Dude, where’s my car?

Student forgets to use parking brake; car rolls over foot and hits two other cars.


Senior Reagan Palombo at the hospital recovering from the accident.

In a span of five minutes, the unthinkable occurred. One moment, senior Reagan Palombo was arriving to school like how she would on a normal day, and the next, Palombo was left with an injured foot and multiple damaged cars. 

Palombo had pulled into the Northwest parking lot on Sept. 12 and was in the middle of taking her bag out of her car. However, this day was different as she had not put her car in park like she believed.

“I obviously thought I had put it in park,” Palombo said. “I got out and opened my back door to get my bookbag out.”

As a result of the parking lot being on an incline, Palombo’s car began slowly rolling and then rapidly gained speed. 

“I didn’t even notice that the car started rolling,” Palombo said. “I realized once it started going over my foot.”

Palombo attempted to run after her car in order to put it in park, but she couldn’t as a result of her foot being lodged under a tire. In the moment, Palombo says she was full of adrenaline and she didn’t even feel the injury entirely. All she was focused on was getting one of her friends to put her car in park when they reached her to make sure that she was fine.

English teacher Alex Wertz heard the noise of the cars hitting each other and immediately rushed over to figure out what was happening.

“I saw the Toyota SUV hitting the Volkswagen and then pushing it into the Hyundai,” Wertz said. “At first, I thought there was a student driving the Toyota because it had picked up a lot of speed going down the hill.”

Wertz called for EMS Services and the police when students told him that Palombo had been injured. When the EMS Services arrived 20 minutes later, Palombo’s adrenaline had reduced significantly.

“Once the EMS started pressing my foot and touching on it, that’s when it really started to hurt,” Palombo said.

Palombo’s parents were called in order to decide whether she was going to ride in the ambulance or not.

“I called both of my parents twice and they didn’t answer,” Palombo said. “My mom was in line at Starbucks.” 

Palombo’s mom answered when the EMS worker called and decided to pick Palombo up because the ambulance was going to cost around $4,000. 

Palombo’s dad showed up first and spent around three hours taking care of the other cars that were hit.

Palombo says her parents were a little upset that they needed to pay for the other two cars, but they were overall just relieved that Palombo was not seriously injured.

“My mom made sure I was okay when she walked up to me,” Palombo said. “She was like, ‘I’m giving my daughter a hug before I talk to any of you guys.’”

Although Palombo was not seriously injured, she did have to miss out on participating in Powderpuff.

“I’m just glad I didn’t shatter my foot,” Palombo said. “I crushed my ligaments and messed them up.”

If the car had rolled over her foot anywhere other than the middle, Palombo would not be able to play sports for months because it would have broken her foot. 

“Now I know to always put my emergency brake on whether I’m on a hill or not,” Palombo said. “I’ll never do it again.”