Update on Case of Mom Charged with Homicide After her Son Ran Into the Street

Hi Readers! Remember the horrifying 2011 case of a mom convicted of vehicular homicide after her son ran into the street and was hit by a drunk driver? (Who was NOT charged with homicide?)  She was facing a possible three years’ jail time. As I wrote at the time:

In brief: An Atlanta mom and her three kids got off a bus stop that is across a busy highway from her home. She COULD have dragged everyone to the next light,  three tenths of a mile up the road, but it seemed to make sense to try to cross. Not only was her apartment in sight across the way, but the other passengers who disembarked were crossing the highway right there, too. So she and her kids made it to the median, but then the 4-year-old squirmed away and got killed by a drunk driver. The driver was convicted of a hit and run.  The mom was convicted of vehicular manslaughter. Yep. But as [Transportation for America’s David] Goldberg says:

What about the highway designers, traffic engineers, transit planners and land use regulators who allowed a bus stop to be placed so far from a signal and made no other provision for a safe crossing; who allowed – even encouraged, with wide, straight lanes – prevailing speeds of 50-plus on a road flanked by houses and apartments; who carved a fifth lane out of a wider median that could have provided more of a safe refuge for pedestrians; who designed the entire landscape to be hostile to people trying to get to work and groceries despite having no access to a car? They are as innocent as the day is long, according to the solicitor general’s office.

Now the story has a new ending. The judge offered the mom a second trial (not sure how that works) and this time, she was allowed to plead guilty only to jaywalking, with a $200 fine. And there is even some hope that this heart wrenching example is leading Georgia to take note of the need for safe road-crossings at bus stops.

Let’s hope it also leads folks to stop automatically blaming parents when a child tragedy occurs.  Said in 2011 and I’ll say it again:

When we prosecute parents who are trying their hardest, who make mistakes, or who misjudge a situation, we are prosecuting them for being what parents have always been: human. Not superheroes with super strength, judgment, fortitude and foresight.

A human parent is what I am and what we all are. Let’s not make that a crime. — Lenore

61 Responses to Update on Case of Mom Charged with Homicide After her Son Ran Into the Street

  1. Heidi June 17, 2013 at 3:23 am #

    Where can I send my $200 to pay this poor, grieving woman’s ticket?

  2. Ben June 17, 2013 at 6:08 am #

    Glad to see the drunk driver still got his dues. It’s a shame the mom was still given a fine, but at least it was in line with the fact she (and several others) were actually jaywalking. Let’s hope the city will now consider improving the safety for pedestrians and cyclists — and not just drivers.

  3. Deb June 17, 2013 at 7:49 am #

    “Let’s hope it also leads folks to stop automatically blaming parents when a child tragedy occurs.”

    We have a fresh, new tragedy that just happened down the road from me. A 2 year old girl drowned in a swollen creek near a park. She was with her family. I was saddened by all of the blame placed on her heartbroken family. My daughter was just on vacation and driving along saw a toddler alone walking along a beach. They pulled over, and she went to him, and he was truly alone. There was a parking lot nearby so she went to the parking attendant and pointed out that the boy was alone. Nobody knew who or where his parents could possibly be. Ten minutes went by before a frantic mother showed up in search of her son. It was an “I thought he was with you” situation. Dad thought he was with Mom, and visa-versa. Child was returned, no police called, parents greatly relieved. Life went on. I bet these situations happen far more frequently than we ever hear – but when tragedy strikes, all of a sudden THAT parent is attacked and labeled. Such a shame, as if it isn’t enough, the grief they carry.

  4. Layne June 17, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that the drive was not charged.

  5. Beth June 17, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    Funny, late last week, I was re-reading the comments on Lenore’s original post on this topic. (It was when Dolly was at her most ridiculous.) Glad to see that somehow decency prevailed.

  6. pentamom June 17, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    The driver WAS convicted of a hit and run. If he did a hit and run, he was probably not able to be tested for DUI in a timely fashion, so he couldn’t have been charged for that. Without the DUI evidence, it just looks like a little kid ran out in front of car against traffic, and in cases like that, the driver isn’t held responsible. There was no way they could have gotten a conviction on any kind of fault charge without DUI evidence, so they didn’t bother to charge, because you don’t press charges that you can’t take into court.

