Jay Strohm was slammed by a car on an Arlington street two weeks ago, suffering a broken leg and four cracked ribs that make his body ache when he walks, stands and sits. His voice is raspy because of a punctured lung, and he is still coughing up blood.
But for Strohm, who works at the Department of Defense, one of the hardest things about the slow and painful recovery has been the constant replay of the crash in his head. Even at night, he dreams about it.
"My mind keeps going back to the accident," Strohm, 30, said at his District apartment building. "I can't concentrate. I can't stop thinking about it."
It will take months for his body to heal, and his doctors say he shouldn't play football or lift heavy weights again. But Strohm thinks that if police find the driver who struck him and then fled, it might help ease his mind, if only a little.
"It's the idea of getting them off the road," he said. "They didn't even check to see if I was dead or alive. I just want to make sure they don't do this again. People need to be protected."
Traffic accidents involving pedestrians have been a concern in the Washington area, where, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, more than 2,600 pedestrians or bicyclists are injured and about 90 killed each year.
Strohm was hit as he hopped out of a cab on North Quinn Street in Rosslyn about 2 a.m. Nov. 6 and was crossing the street to go to his girlfriend's apartment. Police believe that the vehicle's front bumper struck him first and that his body slid along the side of the car, eventually hitting the passenger-side mirror and knocking it off.
Police have little to go on as they search for the driver. They have no description of the man or woman behind the wheel or details about the license plate, said Arlington County police spokesman Matt Martin. But based on eyewitness accounts and the mirror, police believe that the car is a 1993 or 1994 two-door Honda Civic that is a reddish-purple color.
Martin said that the driver, unless he or she was intoxicated, must have known there was a collision. Strohm "hit the mirror with enough force to rip it off," Martin said. "There is no way a driver would not have known that. We're really hoping that someone who has that car is known by a friend or neighbor or co-worker."
Strohm had spent that Sunday evening watching football and eating barbecue with friends before heading to his girlfriend's. He got out of the cab and looked both ways but stayed in the street for a few moments, talking to the cabdriver and to his girlfriend on his cell phone. Then the cabdriver yelled to him.
"I was starting to walk across the street and I hear, 'Watch out!' " Strohm said. "I had zero reaction time. I heard 'Watch out!' and it was on me."
Strohm said he should have gotten out of the cab on the sidewalk side, not the street. And he'll never chat on the phone again as he crosses a road. Martin said the car that hit Strohm was speeding.
"We all speed, and we've all done dumb stuff," Strohm said. "But at least stop and take responsibility for what you did."
In his work with the Department of Defense, Strohm has traveled to East Timor in Indonesia and to Guatemala. He was supposed to go to Iraq. Now, because his spleen was seriously damaged in the crash, it isn't clear whether his body can handle the inoculations he would need for some international travel.
For now, though, it is enough to focus on the tasks of daily life. Late last week, Strohm walked across the street to pick up laundry, an exhausting job.
"It's driving me crazy. I'm a very independent person," Strohm said. "I have no problem getting off a plane in a war-torn country -- I hit the ground running. Now I'm afraid to cross the street."
Arlington police ask anyone with information to call 866-411-8477. Crime Solvers is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest.