November 25, 2012—Stockton, California—A woman was hospitalized Friday after being hit with a flying “missile” from a passing car. In this case, the object was not a bullet, but a pumpkin. Stockton police reported that an unidentified 51-year-old woman was walking near North Wilson Way and East Roosevelt Street about 10 p.m. when a white four-door sedan drove by. Someone in the car hurled a pumpkin directly at her, hitting her in the chest. She collapsed and the car sped away. Police found her after being called by a witness and transported her to a hospital. She is listed in stable condition.
Drive-by “Pranks” Can Be Deadly
Since police departments write up these types of “prank” incidents under different headings, it is difficult to compile information on exactly how many drive-by assaults of this type actually occur in a given year.
California law separates assault into the categories of “non-aggravated assault,” of which there are over 250,000 per year according to the State Attorney General’s Office, and “assault with a dangerous weapon” of which there are more than 50,000 per year. These charges are not to be confused with aggravated assault with a weapon such as a knife or firearm; those statistics are kept separately from garden-variety aggravated assault numbers.
Although a pumpkin is normally not considered a “deadly weapon,” it is likely that if these miscreants were arrested they would be charged with aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon since they caused physical injury to the woman.
What Caused This Accident?
Many people honestly do not mean to hurt another person when they perform silly actions or pranks. In this case, the perpetrators may honestly have thought that the pumpkin would not cause physical damage or they may have intended only to frighten the woman, not hit her. It is also possible that they were not aiming for her at all, but simply threw a pumpkin out of the car window for some unknown reason. However, that does not release the perpetrators from their legal responsibility and liability for the injuries they caused.
If the people who caused this accident are caught, the victim has the right to collect damages for her medical bills, her pain and suffering, and the emotional trauma and embarrassment she endured as a result of this accident. However, until the suspects are arrested, it will be impossible for her to collect these damages. It is important that any witnesses who may have information about the crime step forward and report their information to the police. A personal injury attorney could help the victim protect her rights, only after the suspects have been caught.