  7. lollipoplover June 17, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    What “vehicle* was she operating to be charged with vehicular homicide? Wonderwoman’s invisible jet?

    Bad judgement can lead to accidents…so can good judgement. EVERY bad accident that happened to my kids happened directly in front of me. I wish I could rewind the tape for those and stop my 3 yo son from helping cut (kid “safety” scissors) his 2 yo sister’s tags out of her shirt because she was itchy, only to miss and have blood spew out of her chubby finger. ER visits with screaming toddlers are something I wish I could avoid but they happen every day. 99.9% of the time they have happy endings. We should give sympathy to accident victims and their families, not put them through further punishment by trying to rationalize the irrational. And this was a HIT and RUN, the most heinious type of crime- he hit a child and drove off. Why the focus ever fell on this poor mother and not the driver is insane.

  8. Papilio June 17, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    “I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that the drive was not charged.”

    This, and also

    “who designed the entire landscape to be hostile to people trying to get to work and groceries despite having no access to a car?”

    All of those highway designers, traffic engineers, transit planners and land use regulators KNEW bus stops mean nearby pedestrians; they KNEW there were houses and apartments on the other side of the road; they KNEW the traffic was going 50+ mph, they KNEW there were 5 lanes – and noone thought there should be a safe way to cross the road there? Whom was that bus stop meant for – the birds??

  9. pentamom June 17, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    OT speaking of Dolly — did she just fade away, or was there some big final fiasco? I remember a while back I suddenly noticed she was gone (after having threatened to leave several times previously but not doing so), but I don’t always read every post with its comments so I might have missed something. I’ve always wondered about that.

  10. Michelle June 17, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    I agree with commenters on the previous posting who pointed out that the child could have just as easily gotten away and been hit by a car while walking alongside the highway or crossing at the crosswalk. Every time I walk up to the grocery store, as I walk along the side of a busy four lane street with no sidewalk, I realize there’d be nothing I could do if a car swerved off the road and came at me. And my fifteen year old daughter was hit by a car while crossing at the crosswalk, apparently someone didn’t want to wait to turn right on red. And while she was picking herself up off the road (luckily uninjured), no one stopped to see if she was ok. They honked at her to get out of the way because the light was about to turn green.

  11. C. S. P. Schofield June 17, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    What I would like to hear is that the prosecutor who decided to charge the mother with that heartless charge was tarred, feathered, and chased out of town by outraged citizens wielding clubs and pitchforks.

    Won’t happen, but THAT would be justice.

  12. Hels June 17, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    While I agree that the road should have been planned better with the bus stop near the traffic light (or the traffic light near the bus stop, whichever makes more sense for that particular part of the road). Still, it does not make it right for pedestrians to cross obviously dangerous roads just because they can’t get their fat ass another few hundred feet to the safe crossing spot. I drive in an area with a lot of pedestrians, and I see a lot of people drag their kids across on a red light, or just a few feet away from the traffic light right into oncoming traffic without even bothering to look whether anyone is coming. That certainly doesn’t make me sympathetic towards them if any of them does get hit – they would fully deserve that, and I would only pity the driver who will be stuck with the memories and the fine and the cost of car repair. Call me heartless and callous, but there are plenty of Darwin’s award candidates out there on the streets.

  13. Cheryl Beuning June 17, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    Bus stops are “generally” selected AFTER the highway is designed and built. Talk to the bus depot about changing the location of the bus stop. PLEASE, take it up to the corner!!

    3/10ths of a mile is 1,534 feet (not a few hundred) double that as her apt is across the street and you have 3,000 feet with 3 kids. If one of them is going to bolt, its even more likely would have bolted walking 3,000 ft up to the crosswalk and back (not adding in the distance across the highway as that is present in both scenarios). Also, being at an intersection does not make it “safe” – there are not concrete barricades protecting the crosswalk from vehicles. just a light that folks ignore on a regular basis.

