Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hit and Runs: the Heinousness Continues

Across the nation – and world – the crime of hit-and-run continues to happen. I’ve often read comments after these crimes where someone will say, “These are getting so common in [whatever area]." But it appears they really are fairly common all over. Here’s a sample of headlines and my synopsis of stories from the past week:

Cops investigate Great Neck hit and run that injured twin sisters

54 year old sisters, unnamed, on a walk at 6:20 p.m.were struck from behind, resulting in one with non-life-threatening injuries, the other in critical condition with head trauma and internal injuries. The driver is still at large and no info about the vehicle was provided. 

Hartford official hurt in hit-and-run crash

Terry Waller and Saundra Kee Borges suffered non-life-threatening injuries after being struck in their vehicle by a driver running a red-light around 11:30 p.m. The driver was apprehended shortly after and charged with evading responsibility and failure to obey a traffic signal. His stated reason for running? He had to go to the bathroom.

Hit-and-run mystery death in Atherton

Jeffry Zeman, 60: found dead in the middle of a street around 5:30 a.m. Evidence showed that he “had been dragged some distance by a vehicle” and “could have been hit several hours before he was found.” No evidence was found. The driver is still free. 

Trans Woman Killed in Hollywood Hit-and-Run

Unique McKenzie, 22: killed around 2:30 a.m. after slipping off a sidewalk into the road and being struck by a car. The police have video of the collision and have released video of the car to the public. The article referenced there being over 14,000 hit-and-runs in L.A. in 2013 so far.

Police make arrest in deadly hit and run

Victor Haskell, 53: killed around 12:15 a.m. while riding his bike home from work. He was discovered 8 hours later. Vehicle information given to the public resulted in Gavin Haley, 31, turning himself in at the same time police arrived at his door. In Idaho, hit and run involving injury is a felony with up to five years in prison, a $5000 fine, and one year license revocation. 

Detroit man charged with hit-and-run that killed 8-year-old boy
Darrin Wilhite, no dreams lived

Darrin Wilhite, 8: struck and killed by an allegedly speeding driver. Darrin and his bike were dragged “for blocks.” Alfonso Butler, 47, turned himself in the next day and is charged with leaving the scene of an injury accident causing death, with a maximum sentence of 5 years.


Man charged over hit-and-run death of policeman

Andrew Duncan, 47: a London police officer killed attempting to stop a speeding driver. 25 year old Gary Bromige has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving, failing to stop at the scene of an accident, failing to report an accident, and driving without insurance. Two other men, 19 and 23, unnamed, were also charged with causing death by dangerous driving and failing to stop at the scene of an accident. 

Police look for Malibu after hit-and-run
Michael Robertson

Michael Robertson, 59: died on an Indianapolis sidewalk because disputing co-workers were driving side by side with occupants of one vehicle attempting to hit the other vehicle with a baseball bat when the driver of the bat-wielding vehicle hit Robertson instead. The driver, Nikia Acuff, sought legal counsel before turning herself in. A passenger, Felicia Moss, was also arrested. No information has been provided on charges. 

Ghostbike at the scene of double fatality

Second cyclist dies after Chapel Hill hit and run

Ivin Scurlock, 41, and Alexandra Simou, 40: struck from behind while riding their bikes along a highway in North Carolina around 11:20 p.m. Scurlock died at the scene and Simou died a couple days later. The driver is still at large. There was no vehicle information.

So here, in a one-week span, with me just searching "hit and run," we have nine collisions that resulted in four injuries - one of them life-threatening - and eight fatalities. The ages of the victims ranged from 8 to 60. One of the fatalities stemmed from a woman actually falling into the road in front of a vehicle that "could not stop" according to reports, so possibly no crime could have been determined until the driver then didn't stop. What is notable is that of the nine collisions, only one involved vehicle-on-vehicle impact. People walking and riding bikes are disproportionately in a higher percentage of hit and runs than people in automobiles, presumably because there is much less damage from striking a person than a multi-ton vehicle, so it is much easier to drive away. 

All my research of hit and runs lead me to believe that people do not leave the scene because they "didn't know" they hit anyone or they were "afraid." They leave because they either are doing something illegal right then (drinking, driving while suspended, using a cell phone, driving recklessly) or have done something in the past which will result in increased penalties (history of reckless driving or DUII, are on probation or parole for a previous crime, etc). 

Hit and run is a heinous crime committed usually by people we would never suspect would be so uncaring. These people generally are our family members, co-workers, friends, or neighbors whose illegal behavior isn't apparent or of concern until they hurt someone else and then leave the victim(s) dead, dying, or injured while they head off to cover their own hides, hopefully (for them) forever.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Be Careful What You Wish For: Not Just Words to Me Anymore

Wow. The developments this week have really taken me by surprise. Welcome surprise, but still stressful. Here are some links to what I'm talking about:

KOIN News broadcast of 9/25/13:

BikePortland article of 9/25/13:

And from a few weeks ago:

BikePortland again (I love BikePortland!):

KPTV News broadcast of 8/23/13:

I thought I had just been coasting along, going relatively unnoticed (I even took August off, to focus on mourning Dustin), but apparently things were percolating behind the scenes. This is what I've wanted, truly, it's just scary. I'm just a mom who can't stand to let the death of my son go, who doesn't want the pain my family feels to be echoed in the hearts of other families. And most of all, who doesn't want Dustin to be forgotten.

My Wednesday was planned out ahead of time: Work till 12:30, attend the unveiling ceremony of the Memorial Wall for Murder Victims in Oregon City at 1:00, and attend the National Remembrance Day for Victims of Murder and Vehicular Homicide in Woodland at 6:30.

I worked, as planned. I attended the unveiling as planned. Not planned was approaching guest speaker and award-winning victim advocate Steve Doell and saying, "What more can I do?" His response was that our meeting must have been "providence" because he's been looking for people to testify before the legislature about proposed changes in sentences, including hit-and-run and vehicular homicide. So I was pretty stoked about that... even though Steve is apparently a controversial person whose politics I may not totally agree with.

At home I saw an email from the woman who set up the Faces of Fatalities website, saying I had gotten a message from a KOIN News reporter. She gave him my numbe and he had sent me a text asking for an interview. I scheduled that with him and hurriedly called Mary Cooley, mother of hit-and-run victim Mike Cooley, whom I had met just the week before at a benefit to help raise money for needed home renovations (to accommodate his wheelchair, since he is now paralyzed). She dropped everything and we were able to do the interview together, which generated renewed publicity for Mike's case, which has not been solved. This type of collaboration and pooling of voices is exactly what I've been hoping for over the past two years.

Once I was home again, I spent quite some time answering an email to Jonathan Maus of BikePortland, who had written a few days prior that he had just become aware of my website and would like to do an article. It wasn't until this morning that I learned he had already posted the article yesterday. And quite the article, too, as you can see from the link above. Then I went to my own website which I had done virtually nothing with because I thought no one was paying attention anyway and there was a request from KPAM for an interview and in my email there was a request from KATU! Not only that, there were comments from a few people who don't even live around here,one referencing a hit-and-run in Chico, CA, another commenting about ghostbikes.

I hope I have it within me to do what needs to be done now. My husband thinks I do. (Thanks, honey! You are terrific support)!