A NYC driver was heading through an intersection when he collided with a US Border Patrol van, wrecking both cars and flipping the van onto its side. Border patrol agents immediately rushed him, accusing him of running the light. The dazed man wasn't sure what to think, but he didn't really have to — he had a dashcam.
The accident, like many accidents, happened pretty quickly, and the immediate aftermath was confusing. Here's how the driver describes it:
A few minutes later, as I was on the phone with 911, the driver of the van, a big burly guy in plainclothes, came running over to me with his US Border patrol badge exposed, screaming "Didn't you see the light? Did you not see the light?"
When the (real) cops came, the driver further accused me of going through a red light and causing the accident. All the passengers in the Border Patrol van repeated the same line: that I went through a red light.
I remained silent the whole time; I was dazed and confused after being knocked around, and I had just been pounded by a few airbags that went off in my car.
What that dashcam video showed was that the light was clearly green, and the Border Patrol van had made an illegal turn. They had their lights on, sure, but that doesn't mean the turn wasn't illegal. Here's what the man found from the video:
After I got home, I uploaded the video, and lo and behold: The light was green! After reviewing the video a few times, I realized exactly what had happened. The US border van had white and blue lights flashing on top of the van, causing the 2 cars in the left and center lanes to stop and let the van make a left turn (which was an illegal left, as you can see in the video). I was in the right lane, so I did not see the flashing lights, because from the driver's seat, the Border Patrol van was blocked by the other 2 cars. Furthermore, red flashing lights might have caught my attention, but faint white and blue lights in bright sunlight did not give me any indication of an emergency vehicle approaching. Not that the van had any excuse for ramming into me. I spoke to an accident attorney today, and he told me that, even in the event of an emergency, an emergency vehicle must take care and caution while driving, especially when they are doing something improper such as cutting into ongoing traffic. And anyway, what could have been the border patrol emergency? Were Canadians invading JFK?
Potential Canadian invasion notwithstanding, it certainly does look like that light was green, which makes the actions of the border patrol agents pretty suspect. More suspect is what they said on the police report, where they claimed that the
"van was westbound on Rockaway making a left turn southbound onto Farmers Blvd states thought all Eastbound traffic stopped for vehicle's turret lights and red light at intersection"
... which does not seem to square with what can be seen in the video.
Eventually, a court will wade through all the mess, but based on the video it does seem like the driver of the car wasn't doing anything particularly wrong, except maybe lacking some slightly superhuman reflexes and senses. The Border Patrol van, even with lights on, is still responsible for making sure it can proceed safely, which turned out not to be the case here.
Luckily, no one was hurt, and we did at least learn that those Ford E-Series grilles can really catch some air.