid people owning guns. There are hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana who own guns for hunting, sport, and protection, who know how to use them safely and who never have this happen. If we ban cars, we will never have to worry about cars crashing into trees and buildings. — RD]

#14 Comment By Bert Clere On December 25, 2015 @ 1:02 am

This reminds me of a Christmas Eve a few years ago when I drove my family to a movie in Clinton, NC. We were coming back on one of those typical country roads with two lanes going opposite directions. Suddenly this drunk guy comes around the corner doing 80 or so in our lane directly in front of us. I jerked the car to the side and did a 360 down into a ditch. Not only were we lucky to survive, but there was a cop right there at an intersection who immediately turned on his lights and went after the guy. If I hadn’t jerked the car in that split second I probably would have been killed. I think about that a lot. You never know when it’s your time.

#15 Comment By JonF On December 25, 2015 @ 7:28 am

Re: Ban stupidity!

I’ll get on that band wagon.

More seriously I am glad no one was killed. And I hope Nora does not have nightmares over this.

#16 Comment By EB On December 25, 2015 @ 10:26 am

Don’t ban guns. But make it much harder for people like this to get and/or retain guns. In Japan, you can have a gun but you’re subject to strict safety regs much like car emissions and safety testing.

#17 Comment By J On December 25, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

LIfe In A Southern Town, chapter 42.

You guys just have more crazy.

[NFR: You say that like it’s a bad thing. — RD]

#18 Comment By Darth Thulhu On December 25, 2015 @ 4:49 pm

One is reminded of the scene in State and Main where Alec Baldwin’s character, beyond drunk, possibly on other drugs as well, launches his car catastrophically through the center of a very small, very rural town in Vermont.

The man emerges from the flipped vehicle, delirious, looks around in a bleary way, and says, “So … that happened.”

One of David Mamet’s better screenplays, and definitely his funniest. Definitely worth catching if you can.

#19 Comment By Gretchen On December 25, 2015 @ 5:00 pm

I’m sorry. That sounded flippant. I’m glad your family and especially your daughter had such an upsetting experience. Problem is, guns are so prevalent that people are getting shot even in their own houses. The most poignant I saw was a young father sitting on his couch in his own house, with his newborn infant. Some idiots in a nearby field were shooting, and one bullet went through the wall and killed him. On his own couch. Southern Beale has basically turned over her blog to gun fails, and never runs low on material. There are lots of people sitting in their own homes that get shot by the idiot next door cleaning or playing with his gun. There’s got to be something that can be done besides throw up our hands and say that’s life in America.
I hope you’re enjoying your Christmas well away from the internet, Rod, and get a good rest.

#20 Comment By Jolly On December 25, 2015 @ 8:24 pm

Darwin Award Runner-Up!

Merry Christmas, everyone.

#21 Comment By dominic1955 On December 25, 2015 @ 9:36 pm

Guns don’t just fall that short of a distance and “go off”. I don’t know of many guns for which that is even possible. Certainly, maybe he had a SAA Colt repro without any safety block for the hammer or some such but typically when something like this happens, they call it an “accident” because it saves more face that admitting that you were doing something stupid and shot yourself.

Just think off all the unfortunate stories of someone getting killed or seriously injured in a car wreck and no one (well, the vast majority of people) don’t go into hysterics about the need to ban cars or booze.

[NFR: I know, right? About your first graf, the more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that the driver had to have been fiddling with the gun exactly as you speculate. But then I learned from my brother in law (who saw the gun lying on the floor of the truck) that the weapon was a derringer. [2] It is reasonable to assume the victim is telling the truth, but that he failed to set the safety on the gun when he set it down on his truck seat. — RD]

#22 Comment By Eamus Catuli On December 26, 2015 @ 12:23 am

[NFR: If anybody is allowed to own a gun, ever, then we run the risk of stupid people owning guns. There are hundreds of thousands of people in Louisiana who own guns for hunting, sport, and protection, who know how to use them safely and who never have this happen. If we ban cars, we will never have to worry about cars crashing into trees and buildings. — RD]

Strange comment. There is, of course, a middle ground. Every state in the union requires training, a test and a license to operate a car. Would be perfectly in order to require the same of gun owners, right?

