Friday, September 4, 2015

Judge survives wreck, makes new buddies

Family Court judge survives wreck, makes new buddies

Judge survives wreck, makes new buddies

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JFamily Court Judge Kevin Dougherty <br />
JFamily Court Judge Kevin Dougherty JOSPEH KACZMAREK

It was a close call last week for Family Court Administrative Judge Kevin Dougherty,  who’s sore but doing fine after a one-car accident that demolished the city-owned Ford Crown Victoria he was driving.

The judge was traveling on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, headed to a conference in Pittsburgh, when he swerved somewhere in Somerset County to avoid a car that was fishtailing in the driving snowstorm.

“I bailed to the left, then lost control,” he says. “I did several three-sixties then crashed into the median. It was a blessing at that moment that no cars behind me were close enough to hit me.”

The Crown Vic didn't survive the wreck but Dougherty suffered only bangs and bruises, which he says he didn’t feel until hours later.

“I think the adrenaline kept me from feeling anything,” he says.

The silver lining of this miserable snow cloud, he says, is that it brought him into contact with many kind Pennsylvanians: the Good Samaritan who helped him get the smashed car off the road; the friendly flatbed operator that hauled the car to a garage in Breezewood; the state trooper who gave him a lift to a car-rental agency; and some businessmen with whom he wound up sharing the final, 20-mile leg of his journey to the conference. 

“I had just gotten the last car available at the rental agency,” he says, when the men, involved in an accident similar to Dougherty’s, came in, needing a vehicle to drive to Pittsburgh.

“We were in the middle of nowhere in Bedford County. I had no idea where I was. I said, 'If you give me directions to Pittsburgh, you can ride with me."

So they piled in and he dropped them in the city before continuing on to the conference. 

“I met some really great people," he says. "I'd rather have met them in a bar at the conference, but that’s the way it is.”

Daily News Columnist
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When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

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Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.


Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at polaner@phillynews.com.

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