Beamer Hits Carriage, Cops Hit Cruise Control

They know whose car it was, but no charges were filed.

On the evening of Dec. 23, a family piled into one of JoAnne Graf's carriages in downtown Seattle to enjoy a horse-drawn holiday ride. A little before 6:30 p.m., as Graf's horse made a left turn onto Pike from First Avenue, the buggy was severely clipped on the right by a man driving a 1999 BMW 328. According to a police report, the Beamer immediately fled the scene. Thankfully, no one was hurt, and the carriage driver managed to get a license plate number, which led the cops to a name and address in Arlington. This was subsequently added to the police report—which includes a stick-figure drawing of a horse—and that was the end of it from the law enforcement side. Graf says she's repeatedly tried to make contact with the man who hit her carriage, but has received no response. Her insurance company is also getting the brush-off, and the police refuse to get involved. She says that when her insurance company contacted police about the incident, they were informed that no charges would be filed, as there were no injuries. This lack of action is hindering Graf's efforts to get repairs covered, and has rendered her carriage out of commission since the accident. Under Washington state law, a driver must stay on the scene of an accident if there is any property damage, equestrian or otherwise. Failing to do so is a gross misdemeanor. Seattle police spokesperson Mark Jamieson says knowing who owns the car isn't enough to file any charges, as the owner may not have been behind the wheel. "We don't have any witnesses that could put somebody at the scene driving that car," he says. Jamieson adds that since there were no injuries, filing a report was about as much as police could do. But Graf believes the police could do more to investigate, and says their failure to do so shows a fundamental bias against the antiquated downtown transit service she provides during the holidays. "I feel like I'm being treated like a second-class citizen because it's a carriage and not a car," she says.

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