    Hit-and-run is the act of causing (or contributing to) a traffic accident (such as colliding with a person or a fixture), and failing to stop and identify oneself afterwards.

    Vehicular manslaughter is generally killing a person with a vehicle.

    From the information presented, sounds like the “DRIVER” was guilty of BOTH of these charges and got off with just the Hit and Run. Drunk driving would be a third and separate charge.

    My feet are firmly planted on the soil of – each person is responsible for their own actions. My life experiences make me jump to the following conclusions:
    I doubt this was the first time the family & this child had crossed that highway.
    I am fairly certain that the mother had coached all three children about checking both ways and not running out in the street.
    AND I am equally confident that this was not the FIRST time that driver got behind the wheel while impaired.

  14. Donna June 17, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    Glad that this case had a happy ending.

    @ Pentamom – Dolly just floated away as best I remember. I don’t remember a prompt. I just remember noticing that she wasn’t around anymore. I think she just decided to go troll elsewhere.

    @Hels – Where does it say that this was an obviously dangerous road? Or even dangerous at all? Or that she failed to look before she crossed? Or that she crossed unsafely? Or that she has a fat ass?

    She did cross the street with 3 kids and groceries. The boy darted awy from her – something that just as easily could have happened in a crosswalk resulting in him being hit. And he was hit by an alleged DRUNK DRIVER so who knows how erratic and fast he was driving to make a road that is usually very safe to cross at that point suddenly unsafe.

    I agree that there are many stupid people crossing streets. I’ve seen no evidence whatsoever that this woman was one.

  15. pentamom June 17, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    “Vehicular manslaughter is generally killing a person with a vehicle. ”

    Vehicular manslaughter is killing a person with a vehicle as a result of doing something wrong. If a kid runs out into the street in front of moving traffic, you need a reason why it was the driver who did something wrong, rather than the inevitable result of a kid running in front of a car. If you can’t show that he was DUI, how can you show he did anything wrong? You would need cameras or witnesses, but in the absence of cameras or reliable witnesses, you have nothing.

    Maybe there were reliable witnesses and the DA dropped the ball, or maybe there weren’t. Or, maybe, he actually didn’t do anything wrong! It’s not necessarily the case that he could have successfully been charged with anything, so it’s not necessarily the case that he “should have been.”

  16. Uly June 17, 2013 at 10:53 am #

    I remember this case. After reading comments about jaywalking I eventually looked up Georgia’s traffic code and found out that jaywalking isn’t a legal term in Georgia. Moreover, it is legal to cross in the middle of the street so long as you are not between two traffic lights, and it is always legal to cross at an intersection, even if it is unmarked, so long as you aren’t bolting directly in front of a moving vehicle.

    As I recall, judging from pictures of what had happened, it wasn’t even entirely clear to me if she had violated Georgia law in crossing where she did.

    At any rate, only a heartless bastard would ask a woman with children to lug groceries an extra mile home at the end of the day.

  17. Uly June 17, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    And he darted away from her, Donna, when she was waiting at the median – a perfectly legal and generally safe place to wait while crossing a multi-lane street.

  18. Donna June 17, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    Even if they could prove DUI, they can’t necessarily prove vehicular homicide. Being over the legal limit makes you per se guilty of DUI, it doesn’t automatically make you guilty of vehicular homicide when a kid runs out in front of your car. Sure there could be specific facts which make this vehicular homicide – some driving action, likely resulting from being drunk, that caused the boy to be struck when he otherwise wouldn’t have been even after darting into the road the way he did. We don’t know that such facts existed.

    I had a friend many years ago who rear-ended a drunk driver. While the drunk was charged with DUI, my friend was still considered at fault in the accident because he caused the accident. The drunk was driving fine; he just had the misfortune of being hit by my friend. My friend was incensed and thought the mere fact that the other driver was over the legal limit should negate his failing to pay attention, but the law doesn’t work that way.

  19. Warren June 17, 2013 at 11:11 am #

    This judge showed incredible common sense with this judgement.

