Monday, June 04, 2007

Speed Kills

There was a horrible traffic accident on I-40 in a county that borders ours. It happened several months ago and killed a 2 year-old girl and injured her mother, sister and grand-mother seriously. They were not at fault.

The driver of the guilty vehicle has said that he never saw the other car before the wreck. He was not seriously injured, nor was he arrested at the scene.

Last week he went before a grand jury and was charged with reckless driving and accidental death by motor vehicle – both MISDEMEANOR offenses. The penalties for these crimes consist of fines, probation or community service! .

How can this happen in a criminal justice system that is supposedly fair and impartial?

It can happen because the driver was a cop – a county Sheriff’s Deputy. He was on his way to assist another officer, attempting to enforce a misdemeanor infraction.

The minimal charges could be understood if all the circumstances involved in the accident were in the Deputy’s favor - if the other car didn’t hear his siren or see his flashing blue lights and pulled out in front of him; if his full attention had been devoted to the task at hand – driving his patrol car; or if he had been traveling at a speed reasonable for the weather conditions.

But the circumstances were not on his side. The other vehicle was traveling at the speed limit in the right-hand lane. The Deputy chose, for some reason, not to use his flashing lights or siren and was supposedly searching for his destination in an Atlas at the time of the wreck. Plus he was traveling at nearly twice the posted speed limit when it was not only dark but also foggy.

He was placed on a job that does not require driving after the accident. He was suspended without pay after the grand jury. Anyone else would have been arrested at the scene and charged with second-degree manslaughter.

The justice system is indeed blind, but it does peek out briefly to see if the offender is a cop.