By Paul Duggan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Syndicated political columnist and television pundit Robert D. Novak was issued a $50 traffic citation yesterday after he struck and slightly injured a pedestrian while driving his sports car in downtown Washington, police said.
Witnesses said the accident occurred in slow-moving traffic about 10 a.m. as Novak, 77, was northbound on 18th Street NW near K Street in his black convertible 2004 Chevrolet Corvette. D.C. fire department spokesman Alan Etter said the victim was taken to George Washington University Medical Center with "very minor injuries." A police official identified him as Don Lilkinquist, 66, who has no fixed address.
"He's complaining about some pain in his arm, but there are no visible injuries," Etter said.
Hospital spokeswoman Lisa McDonald said privacy laws prohibit her from commenting on the nature of Lilkinquist's injuries or his condition.
Novak, who was cited for failing to yield a right of way, said in an interview that he was unaware at first that he had struck the pedestrian. After he had driven about a block from the scene, he said, he was flagged down by several witnesses, including a bicyclist who called D.C. police.
Novak, who was on his way to work when the incident occurred, said the bicyclist was "shouting at me that I couldn't just hit people and drive away. But I didn't know I'd hit him. I really didn't have any idea it happened until they flagged me down and told me."
Asked whether he believed Novak's account of not seeing the pedestrian, bicyclist David A. Bono said, "No, I would not believe that."
Bono, 47, a partner at Harkins Cunningham law firm, said: "I can tell you what I saw. I was on K Street on my bicycle, and what I saw was a guy get hit by a black Corvette convertible. I see the guy go up on the hood, up on the windshield." As the Corvette turned right from 18th Street onto the service road beside K, Bono said, "the guy rolled off the hood and landed on the street."
Bono said he passed Novak's car on his bike and came to a stop in front of the Corvette, which then also stopped.
Police said Novak was given the citation for failing to yield to a pedestrian but was not charged with leaving the scene of an accident.
A news camera from WJLA-TV (Channel 7) taped Novak as he emerged from the front seat of a D.C. police car with the ticket.
"I didn't know I hit him," Novak said as he walked back to his Corvette. "I feel terrible. . . . [But] he's not dead, that's the main thing."