    The judge can now say that this was an unfortunate incident, that resulted in this child’s death. The mother was not neglectful or abusive, she was a mom doing her what she could do in adverse conditions. With the jaywalking conviction the court saves faces with all the blamers, by saying they were not just going to ignore everything out of sympathy.

    A well balanced ending, to a horrible time for this family.

  20. DH June 17, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    I hate what I call “sidewalks to nowhere” which are all over the suburbs.

    I work in a building on the west side of a busy, four-lane street. There are a bunch of office buildings and apartments on the west side.

    There are a bunch of fast food places and restaurants on the east side. There are sidewalks going down both sides of the street but NO LEGAL PLACE TO CROSS. I think the closest crosswalk is over a mile and a half to the south.

    Once in a while I will walk over to a fast food place from my office, and cross at a light (no cross walk there). One day, a cop saw me do this and pulled over and gave me a lecture that it wasn’t a legal or safe place to cross. I asked him where the legal or safe places to cross were and he told me I should drive my car over. Drive my car to cross the street.

  21. tdr June 17, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    As I recall it wasn’t just the 3 kids. It was 3 kids, a small load of groceries (what they could all carry) and it had taken hours just to buy a small load of groceries!

    I’m exhausted just thinking about it. And for sure that poor woman did not have the resources for adequate legal counsel.

    I’m glad the outcome was positive. I’ve wondered about this from time to time.

  22. Natalie June 17, 2013 at 11:29 am #

    The mom took a gamble and lost. It’s a gamble lots of people make and win 99.99999% of the time. It doesn’t make her negligent, it makes her unlucky. She would have prevented it by going to the crosswalk but that’s not a reason to try her for manslaughter.

    The whole incident is tragic, I don’t see a need to assign blame for the child’s death to either party as even a sober driver could have hit him. There isn’t much time to react going 50 mph.

    @DH- drive your car to cross the street. Brilliant. Did you ever see LA story with Steve Martin?

  23. Uly June 17, 2013 at 11:44 am #

    DH, are you sure it’s illegal to cross there? Seems to me that if there’s a light, it should count as an “unmarked crosswalk”, which generally is legal (though I’d check local laws first, of course). Over time I’ve started to realize that when people don’t want you to do something, they just make shit up. But just because somebody claims there’s a law against such-and-fuch, sadly, that doesn’t mean there really is.

    “She would have prevented it by going to the crosswalk but that’s not a reason to try her for manslaughter. ”

    Not necessarily. I sometimes find that specific crosswalks are less safe than crossing in the middle of the street because some people won’t look where they’re turning!

  24. DH June 17, 2013 at 12:04 pm #

    @Natalie: almost everyone else in my office building DOES drive their car to go to the strip mall across the street. Such a waste of gas, and the strip mall has parking problems already.

    @Uly: I know it’s not illegal on the state level, but this particular town is known for passing local misdemeanor laws like that which would probably never survive a court challenge. The cop didn’t write me a ticket though, which I suspect means he was well aware he was bs-ing.

  25. pentamom June 17, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    “@DH- drive your car to cross the street. Brilliant. Did you ever see LA story with Steve Martin? ”

    I didn’t see that one, but I did see the opening sequence of “The Gods Must Be Crazy” where the person backs out of the driveway to drive one house-length down the street to mail a letter and then back.

    I do admit that often when I’m already in the car, I will drive an extra few blocks around to cross a particularly busy street at a light or a four-way stop, or avoid a left turn into moderate to heavy traffic that does not have a stop. But I never drive across the street.

  26. pentamom June 17, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    Uly, I agree it might be the case that the cop was just making stuff up. But I do know that around here we have posted “no pedestrian crossing” signs, and I don’t think they could put those up if state law did not allow it. The cases I’m thinking of are on city streets that are actually state highways.

    So you never know.

  27. pentamom June 17, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    OTOH, “no pedestrian crossing” might not mean it’s illegal, just “this isn’t a marked crossing so you’re on your own and at fault if you try it.” I’m not sure.

  28. Natalie June 17, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    Hah! The Gods Must be Crazy! I’m laughing just thinking about it.
    I haven’t seen that movie in ages. I’m going to have to put it on my Netflix queue now.

