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Sen. Hatch 'Mortified' He Nearly Hit Pedestrian

First Family

Updated, 5:10 p.m. ET

At the tail end of a nasty summer thunderstorm Tuesday evening, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) nearly plowed down a woman in a crosswalk on Capitol Hill.

A Sleuth reader who saw the incident yesterday says Hatch "grazed" the unidentified woman with his beige Cadillac. "He hit her but she is OK," the source, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

Hatch, in a telephone interview with the Sleuth this morning, said he doesn't believe he actually hit or even grazed the pedestrian. But he acknowledged she "jumped back" and was "very upset."

"I was mortified," Hatch said. "I didn't see her at all."

The pedestrian had her umbrella up, and seemed to come out of nowhere in the intersection of 1st and C Streets NE as Hatch was leaving the Senate Hart office building. Hatch said was "drifting through the intersection very slowly" when "all of a sudden, I saw this umbrella."

The 75-year-old senator stayed in his car and rolled down the window to speak to the woman, who he thought recognized him, though he couldn't be sure. He didn't identify himself as Sen. Hatch. But, he said, he "apologized profusely."

"I said, 'I didn't see you. I'm so sorry,'" he said, adding, "She seemed OK. I felt really badly about it."

The Utah Republican powerhouse says he drove home and made a courtesy call to the Capitol Police to report what had happened. (Always a smart move, especially for a politician, since eyewitnesses and informants in Washington seem to be everywhere.)

The Capitol Police have no record of a report of the incident, according to a Capitol Police spokeswoman, which suggests the woman Hatch nearly ran over never called the police about it. Senate Sgt. at Arms Terrance Gainer, who oversees the Capitol Police, tells the Sleuth that since "there's no evidence of damage and no one was hurt," police will take no action.

Gainer says there was no reason for Hatch to call the police last night but that he did so "out of an abundance of caution." The matter, Gainer says, has been put to rest since the woman in the crosswalk hasn't come forward.

Hatch, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, certainly had a lot on his mind yesterday as he left work. He had expressed frustration with the quick timing of the hearing schedule that Democrats set for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. (He had fumed to reporters that the process was "being rigged and rushed for no apparent reason other than that the majority can do so.")

Hatch's driving ability -- or at least his ability to test drive a hybrid Hummer -- was lampooned last month by the Post's Dana Milbank, who wrote, "Those standing on Delaware Avenue NE outside the Capitol yesterday afternoon probably have no idea how close they came to witnessing a tragedy."

As for yesterday's near-miss, Hatch tells us he'd like to find out who the mystery pedestrian is. "If you get her name please let me know, I'd like to personally apologize."

By Mary Ann Akers  |  June 10, 2009; 1:13 PM ET
 
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Comments

Listen, Orrin, the time to apologize in person was yesterday.

Typical Snob Republican: afraid to get out of the Caddie and deal directly with the people. Maybe he was afraid she'd smell the booze on his breath.

He is also a typical Myopic Republican, letting his poor vision allow this country to crash into things.

Posted by: MikeK3 | June 10, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

"The 75-year-old senator stayed in his car and rolled down the window to speak to the woman, who he thought recognized him, though he couldn't be sure. He didn't identify himself as Sen. Hatch. But, he said, he 'apologized profusely.'"

Um, MikeK, according to this, he *did* apologize in person. He wants to do so again and formally perhaps, but apparently he did in fact apologize. Getting out of the car would likely have made traffic even worse and possibly gotten more people hurt in the process.

(Say I who's no fan of Sen. Hatch or the Republican party, but on this one aside from the rather high likeihood that neither he nor the pedestrian were paying attention until he almost hit her -- she taking shelter under her umbrella, he distracted for whatever reason -- there doesn't appear to be any major breach of etiquette or law here; he apologized, she didn't call the cops but he filed a report with the Capitol Police to pre-empt any report that might come in and wants to ensure that the woman knows that he's sorry it happened.)

Posted by: forget@menot.com | June 10, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if anyone thought to do a breathalyzer on Hatch? You can bet that if the offender here was a Democrat, they'd have torn his car apart looking for contraband, liquor bottles, and so forth.

Recall the Kennedy incident a couple of years back as an example.

She certainly should consider filing a lawsuit, it being the U.S. and all.

Posted by: Decipherer | June 10, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

He was so mortified he wet his special panties.

Posted by: edwcorey | June 10, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like it's time for Orrin to retire! He probably thought she was a Democrat!LOL

Posted by: asclepious2 | June 10, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

"You can bet that if the offender here was a Democrat, they'd have torn his car apart looking for contraband, liquor bottles, and so forth.

Recall the Kennedy incident a couple of years back as an example."

Yes, I do recall the Kennedy incident, but apparently you don't.

Patrick Kennedy got a free ride home from the Capitol Police.

So much for his car being stripped in a search for contraband.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | June 10, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

MAYBE IT'S TIME TO TURN IN THE LICENSE. 75 YEARS OLD IS OK TO DRIVE IN THE MID WEST BUT DC TAXES THE BEST OF DRIVERS.
TO NOT SEE A PERSON IN THE CROSSWALK IS VERY SERIOUS.
TO NOT REPORT IT IS CRIMINAL.
THE LADY COULD HAVE BEEN MORE SHOCKED THAN THE SENATOR. I HOPE SHE RECOVERS ENOUGH TO SUE HIM. I BET SHE CAN USE THE MONEY. ESPECIALLY IF HE WAS IN AN AREA WHERE HE WAS AFRAID TO GET OUT OF THE CAR.
NO WONDER D.C. HAS NOT BECOME INDEPENDENT. THE POOR FOLKS THERE ARE JUST SURFS.

Posted by: sm98yth | June 11, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

It's quite possible that the lady that had the encounter with Sen. Hatch was a tourist and has returned home. It's also possible that she is upset about this and has chosen to ignore it as her way of dealing with the situation.

Senator, if such a thing ever happens again you really should take down the information about the other party. That will save you from those who might choose to say they are the injured party falsely. It will also show that you are indeed very sincere in your apology and that you're a responsible citizen when you give full and accurate information to the law enforcement officers.

That being said, I strongly suggest that Sen. Hatch take some time out of his busy schedule and set up a few classes with a driving instructor and I do mean within this month. At the worst this will show him and his instructor if he's still a good risk for being a driver. At best it will help him to get over the trauma of this incident. It will also go a long way in silencing those who are "agist" in their opinion of drivers. Just my humble thoughts. Your mileage may vary.

Posted by: Valgerd | June 11, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

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