Robert Novak

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The main reason I am writing this column is that many people have asked me how I first realized I was suffering from a brain tumor and what I have done about it.

But I also want to relate the reaction to my disease, mostly compassionate, that belies Washington's reputation.

The first sign that I was in trouble came on Wednesday, July 23, when my 2004 black Corvette struck a pedestrian on 18th Street in downtown Washington while I was on my way to my office.

I did not realize I had hit anyone until a shirt-sleeved young man on a bicycle, whom I incorrectly thought to be a bicycle messenger, jumped in front of my car to block the way. In fact, he was David A. Bono, a partner in the high-end law firm Harkins Cunningham. The bicyclist was shouting at me that I could not just hit people and then drive away. That was the first I knew about the accident. Mr. Bono called the police, and a patrolman soon arrived.

After I said I had no idea I had hit anyone until they flagged me down and informed me, Mr. Bono told The Washington Post, "I would not believe that." Fortunately, the investigating officer, P. Garcia, was a policeman who listened and apparently believed me. While Mr. Bono and other bystanders were taking on aspects of a mob, shouting "hit-and-run," Officer Garcia issued a right-of-way infraction against me, costing me $50, instead of a hit-and-run violation that would have been a felony. Following Officer Garcia's instructions, I promptly paid the $50 fine at Third District Police Headquarters in Northwest Washington, in cash and in person.

Officer Garcia's justification in believing me was soon confirmed by the diagnosis of my brain cancer, in which I have lost not only left peripheral vision but nearly all my left vision, probably permanently. Several people have asked me whether the person I hit was crossing in front of me on my left. I answer, "I never saw him."

The person I hit, identified by police as Don, with no fixed address, was taken to George Washington University Hospital, where police said, "There are no visible injuries."


Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.
 

 
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