  29. Natalie June 17, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    @uly- you’re right, there’s no 100%. Although people wish it were so.

  30. Yan Seiner June 17, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    I lived in the South for many years. The DOT there was notorious for being hostile to bikes and peds. Not just ignoring them, but actively hostile.

    We had a bridge that was dangerously narrow. The DOT took the position that if a cyclist or a ped was hit on that bridge, they (the ped/cyclist) would be charged with trespassing. No kidding.

    The same DOT refused to signalize a very, very busy intersection for years, in spite of several fatal accidents / year. We pressed the DOT for reasons, and eventually it came out that they keep a “death count” of intersections, and only signalize an intersection if the death count exceeds some threshold – because signals impede the flow of cars, and pedestrians don’t belong.

    So it’s no surprise that a neighboring state would charge a woman with “vehicular homicide” when she was crossing a road. She could have been charged with trespassing as well, and impeding traffic.

  31. Michelle June 17, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Yan, I don’t know about the actual DOT in Texas, but that sure lines up with the attitudes of people I’ve encountered. Everyone thinks cyclists and pedestrians are either nuisances, or “in trouble.”

    From the people who stop to ask if I’m ok when they see me walking to the store (one even asked if I needed her to buy me a coat!), to the drivers who honk and swerve angrily around cyclists, to the drivers who honked at my daughter for falling in the road after being hit by a car.

  32. Andy June 17, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    @Hels Few hundred yards with kids and groceries can take additional 15-20 minutes and can be very tiring. It is not casual “will do it voluntarily multiple times a day” even after being tired distance.

    You would know that if you would walk more often and rode car less. It is almost funny when driver calls pedestrians “fat ass”.

  33. Dave June 17, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    Atlanta is the worst walking city I have ever been in. When my wife and I were there we could not cross a main street at the corner with a walk sign fast enough before the light changed. A mother with Children would have trouble navigating the streets. The city was designed to accommodate cars not people. Cities need to take the needs of pedestrians seriously.

  34. Chihiro June 17, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    The fact that she got a new trial is very good. It means the mom appealed to have her case revised and a judge in the appeals court thought that the lower court made a mistake and granted her a retrial. So there are some good judges out there!

  35. Cheryl June 17, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Glad to report that here in Seattle, bus stops are required to be near safe street crossings. This came about after a high school student ran across an arterial to catch a bus and got hit. He survived but isn’t the same.

  36. Gina June 17, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

    OT:Who is/was Dolly?

  37. Michelle June 17, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    Chihiro, the original judge who tried the case offered her a new trial after she was convicted. I didn’t even know judges could do that.

  38. pentamom June 17, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

    “From the people who stop to ask if I’m ok when they see me walking to the store (one even asked if I needed her to buy me a coat!),”

    One of my favorite crazy neighborhood stories is the time my then 13 yo daughter was picking raspberries along a nearby street (it’s an “undeveloped city park,” basically a useless area of about a city block in size that’s allowed to grow wild and gets brush hogged at the edges once a year to keep the sidewalk clear, so the bushes belong to no one) and a lady stopped and offered her a couple of bucks to buy bananas, thinking the poor child must be foraging to avoid starvation.

    Um, no, she was just planning to bake a pie. LOL.

  39. pentamom June 17, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    Gina, Dolly was a rather obnoxious, self-centered and frequently self-righteous commenter at this site who made comment threads into drama plays starring herself. More than that, is not worth the electrons to explain. :)

  40. Papilio June 17, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

    “From the people who stop to ask if I’m ok when they see me walking to the store (one even asked if I needed her to buy me a coat!)”
    Haha, so if you don’t use a car you must be homeless?!!

    But seriously, all your traffic stories are just jaw-dropping! Outlawed pedestrians & cyclists, driving your car to cross the street – it’s insane! Literally!
    It makes me count my blessings too: how could I ever feel uncomfortable in this traffic? http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ky9bVS0dsWo
    Look what the taxi passenger does at 0:34-0:37!

