Wrong Exit, Probably Danger

By Mark Kimzey

Most of you know me as a 4th degree black sash and a self-defense instructor for women. I am not in the habit of putting myself in dangerous situations and try not to look like an easy target. But on the night in question, someone or ones saw me as such. Let me tell you my little story.

I was coming home from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) between 8 and 9 p.m.  It was dark, of course, and I was traveling toward the bridge that brings me back to St. Louis, Missouri.  Somehow, I did not merge in time and found myself in East St. Louis. If you have even seen the movie National Lampoon’s Vacation with Chevy Chase, you get an idea of the area I found myself in. As I was driving, I noticed a white Cadillac behind me with one headlight out. It was an old model and very dirty. It was behind me for a very short time before its driver started flashing the headlight at me. I have always told my ladies in the self defense class to never pull over in a situation like this, so I took my own advice.  The headlight kept flashing in its attempt to get me to pull over, but there was no well-lit, populated area to pull into, so I kept driving. The car continued following. I sped up a little; so did the Caddi. I slowed way down; so did the Caddi. I changed speeds a few more times, and so did the Caddi.

Now, being very convinced that this was not a Good Samaritan with my best interest in mind, I switched lanes so that the threat was not directly behind me. Again, I changed speed to see what would happen, and the Caddi adjusted with me.

I then knew I needed to make a more aggressive maneuver to distance myself from my possible evil-doers. So I slowed way down again. This time, as the Caddi also slowed down, I quickly stomped the gas pedal to make my little Dodge Horizon jump forward and the Caddi lurched forward with me, just what I wanted it to do. I quickly hit my brakes causing an instant 5-6 car distance between us.  I pulled a quick “U turn” and in a short time found the entrance to the highway. 

When I was safely back on the highway, I realized how quickly things had gone from routine to potentially deadly.  This entire episode, from a wrong turn, to a U-turn, to a return, took no more than a few minutes.

Praise God that I had the knowledge I did which enabled me react correctly to this threat and come home safely to my wife and kids. If I may, I would like to recap a few of the things that helped me escape this very dangerous situation, so that if you ever find yourself in the same situation, you too may return safely.  First, not mentioned above, I had my doors locked and windows up. This would have given me a little more time to deal with a threat if I had been forced off the road. Secondly, I was aware that I was in a dangerous area and adjusted my mental attitude to the situation. Thirdly, most importantly, I did not pull over since I was not in a well-lit, populated area. (Never-ever pull over for anyone, including the police*, until you can get to a well-lit, populated area - keep driving , if you can do so safely, until you find one). Fourthly, I made sure this was a real, probable threat that I was responding to, not just my imagination. Next, I made sure no one was behind me when I made my quick U-turn. Finally, I kept track of the other car until I was sure I was no longer in danger from it.

Thanks for letting me share my story and I hope you never need to borrow my situation to deal with your own, but borrow freely if you ever need to. May God keep you safe as you go about your daily lives.

*If a police car is behind you with its lights on, put on your hazard lights, drive the speed limit and let the officer know you see him. Drive until you can pull into a well-lit, populated area. They followed O.J. for hours; they will follow you for the few minutes you need to make sure both you and the officer will be safe. There is also a number you can call on your cell phone to check with local police departments to make sure that you are being followed by a legitimate police officer. Check with your phone service and/or your local police department to get this number. Add the number to your speed dial.