#23 Comment By Kerry On December 26, 2015 @ 8:25 am

Was the ‘gun’ that fell and “just went off” “all by itself
which “happens several times a week all over America”, a revolver, a semi-automatic pistol or a rifle? Anyone, anyone, “Bueller”? How does the trigger pull, measured in pounds vary between revolvers and semi-automatic pistols? Which generally has the heavier and which the lighter trigger pull? If a semi-automatic pistol, was it striker fired or hammer fired? If the latter, was it equipped with a safety or a de-cocker. What was the caliber of the round? (BTW, the bullet is the projectile, the brass is the brass, primers and propellant are the rest.) If firearms, inanimate objects with neither volition nor consciousness cause behavior problems in human beings, how do we know it wasn’t the car herself that using its Ninja, Sith lord dark powers, (there are more cars than guns, and cars easily overpower human beings, it happens all the time), swerved into the brick retaining wall, while simultaneously forcing the driver,some unknown minutes earlier to stupidly stash his still loaded pistol on the front seat, and just as it evilly swerved towards the bricks, forced him to pick it up, shoot himself in the thigh, and make him forget he had manipulated the trigger himself, making him beleeve the ‘gun had fallen to the floor, and just gone off’. Makes sense to me.

I’d be dollars to donuts he was fooling around with the pistol on the front seat, steering with one hand, looking some time at the driving and some time at the pistol, with his finger on the trigger(shazaam!), swerved a bit, overcompensated and by reflex action pulled the trigger finger.

BTW, in California, by law, drop tests are performed on pistols before they can be sold in the state.

[NFR: I had just about decided that a scenario like the one you described was the real story when I learned from my brother-in-law (who saw the gun on the floor of the truck) that the weapon was a derringer. As I pointed out in an earlier comment, [2] Seems reasonable to me that the gun owner carelessly forgot to set the safety mechanism. — RD]

#24 Comment By Oakinhou On December 26, 2015 @ 10:04 am

Serious question

Had he hurt someone, what would have been the legal consequences for “carelessly forgetting to set the safety mechanism” and thus triggering (pun intended) a totally preventable tragedy, if only he hadn’t been careless.

Most gun accidents are no accidents, but negligence.

#25 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On December 26, 2015 @ 1:23 pm

Safety is something missing from the gun debate. The compulsively anti-gun crowd doesn’t believe there is such as thing as gun safety, and the compulsive I-can-walk-down-the-street-with-my-gun-hanging-out-and-play-with-it-anyway-I-want crowd doesn’t know what it is.

I guy I knew for a few years, born in Colorado, spent a good deal of his adult life in Virginia, ended up in Wisconsin after a nasty divorce, said there were guns in the house he grew up in, but the fastest way to be in too much pain to sit down for a week was either to go into grandma’s purse or to lay so much as a finger on a gun in the absence of adult supervision and permission.

We’ve got too many overgrown kids running around with guns, and too many people who are so into their guns that they forget, yes, there are reasons our right to keep them is protected, but there are essential protocols to HOW you keep them. They really are not a toy.

#26 Comment By Darwin’s S-list On December 26, 2015 @ 2:48 pm

I find it chilling to be reminded how fragile our lives are, how at any moment everything could change.

This is one of those things that we all “know” intellectually, but it’s still shocking when it happens. A couple of weeks ago, a (sober, healthy) friend I grew up with tripped walking down a flight of stairs that he’d used countless times before. He hit his head in the fall and died. Just like that.

In grieving, I don’t know how many times I’ve swung between “This doesn’t seem real. How could this have happened?” and “Why couldn’t it?”

#27 Comment By panda On December 26, 2015 @ 3:06 pm

“Just think off all the unfortunate stories of someone getting killed or seriously injured in a car wreck and no one (well, the vast majority of people) don’t go into hysterics about the need to ban cars or booze.