  41. Bob Davis June 17, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    This matter has also been extensively covered in the “Streetsblog” websites, which are devoted to promoting non-automotive transportation. Regarding the business block where employees have to drive to reach the food supply on the other side of the street: The oil companies must rub their corporate hand with glee when they contemplate situations like this. We can probably trace this whole situation back to Henry Ford and his “Universal Car” (the Model T), and General Motors and their GMAC installment plan (pay as you drive). GM can also share some of the blame for the annual model change and the “trade in/trade up” concept that made an ever-growing stream of used cars working their way down the automotive food chain until they became “clunkers” that everyone but the most “financially challenged” Americans could afford.

  42. Natalie June 17, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

    You know, we have all of these “Share the Road!” signs in Massachusetts (aimed at drivers to share the road with bikers and pedestrians) which I always thought were kind of silly and unnecessary.

    Maybe they’re not.

  43. Warren June 17, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

    Yes Bob, blame it on the evil oil companies and the monster automakers.

    North Americans fell in love with cars, trucks and motorcycles. They want newer, more advanced, the latest and the greatest. All the automakers did was play to the publics greed, ego’s and competitive natures. Car buyers are almost as bad as video game buyers when it comes to buying the newest and best.

  44. Taradlion June 17, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    I remember this story.

    I also remember Dolly’s reaction. I often wondered what happened to her too…maybe she finally conceded that she was not in fact a free range parent. Although that was clear from almost every comment she ever made, she always claimed to be pro free range (which was odd)….

  45. DH June 17, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

    @Warren: actually, the car companies are currently pooping their pants because the Millenials, as a whole, aren’t buying into the concepts around car-purchasing and car-ownership that so drove older generations.

  46. hineata June 18, 2013 at 2:39 am #

    @Hels – I remember trying to get three kids, 6, 3 and 2 at the time, to walk about 350m in the kind of boiling heat Atlanta would have, while trying to drag bags etc at the same time. It took ages, the 6 year old being fine, but the two littlies sitting on their wee butts every couple of metres and refusing to move. I would like to say I was a model of decorum and patience with the wee darlings, but I ended up losing it 50m into the exercise, after the 6 year old gave up trying to drag one of the wee recalcitrant. I phoned my husband and threatened to head straight to the nearest airport and take the first plane home if he didn’t leave work and pick us up right NOW.

    And that was one single day, and I had a husband to threaten, who did have a car, and I didn’t have to cross any roads. Plus I had a shapely ass in those days, though it’s gone to pack now :-) . If all we had been trying to do was cross a road from a bus stop to our flat, you can bet we would have been crossing the road, busy or not, rather than drag them hundreds of metres to a dubious crossing……Particularly if we had to do the exercise several times a week.

    Planners are paid to plan, and in this case the planners have failed to take into account the needs of their citizens.

  47. Katie June 18, 2013 at 8:27 am #

    @ Hels Wow how terrible and selfish to say that you would be fine with hitting someone who is crossing the road. Is where you are going really so important that you would be willing to commit murder?

    Why would you think that someone who walks would be the fat ass anyway? Walking burns calories driving not so much.

    If you don’t like pedestrians than move somewhere where there aren’t any.

  48. Katie June 18, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    @ Andy, Donna,

    Yes I find the whole Hels calling these people who walk fat asses insane too. This person sounds like they need counseling and to have their license taken away. That being said I think they are just a troll.

  49. Warren June 18, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    Well as much as everyone would love to believe that it is the new morally superior generation, that has the oil companies, and automakers shaking in their boots, it is not.

    It is just a matter of pure mathematics. The largest demographic in our population, the generation that drove the economy, the Baby Boomers, they are getting older and retiring. The majority of them are now because of recent economics not able to retire in the style the had planned for. They like all of us took a hit.

    This has a direct effect on the auto industry. We will also see this effect many other industries.

  50. Donna June 18, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    @Katie – Hels is a frequent poster here so not a troll.

    I do think s/he is the exact type of person who convicted this woman to start with.

  51. Suzanne June 18, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    Glad to hear the new outcome for this story!!

