WASHINGTON – A homeless man says he was surprised to learn that syndicated columnist Robert Novak was the driver who hit him with a car, injuring his shoulder.
"Bob Novak is the one that hit me?" said 86-year-old Don Clifford Liljenquist, sounding shocked when a WMAL radio reporter told him of the news Thursday. "Well, everybody knows who Bob Novak is. He's a famous journalist! He's the one that hit me? ... Well, I think that makes it a great story!"
In a telephone interview from his hospital bed, Liljenquist said his shoulder was dislocated when he was struck Wednesday. Doctors reset it and he's "doing fine," Liljenquist said.
"I'm a pretty tough guy, you know. And when I saw I was being hit, I rolled with the punch," Liljenquist said. "I used my training in judo to roll with the punch."
Witnesses said Novak was driving a black Chevrolet Corvette near K Street when he hit a pedestrian who rolled up onto the hood of the car. Novak kept driving until a bicyclist stopped him a short distance from the scene.
David Bono, the bicyclist who witnessed the incident while on his way to his law office, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Liljenquist was hit in a crosswalk and was splayed across Novak's windshield.
Novak has said he didn't know he hit anyone and was given a $50 traffic citation.
Liljenquist, who lives at a homeless shelter, said it's possible Novak didn't know because he rolled off the car and fell to the pavement.
"I've known Bob Novak for a long time, and he's a very good reporter," Liljenquist said with a laugh. "But as a driver, he wasn't paying attention."