You Can Drive Over a Child, But Don’t Drive Away After

The Daily News today has the story of a 10-year-old Suffolk County cyclist who was mangled by a hit-and-run driver on Monday, the first day of the boy’s summer vacation. Hit while riding with a friend, the unidentified kid had both his legs broken. But according to police, the driver’s only offense was what he did after the crash.

[T]he van’s driver stopped briefly to watch the boy
writhe in pain on the road before driving off, police said Tuesday. The
strange thing is, that up to that point, he hadn’t done anything wrong,
as far as police know.

"I can’t imagine that he didn’t know that he had hit someone," Detective Sgt. William Rand said.

Until the van’s driver left the scene, the mishap did not appear to have involved any illegal act on the part of the van driver. "He should have stopped," Rand said. "This really would have been considered an accident."

So until he drove away from the scene, all the driver had done was run over and maim a child. It was a mishap. An accident.

Really, happens all the time.

  • I’m glad you made a full story item out of this. I read it this morning and was totally disgusted.

    Will the realization by more and more people that driving is moronically unsustainable change demographics enough so that the attitudes towards incidents like this by the public, police, and media finally change?

    Until those attitudes change, dear grieving families: “whoopsies!!” ;-P !

  • brent

    Another fine example of a completely sick society. I mean WOW these cops are ignorant.

  • LN

    Here’s another child hit in the Bronx recently, he passed away on June 23rd.

    http://www.yournabe.com/articles/2008/06/20/bronx/doc485be764169b6399685025.txt

  • anonymouse

    Note, by the way, that if you crash your car into another car and kill someone, that’s manslaughter, but if you hit a pedestrian or a cyclist, that’s an accident. Truly sick.

  • David

    Hypothetically, what crime(s) do you all think this guy should have been charged with if he got out of his car and stayed at the scene of the collision?

  • brent

    David- the crime is RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT: A person commits the crime of reckless endangerment if the person recklessly engages in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person. “Reckless” conduct is conduct that exhibits a culpable disregard of foreseeable consequences to others from the act or omission involved. The accused need not intentionally cause a resulting harm or know that his conduct is substantially certain to cause that result. The ultimate question is whether, under all the circumstances, the accused’s conduct was of that heedless nature that made it actually or imminently dangerous to the rights or safety of others.
    Endangerment can range from a misdemeanor to a felony.
    -wikipedia

  • David, the intent of the individual driver is secondary to the overall impact of a transportation system dominated by private vehicles driven by non-professional drivers. Conventional wisdom has it that car killings and car maimings are collateral damage, regrettable but acceptable side effects of the supposedly greater good of cars and driving. What the story above suggests that that these killings and maimings are not acceptable and that, rather than continue them, we should phase out private vehicles and their carnage in favor of conveyances that are less brutal, less bloody, less sociopathic.

  • David

    I agree, Mark, injuries and deaths from cars are completely acceptable. That’s why I’m reading this blog. The blog post however refers with considerable incredulity to the Daily News saying that nothing illegal was done prior to leaving the scene. I was looking for clarification on the legal issues here, not the moral ones.

    Brent,

    Reckless endangerment seems to be a crime that does not require you to actually harm or kill someone, just put them in danger of being harmed or killed. I am curious how often drivers who drive recklessly get convicted of this crime, and what standard of reckless the law requires for a conviction.

    Would there realistically be a case against this hypothetical driver, or would he get off scot-free had he stayed with the child? It just seems like the Daily News is being realistic about the criminal ramifications of what the driver had done.

  • David

    That should say completely UNacceptable.

  • David, the answer is that you’re a smart guy, but the law is an ass.

  • David, no the Daily News didn’t say nothing “illegal” was done prior to leaving, they said nothing “wrong” was done. Big difference! And the really trippy part is where the cops suggest the crash became a non “accident” after it took place. (Temporal anomaly?) I don’t subscribe to cops’ or streetsblog’s or anybody else’s overloading of the word accident: unless there was an immediate intent to crash, a car crash is also an accident. But accident is an imprecise euphemism that is best avoided to fully acknowledge the death and destruction inherent to popular automobile use. (Obviously!)

  • Peter Jacobsen

    In general, the way newspapers cover a traffic injury appalls. Typically, the incident is written in passive voice (e.g. toddler is fatally hit), the victim is blamed and the car is discussed and not the driver. The word ‘accident’ excuses the perpetrator, diminishes the concerns of the victim’s family, and perpetuates the myth of inevitability.

    How about a contest for the most egregious use of the word accident?

    Here’s my nomination: In a LA Times story July 1st, a drunk driver speeds away after an earlier hit-and-run collision. He loses control of his SUV and runs over a family on the sidewalk. He leaves the scene of this collision too. He kills the two-year-old girl. Her parents and her brother are all hospitalized with broken bones. Her father remains in serious condition. The police charge the driver with murder.

    Yet the LA Times terms it an accident.
    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/traffic/la-me-rialto1-2008jul01,0,2668725.story

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