I made it there last night, and ended up on the 11 o'clock news on NBC, without realizing I was on camera. I tried taking some pictures on my cellphone of the memorial created there by fans, but my phone would just not save them for some reason.
For my story yesterday,.......
Actually starts Wednesday night, we went to the resort for a couple hours which turned out to be a mistake. The place was a madhouse, barely room to move, and ended up missing a really good baseball game, or at least the first 6 innings of it. We escaped the park after the fireworks were over by riding the monorail to downtown disney. Ended the night by getting a monkey for myself at Build A Bear, and dressing it in an Angel's uniform like I've been wanting for some time. It's been named "Ral Lee."
After one doc appointment yesterday and coming home, I saw the story on Nick and was immediately heartbroken. An invention idea had come to mind that could prevent tragedies like this, so I called a guy I knew, and he said the idea would have to be researched. More on that in a moment. Becka had another doc appointment, so on the way we tried to drive by the crash site, but the intersection was still blocked off in all directions, and they were redirecting traffic. I turned around, headed back to the freeway, and went on our way. While Becka was at her appt though, I came back and made it to the street corner where the makeshift memorial was getting bigger in size. All vehicles had been cleared out by this time, so I can only imagine they opened the intersection a short time later after I left. When I picked Becka up, I was trying to call in to KLAC AM 830, the Angels radio station. They were taking calls from fans about the accident and the whole situation. Kept getting busy signals naturally though. But we were making our way back to the Anaheim area, planning on driving by the stadium. The moment we pulled into the parking lot, I got through. They asked if I wanted to say a few things on the air, when I said yes, they placed me on hold after asking my name and where I was from.
They were letting fans into the stadium parking lot yesterday for free. Giving out fliers for those that had tickets to the postponed game. The memorial here was a bit larger than the one at the crash site, and it was only going to get larger. News vans were here of course, from NBC, ABC, FOX, KCAL, and CBS. Angel announcers Rex Hudler and Steve Physioc (forgive my spelling) were there, along with 2 guys from FOX Sports West, as well as Guillermo Mota, (again, please forgive my spelling) Gubizcan one of their radio announcers (sorry if my spelling is off) and their public announcer. These guys were on the air a little later sharing their thoughts on Nick and the game last night. We didn't stay too long, but I did get to meet Rex and one of the guys from Fox Sports West. They were all very cool. But what was really irking me around this time, there were fans there going around and asking these guys for autographs!! I mean C'MON!!! This isnt the time for autographs people. These guys from this organization, no FAMILY, are having a rough day and it just isn't right to be asking for autographs! But it shows how cool they were because they didn't say no until they went inside to do the show.
We left for dinner, and I left Becka at home with Aiden to go back to the stadium, in my Angels attire with Ral Lee in tow to show my support. When I returned, some media was still there, as well as some folks that were there earlier. The memorial had increased in size. Of those that were on scene, were some that were "close" witnesses to the accident. And what I mean by close, is that they were right behind the car that Nick and his friends were in. They weren't directly involved, but they saw all of it. A gentleman that I talked to said that he was checking on two of the 3 vehicles involved. For those that aren't clear on the details......
Nick and 3 of his friends, one of them a female who was the driver were heading north on Lemon St in Fullerton when a drunk driver in a van slammed into them while heading eastbound on Orangethorpe. He basically T-Boned them. One of Nick's friends from Manhatten Beach, Ca, died instantly. It's believed he was sitting behind the female driver, who died on scene. The man I talked to, said he was tried talking to all of them, but they were unresponsive. He also stated he talked to the passenger in the van, and asked where the driver was. The driver had taken off. Per another person on camera who didn't want to be identified, stated he witnessed the driver stumbling and muttering to himself "Why did I do this, why did I do this?" and took off running southbound in the direction of the freeway, where he was caught 30 minutes later. The passenger he left behind who was injured, turned out to be his younger brother. And per reports, they had been drinking at a family get together, where the driver fought with family members before leaving, heading for Covina in LA County. As for Nick and his friends, the female driver was alive when fire fighters removed her, but she died on scene. Nick and the other male passenger were taken out of the back of the car. They had to completely remove the top of the eclipse to get to them. The guy I talked to said he witnessed it all, and saw when Nick was being taken out that he moaned very, very slightly but still not responsive. Nick and the other male had been taken to UC Irvine hospital in Orange across from the Block to receive medical attention. Nick died in surgery from his injuries, the other passenger was still clinging to life, last reported. The drunk driver, yes, he had a previous DUI from 2006, and he was driving on a suspended license. He's also had 2 previous arrests since the DUI in 2006.
As for my idea, I ran it by Becka on the way home yesterday, and she said it's already out, some states already have it. When I had returned there yesterday the second time, I remained there with other Angel fans until after 11pm. While there, I talked with a couple of ladies from MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and asked them about my idea. They did confirm that is out in other states. Basically, a breathalizer installed in a vehicle that will measure a person's alcohol level, and if it is above the safe and legal driving limit, the car will not start for like another 6 minutes before they could reattempt the test. They mentioned that is being done in states like Arizona, and others that they did not mention. But for those states that do have it, there DUI percentage has dropped a lot. But to get in states like California, it's up to the judge or District Attorney. They thanked me for my words and stated "It's nice to know that there are people like you that think of resolutions to problems like this."
Becka and myself have a strong connection to the Angels. Though she's from Jersey and a die hard Yankees fan, I'm a die hard Angels fan. On Friday August 25th, 2006 she and I attented the Angels game at Angels stadium, to watch them play the visiting Yankees in the first game of the weekend series. Being a Friday night, it was Big Bang Fireworks night. Later that night, our son Aiden was conceived. The day he came home from the hospital, was the next time the Yankees were in town to face the Angels during the 2007 season. And our wedding reception took place at the Anaheim Hilton, which is right down the street from the stadium and can be seen from the front entrance where the big baseball caps are. Basically, a stone's throw (or a baseball's throw) away from the stadium. This little story also has a small Dodgers connection to it. Before getting Ral Lee, I had a bear from BAB in a dodgers uniform. When Aiden was born and first brought home, that uniform was the only thing that fit him. And I had the picture to prove it!
In regards to Nick's dad, it was reported that he was invited by Nick to see the game, his first major league start of the season. Quoted by his agent Boras, "Something special is going to happen." Though such a tragedy, at least he was here to see his son live out his dream. Some were saying that his dad sat at his son's locker for most of the day. It was also reported that last night, Nick's dad stood out on the pitchers mound on an empty field for several minutes. Can you just imagine that sight, or that moment? About every news report said "He pitched the game of his life." Never were words ever more true. I came home to watch the 10 and 11 pm news reports that we DVR'd. I wasn't interviewed by any of the press, though I did talk casually to some of them, including legendary Jim Hill who was on scene. I was surprised to see myself on Channel 4 in one of the shots they took of the fans surrounding the memorial, a nice close up shot for about a second.
To close out this long reply, I'll say what I said on the air over the radio, as well as what I signed on one of the cards at the stadium....
"Rest in Peace Nick. Anaheim may have lost an Angel, but Heaven has now gained one. You will be missed."