Tuesday, February 28, 2006

No More Accidents

NEWS: Yesterday in Philadelphia, a man was out teaching his daughter how to drive. His daughter was only 15 and therefore, did not have a permit. That's wrong! Why he chose to do this on an actual street and not in a vacant lot somewhere, I don't know. The girl lost control of the vehicle and ran over a woman carrying her baby. The woman threw the baby to safety. Unfortunately, the woman wasn't so lucky. She was struck and killed.

This is a VERY tragic story. My prayers for out to all involved.

That being said, it was an accident. The death of the woman will haunt this man and, especially, his daughter for the rest of their lives. The man was charged with manslaughter and received 3 years probation. Other than this incident, he was a model citizen.

The relatives of the deceased are up in arms over the verdict and want this guy to go to jail for 5 years. Are there no accidents anymore??? Should he have had his daughter behind the wheel at 15? No! If a year goes by and she has a piece of paper, does this situation not happen? Not necessarily. I can sympathize with the family in their wanting revenge, but any consideration of putting this guy behind bars is ludicrious.

Society today is so busy trying to pin blame on someone for every action that accidents are a thing of the past. Be it spilled coffee at McDonald's or the burglar that injures himself while robbing a house, every injury is deserving of jail time and, of course, $$$$$!!


At 6:39 PM, Blogger radio gnome said...

Seems if the man was charged on manslaughter and received a sentence (the sentence being probation rather than jail time is a slightly different issue I think), then someone, DA, judge, someone, considered this more than just an accident, and I'd have to agree (and therefore disagree with your last paragraph a little).

While it may have been an accident, seems it was a) easily avoidable and b) somewhat forseeable.

Manslaughter is a felony, right? That's pretty serious stuff and 3 years of probation isn't "nothing" as it could potentially be a pretty big "something" as is the felony record itself.

As for accidents in general, aren't most of your examples more civil cases than . . . um . . . whatever the other kind is? And aren't they at an extreme which perhaps isn't appropriate for comparison to the driving incident?

Don't be surprised if the family files a civil suit and is awarded damages. In this case, it would be hard for me to get too upset either way.

IMO, We've lost balance. When reasonable civil cases are derided simply because we are getting tired of the ludicrous extreme, well . . . that's not good either.

At 12:14 AM, Anonymous Rachel said...

To me, the fact that the daughter lost control of the car was an accident. The fact that the father let her drive is not.

On a side note, if none of this had happened and there was no death, what would his daughter have learned from him essentially telling her that the law (no driving without a permit) did not apply to her?

I agree that the US is too litigious. I agree that accidents do happen. I think that a personal responsibility in this country is nearly dead.

But I think that if I was at my sister's funeral looking at my niece or nephew who would never know her, I think I'd be asking for more punishment as well.

At 12:23 AM, Blogger The Anti-Hippie said...

Hands down, it's the father's fault. If he had, y'know, followed the law, this wouldn't have happened. However, the family shouldn't expect to be getting mucho dinero, because he's already getting punished, not to mention the social stigma he and his daughter will carry the rest of their lives.

At 12:38 PM, Blogger Wyatt Earp said...

Deathlok - The man had his daughter driving in the parking lot at Lincoln High. Allegedly, she stomped on the gas, and the car careened out of control, across the lot to the adjoining street - where the woman and the baby were standing.

Gnome - Manslaughter is the highest charge that can be issued in this case - I'm a Philly Detective. Murder won't fly here, since you can't prove intent. Manslaughter can also be a misdemenaor of the first degree, but that is rare. From what I know of the case, it is a politically charged event (obviously), and the D.A. here has a habit of trying to dole out the highest intended charge. IMO, manslaughter is appropriate, as is the sentence.

Rachel - The father let her drive too soon, but how many of us have learned to drive with a parent in the car? I was 16 when I did it.

AH - Not true. The kid lost control. Father used terrible judgment, but ultimately the kid is to blame. Hell, I've charged kids younger than this for worse crimes.

Ultimately, I think no one gets justice here. Suing these people civilly is (IMO) ridiculous if either party is convicted. As for the sentence, I would agree with it. I had a case the other day where a man who beat a woman with a baseball bat got time served. Hell, by that standard, the dad is getting the death penalty!

At 8:28 PM, Blogger radio gnome said...

thanks for clearing some of this up Wyatt. Question for you if you don't mind - I've never quite understood the difference between manslaughter and negligent homicide, as it would seem negligent homicide also has the lack of intent, but homicide is still murder, right?

At 10:52 PM, Anonymous rachel said...

I didn't pass a road test until I was 20, and it's safe to assume that's one of the reasons I'm still alive today.

Had I known they started in a parking lot, I would have commented differently.

It is a no-win (except maybe for the lawyers.) And really quite sad...

At 7:43 AM, Blogger Deathlok said...

Rachel - Agreed! Unfortunate, Sad and (agreeing with Wyatt) the punishment was fair.

The Moral of all this is, of course, "Women shouldn't be allowed to drive!"


At 8:19 PM, Blogger Wyatt Earp said...

Gnome - The difference is barely negligable (sp?). Philly doesn't have a charge of "Homicide." It is Murder (1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree) and Manslaughter (1,2,3). Murder almost always involves intent, whereas Manslaughter usually does not. Not enough hours in the day for me to make it more clear.

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