It's Sunday and we embarked early for our routine of biking and skating on the closed Diego Martin highway. There was a kids triathlon event planned for 7am so we'd have to get our workout done by then.
We completed our usual 10 laps of the 2km stretch of road, said good morning to some friends whose kid was competing, got bananas at the fruit stand and headed for home on our bikes. A pretty normal routine for us.
On the 3km trip back there is a major intersection that is well controlled with traffic lights. It was just opened in August and can be dangerous because of visibility issues and speeds. We are always very cautious when we approach as we have to make a right hand turn (that's like a left for most of you).
We are well aware of the pattern of the change of lights as we pass through here on our route to work daily. The right turn arrow had just changed to red when we arrived, so we knew that we'd be waiting a full cycle of about 4 minutes until we could go. After the traffic from the west goes, the north and south traffic have greens for about 2 and a half minutes. During their green, one of the lanes heading north, towards us did not move as expected. A car was stopped at the front with a line up behind it.
This was very unusual. What is equally unusual is that there were only one or two honks. Trinis will usually honk within one second of a light turning green if you are not moving. I am not exaggerating at all. We've become used to it, it is so common.
To complicate things even further, there were two police men on motor cycles with their blue lights flashing at the intersection approaching from the west. Police will often drive with their lights flashing for no reason. Yep, not kidding. If there are sirens you have to move over, but you can ignore the lights. I think they just want to be more visible.
So, back to the main story. We are approaching from the north in the right turn lane. Police are to our right, the lane of traffic is not moving coming from the south on the other side. After some time, I noted to Gayle that it had been at least 45 seconds and the car was not moving. Cars from behind started to move into the other lane to go around, but no one seemed to pay any attention to the stopped vehicle.
Becoming increasingly concerned, Gayle said, "I wonder if they are all right?" We hadn't seen any movement from the driver so we said we'd better check on her (it looked like the driver might have been female). As soon as the light changed, we darted across to find a man slumped over behind the wheel. While still on my bike I approached the passenger window and tried to get a response from the driver with a loud yell, hoping he had just nodded off. Nothing...
I quickly parked my bike against the railing and ran around to the driver's side. On the way, I flagged the waiting police to come over. I reached the right side of the car and my first aid training kicked in -- "hey are you ok!." I yelled loudly and tapped the driver on the shoulder.
He looked up, rather dozily, and reached his hand up for a fist-bump. PHEW! He was ok. I was not going to have to use any CPR skills today! By the look of his eyes, he had either been awake for several days or had been imbibing rather heavily. It wasn't until then that I noticed he had a friend with him who was sleeping in the fully reclined passenger seat!
Within seconds the police arrived, parked their motorcycles and were at the car. The driver, instinctively reached for his seat belt as he saw the officers. "...PUT DE CAR IN PARK..." I suddenly realized that this fellow was probably going to get into some serious trouble and didn't waste any time moving back to the other side of the car to collect my bike and Gayle. "Let's get out of here....hopefully he won't recognize us..." As we rode away, I confirmed that we both had kept our sunglasses on during the transaction.