Syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak was cited by police after he hit a pedestrian with his black Corvette in downtown Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning.
A Politico reporter saw Novak in the front of a police car with a citation in his hand; a WJLA-TV crew and reporter saw Novak as well. The pedestrian, a 66-year-old man who was not further identified by authorities, was treated at George Washington University Hospital for minor injuries, according to D.C. Fire and EMS. Novak was later released by police and drove away from the scene.
"I didn't know I hit him. I feel terrible," a shaken Novak told reporters from Politico and WJLA as he was returning to his car. "He's not dead, that's the main thing." Novak said he was a block away from 18th and K streets Northwest, where the accident occurred, when a bicyclist stopped him and said, "You hit someone." He said he was cited for failing to yield the right of way.
The bicyclist was David Bono, a partner at Harkins Cunningham, who was on his usual bike commute to work at 1700 K St. N.W. when he witnessed the accident.
As he traveled east on K Street, crossing 18th, Bono said a "black Corvette convertible with top closed plowed into the guy. The guy is sort of splayed onto the windshield."
Bono said that the pedestrian, who was crossing the street on a "Walk" signal and was in the crosswalk, rolled off the windshield and that Novak then made a right into the service lane of K Street. "The car is speeding away. What's going through my mind is, you just can't hit a pedestrian and drive away," Bono said.
He said he chased Novak half a block down K Street., finally caught up with him and then put his bike in front of the car to block it and called 911. Traffic immediately backed up, horns blared and commuters finally went into reverse to allow Novak to pull over.
Bono said that throughout, Novak "keeps trying to get away. He keeps trying to go." He said he vaguely recognized the longtime political reporter and columnist as a Washington celebrity but could not precisely place him.
Finally, Bono said, Novak put his head out the window of his car and motioned him over. Bono said he told him that you can't hit a pedestrian and just drive away. He quoted Novak as responding: "I didn't see him there."
A concierge at 1700 K Street said that she saw a bicyclist yelling and walked outside to see what the commotion was about.
"This guy hit somebody and he won't stop so I'm going to stay here until the police come," Aleta Petty quoted Bono as saying, as he stood in K Street, blocking traffic.
D.C. police confirmed that there was an accident at 18th and K streets NW at approximately 10 a.m. involving a black Corvette convertible and that the driver was a white male.
The intersection is in the hub of Washington's business district and is filled with pedestrians who work in the law firms and lobby shops that line the corridor.
Novak, 77, has earned a reputation around the capital as an aggressive driver, easily identified in his convertible sports car.
In 2001, he cursed at a pedestrian on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 13th streets Northwest for allegedly jaywalking.
Click here to see the Politico story and to watch video of Novak answering questions about the incident.
"'Learn to read the signs, [bodily orifice]!' Novak snapped before speeding away," according to an item in The Washington Post's Reliable Source column.
Novak explained to the paper: "He was crossing on the red light. I really hate jaywalkers. I despise them. Since I don't run the country, all I can do is yell at 'em. The other option is to run 'em over, but as a compassionate conservative, I would never do that."
Two years later, the same column reported that Novak had gone to a racing school in Florida.
"I've wanted to be a racecar driver all my life, and anyone who has watched me drive can tell you that," Novak said.
Anne Schroeder Mullins and Adrienne Smutko contributed to this story.
By Jonathan Martin and Chris Frates