Cars are rather tightly regulated. Booze is not available, in theory at least, to people younger than 21. Drinking and driving is illegal.. The analogy doesn’t make much sense here, does it?
[FWIW- I think that Heller was correctly decided and that the constitution allows Americans to own weapons. This doesn’t mean that states are not within their rights to demand people to undergo training before taking guns to the public domain]

#28 Comment By panda On December 26, 2015 @ 5:46 pm

And the more I think about the car analogy, the more it becomes the absolute opposite of what Dominic intended: back in the 1970s, safety issues with cars did become a national issue, and we underwent a whole series of reforms, because a bunch of people went into “hysterics” and forced stuff like mandatory seatbelts, much stricter enforcement of drunk driving laws and so on. Same goes for various emissions from cars..

#29 Comment By Kerry On December 26, 2015 @ 7:32 pm

Oh, a Derringer. Yup. Some have no trigger guard. Looking at some makes and models just now I see some single actions, some with crossbolt safeties. The man was very foolish to 1)Keep the pistol loose on the front seat,2)With a round chambered, 3)With,(I assume on a single action) the hammer pulled back, and so on. State laws vary from place to place, but in the two states where I have carried a firearm if it was not in the holster on my person, it was locked up, and in the trunk. And the firing range I shot at in MN did not allow anyone not ‘da Cops’ to enter the premises with loaded firearms, on the hip or what not. The man’s fortunate not to have hit his femoral artery. This is an excellent example of the great mercy of God than profound ignorance is not terrifically painful. Oh, and I may be wrong about dropped firearms as some really, really cheap, never buy these brands firearms may discharge when dropped. Quality firearms should not, hardly ever never, no how.
Keep your powder dry, and have lots of powder.

#30 Comment By Kerry On December 26, 2015 @ 7:34 pm

Rod, the ‘Safety mechanism’ is between the ears.

#31 Comment By dominic1955 On December 26, 2015 @ 11:18 pm

Then the gun in question was an example of what I was talking about-they are copies of the old Remington double barrel .41 cal rim fire pistols originally designed way back in the 1860s. The modern ones no longer use the doubly obsolete .41 RF round, but the design is quite similar. In other words, an obsolete design like the Colt SAA revolver which really shouldn’t be carried around loaded. Especially so with the Remington, as you can’t just leave one cylinder empty with the hammer down over it like with the Colt.

#32 Comment By dominic1955 On December 26, 2015 @ 11:38 pm

Panda,

No, because the market pretty much was responsible for added safety features on guns. It’s like the old steering wheel columns and lack of belts, but many guns had more reliable safety features added by the manufacturers out of concern for safety. Rebounding frame mounted firing pins (i.e. as found on practically all modern revolvers), the myriad safety catches developed over the years etc. Hysterics often results in unreasonable expectations from ignorant people, not useful advances.

With cars, some companies started adding increased safety features well before they were ever mandated, many people just thought of them as superfluous things that could be left off, like radios, to pinch pennies. People got more stirred up when people like Nader made it sound like there was an active conspiracy by car companies to kill their customers.

The emissions thing is also BS because the government made unreasonable expectations that kind of forced the hand of domestic makers to rush into production things that just were not ready to be put out, like Cadillac’s v8-6-4 engine or their HT4100 engine. Variable displacement technology now is used successfully, as is electronic fuel injection and transmissions with well more than 3 or 4 gears not to mention hybrid and full electric technology. More thought out developments are better in the long run than hastily thrown together responses to silly CAFE standards.

#33 Comment By panda On December 27, 2015 @ 11:27 am

“The emissions thing is also BS because the government made unreasonable expectations that kind of forced the hand of domestic makers to rush into production things that just were not ready to be put out, like Cadillac’s v8-6-4 engine or their HT4100 engine. Variable displacement technology now is used successfully, as is electronic fuel injection and transmissions with well more than 3 or 4 gears not to mention hybrid and full electric technology. More thought out developments are better in the long run than hastily thrown together responses to silly CAFE standards.

One word answer to that: lead.

#34 Comment By dominic1955 On December 27, 2015 @ 4:37 pm

Panda,

OK, well then we were talking about two different things there. I was talking about MPG standards, not leaded gasoline.