Noe Valley Voice June 2004

Cop Crash: Local Cop Injured

By Erin O'Briant

Officer Lorraine Lombardo isn't just a cop. To residents and business owners in Noe Valley, she's a friendly fixture--the uniform-clad woman patrolling the neighborhood on her police-issue mountain bike. It will be a while, though, before Lombardo resumes her duties on 24th Street.

In the early evening of April 27, four days after she turned 51, Lombardo was hurt in the line of duty. As a result, she is on disability leave indefinitely. But, she says, "I will be back!"

It was about 6:30 p.m. when Lombardo, on her way back to Noe Valley from a police meeting in the Castro District, witnessed a male driver in a red Toyota truck run a red light just as she was about to ride her bike across the intersection at Church and 15th streets. The man nearly caused a three-car accident, Lombardo says.

"Fortunately, I stopped and didn't get run over, but the other two cars were already in the intersection, and they slammed on their brakes and started blowing their horns at him," says Lombardo.

Though she was dressed in full uniform (and bike helmet), the man in the red truck "looked right at me and kept going," Lombardo says.

Pedaling fast, she followed the driver northbound on Church Street toward Market. That's when she fell the first time. "Suddenly, my front tire was grabbed by one of those Muni rail tracks," she says. "I lost control of the bike and did a beautiful swan dive." Lombardo came out of the fall with no injuries, and managed to get back on her bike.

"Then I looked up and saw him stuck in traffic," she continues. She could tell the Toyota driver was watching her in his rear-view mirror. "I thought, 'Now I'm going to get you.'"

But she never did. "I came out of one track and slid into the other and went bang." Lombardo's bike crashed and she landed first on her shoulder. Then her head hit the train tracks. A man walking nearby helped her up and suggested she needed an ambulance.

Over the next few days, doctors discovered a number of injuries, including a brain bruise, whiplash, and a rotator-cuff injury to her shoulder. She also has a muscle tear that's causing a separation between her collarbone and shoulder bone.

Needless to say, it's painful. "Mostly what I need is time and [physical] therapy," she says. Lombardo hopes she won't also need surgery.

Lombardo can't say how long she'll be out of work. But she feels certain she'll be back eventually--perhaps as soon as September. "I will not forget what that guy looked like, and I'll be stronger than ever," she vows. "I miss all my Noe Valley family and my police family and can't wait to get strong and well."

In the meantime, Mission Station has assigned Officer Andrew MacIlrath to the 24th Street beat. MacIlrath says flag him down if you need assistance. "I'll be the geeky guy in a police uniform on a bike."