Bob Novak Hit and Run Accident

Veteran journalist Bob Novak hit an elderly man with his Corvette this morning. Fortunately, the injuries were minor although the ensuing controversy is heating up quickly.

The Story:

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 he had 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 plows into the guy. The guy is sort of splayed into 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. “This car is speeding away. What’s going through my mind is, you just can’t hit a pedestrian and drive away,” Bono said.

The Video:


First, why was the top up on Novak’s Corvette?  Granted, it was in the 90s this morning in DC but it wasn’t raining and, surely, Novak’s car has air conditioning.  Why drive a convertible if you’re not going to drive with the top down whenever possible?   [Update: Commenter Michael is dubious of the “splayed” report given the lack of damage to Novak’s windshield and relative lack of injury to the 66-year-old pedestrian.   A fair point.]

Second — and this one seems to be drawing more interest — how do you have an old man splayed on your windshield and not notice?

Third, having driven down K Street quite a few times in the morning, I’m wondering how Novak managed to actually get up enough speed to cause a pedestrian injury.


As noted, at least judging around the buzz gathering at memeorandum, most bloggers are concentrating on questions other than the proper means of driving a convertible.  Perhaps they’re not convertible owners.

  • Karl@Protein Wisdom titles his post “Bob Novak yields to no one” and writes, “Seems like someone might want to get those eyes checked.  It is a sad story, not only for the victim (who was treated at George Washington University Hospital for minor injuries), but also for Novak, who — for all of his rep as the “Prince of Darkness” and quips about running over pedestrians — is said to be one of the few Beltway pundits who is popular and well-liked in DC newsrooms.”
  • Shaun Mullen says “times are tough” for Novak, noting, “It’s been quite a while since he outted a CIA operative, his McCain veep scoop this week turned out to be false and his old war-hero pal keeps acting tres unpresidential.”
  • Faiz Shakir finds this: “Politico notes that in a 2001 interview with the Washington Post, Novak said, “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.”
  • Jim Newell, meanwhile, finds it mighty convenient a Politico reporter happened to walk by.  He jokes, “Politico and Bob Novak thought that this was Ron Paul, this pedestrian, and they were trying to kill him for the second day in a row.”
  • Pam Spaulding: “Perhaps it’s time to take the keys away if The Compassionate Conservative Prince of Darkness couldn’t see the cyclist he just hit on the hood of his vehicle. “
  • Digby (also kidding): “I’m thinking the fact that he didn’t kill the guy, as Beelzebub commanded, was deeply embarrassing, and Novak wanted to ditch the whole assignment and wanted to get back to the business of destroying careers instead of lives.”

Update:  Unfortunately, it appears that our jocularity about this incident was premature.  ABC7 reports that the victim was more seriously injured than initially thought.

The victim, 66-year-old Don Lilkinquist, appeared somewhat incoherent, according to a source at the scene. Lilkinquist also appeared to have casts on his neck and back and was later X-rayed. The source said a surgical team planned to evaluate him.

In an exclusive interview with ABC 7 News, Novak, 77, said he felt “terrible” about striking a pedestrian Wednesday morning while on his way to work in downtown D.C.


D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman Alan Etter said the pedestrian complained of pain in his arm and was taken to George Washington University Hospital with what were described as minor injuries at the time.

Granted, the “source” is unidentified and the updated report could be mistaken. Certainly, though, serious injuries would make the incident decidedly less humorous.

Update:  The story keeps getting more bizarre.  It turns out that Don Clifford Liljenquist is actually 86, not 66, and he’s homeless. And quite possibly not all there:

“Bob Novak is the one that hit me?” said 86-year-old Don Clifford Liljenquist, sounding astonished when WMAL (630 AM) reporter Troy Russell told him that the driver was Novak. “Well, everybody knows who Bob Novak is! He’s a famous journalist! . . . I was struck by Bob Novak? . . . Well, I think that makes it a great story!”


“Yeah, it’s possible that he didn’t know he hit me,” Liljenquist said. “The vehicle was moving at 10 miles per hour or something like that, and the driver might not have seen me, because I rolled off and fell down to the pavement. So, yeah, it’s possible that he didn’t see me. He wasn’t paying attention to his driving.”


“I had the right of way,” he said. “But an automobile was approaching on K Street. He just kept going. . . . His bumper run under me. And I did a maneuver. I rolled across his . . .” He paused, until Russell finally said, “The hood of his car?” Liljenquist continued, “Across his [unintelligible] and then fell down to the pavement.”

Granting that 86-year-olds tend to be less agile than in their prime, one wonders how Liljenquist was able to see a car moving at him at a mere 10 mph, see what was happening in that much detail, and not manage to get out of the way or make his presence known.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Michael says:

    Since there was no mentioned damage to Novak’s windshield, and the fact that the victim had only minor injuries, I’m skeptical about the whole “splayed out” claim.

  2. yetanotherjohn says:

    How old is Wilson? 66? I’m just asking?

  3. James Joyner says:

    Wilson who?

  4. Michael says:

    Wilson who?

    Joe Wilson, I would assume.

  5. Jon Swift says:

    The man Novak hit donated money to the Obama campaign. I think running over supporters of the opposition is a poor campaign strategy and Karl Rove should be giving better advice.

  6. Steve Plunk says:

    As for the blogger commentary; blah, blah, blah, a lot of words but nothing of substance being said.

    As for Novak’s convertible driving habits, old men should not have Corvette convertibles. Sorry Bob but it’s true.

  7. Joe says:

    Hit and run accidents are serious, and these are the kinds of matters for which serious attorneys are needed. It’s difficult to gauger the mindset of the drivers in situations like this, as well as the exact circumstances surrounding the accident.

  8. Fence says:

    That part of K St. is the type of road that makes anyone but the mellowest of drivers want to kill people. You are slowed to a crawl because Fed Ex trucks block half the lanes and you can never turn because right on reds and lefts are illegal and right on greens impossible because of pedestrians. The only way to calm yourself down is to talk or type emails on your cell phone, which, in turn, is perhaps one way for someone to end up on your windshield without you noticing. It also makes the idea of a hit and run idiotic. Remember the facts here: his Corvette was chased down by a lawyer on a bicycle. How the heck did Novak think he could get away on a street that moves slower than molasses?

  9. Hal says:

    Update: Source: Novak’s Victim Worse Than First Thought

    The pedestrian who was struck by prominent Washington columnist and commentator Robert Novak is in worse shape than first thought, a hospital source tells ABC 7 News.

    The victim, a 66-year-old man, appeared somewhat incoherent, said the source who had seen the victim. The man appeared to have casts on his neck and back. The victim was X-rayed and a surgical team plans to evaluate him, the source said.

    Either the victim has got a great trial lawyer (I don’t know, maybe Beldar?) and has got Dr. Nick Riviera to doctor him up good, or the original reports of “slight” injuries were way off base.

    In any event, it lends credence to the witness’ description of Novakula’s H&R.

  10. Floyd says:

    1] What sort of lawyer on a bicycle could catch a “speeding” car??
    [Ambu-Lance Armstrong?]

    2]I doubt David’s middle name is “Pro”! and…

    3]It is nearly impossible to mistake a Corvette for an ambulance!