  52. Buffy June 18, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    “That certainly doesn’t make me sympathetic towards them if any of them does get hit – they would fully deserve that”

    Frequent poster or not, that IS kind of a trollish thing to say. I guess we can be happy he/she didn’t say “if any of them gets *killed*”……

  53. Papilio June 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    Yeah, okay, but Hels also gave some examples of really annoying ped behavior, so I kind of understand where he’s coming from.
    To me it’s give a little, take a little in traffic. As a cyclist and pedestrian, I don’t always wait for a green light. I do however wait for a gap in the car flow, because after all they have the right of way and I don’t want to get hurt. I certainly don’t just step into the road causing the driver to hit the breaks, as Hels describes.
    A few months back, I drove home on a Friday night around 23:30 on a very empty 50mph road, when a group of teenage boys was goofing around on the median, and then one of them started to cross, very calmly, right there in my headlights, right under the big green lights – MY green lights – fully aware of my presence. I had to swerve to avoid him, and I have no idea whether he would have been able to jump away had I been changing the radio station or find something in the glove compartment for those few seconds.
    It was scary at the moment and I was quite angry afterwards, so yes, I can understand that feeling of ‘Fine! Let them get hurt!’.

  54. Joanne June 19, 2013 at 6:32 pm #

    @deb We had a power outage at my apartment complex recently. (I’m in Texas. No AC is a BIG deal). I was headed out for dinner when I saw these cars in our parking lot. Apparently a toddler had wandered off and was out in the road. THREE separate cars (none of which were residents) had stopped for the kid and were all yelling at the parents. And at least 1 called 911. Yes, this was a bad thing to have happen. I’m sure the parents were terribly upset. But the young couple did not need three separate people giving them crap about it.

  55. Jen June 19, 2013 at 11:08 pm #

    @Deb–The beach situation you describe happened to us. Our daughter was 4 at the time; my husband thought she was with me and vice versa. It was probably 30 minutes before we realized she was missing. Fortunately she was contentedly chatting up a lifeguard and none the worse for wear. In the brief time I had to worry, my mind of course went to the worst case scenario, but it also occurred to me that we might end up the subjects of a CPS investigation. When I explained our misunderstanding, the lifeguard smiled and said, “It happens all the time.” For her part, my 4 year old had shown them where our stuff was on the beach so they knew where to wait for us, and when I asked if she’d been scared, she replied, “Not really . . . I knew you would find me.”

    I often think of that experience when I hear stories like these. . . There but for the grace of God go I. We were lucky–our momentary lapse had a happy ending–as do most. We all make mistakes because, as Lenore points out, we’re all human. Prosecuting a parent under those circumstances seems cruel and pointless.

  56. Amanda Matthews June 20, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

    Just because we should not AUTOMATICALLY blame the parents does not mean that they aren’t partially to blame SOMETIMES.

    This mother lived near a highway, crossed the highway regularly, and yet in 4 years did not teach her child to not run in front of cars on highways. I see that as neglectful. I see that as not trying her hardest. It’s not vehicular homicide, but it’ s neglectful.

    Yes, I know it sucks having to ride the bus with kids to get groceries. I’ve had to do it. I also know that sometimes, kids get away from you. But that is EXACTLY the reason why you have to teach kids to not run out in front of cars. Nothing excuses you from teaching your kids the necessary things to survive.

  57. Donna June 20, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    Yes, Amanda, of course she is neglectful and hasn’t taught her child not to go into the street because no 4 year old in the history of 4 year olds has ever done something he was taught not to do. 4 year olds are not known for being even slightly impetuous or for throwing tantrums or for occasionally misbehaving. In fact, 4 year olds are perfect 24/7 and any deviation from that MUST be the fault of the parent.

    In other words, it would not surprise me in the least to hear that a 4 year old who had been dragged around on a bus running errands all day and was tired ran out into the road impetuously after seeing his house despite being taught the dangers of the road. I don’t know that this is agar happened, but I do know that we shouldn’t assume that she didn’t teach her child about road safety just because he didn’t exercise it 100% of the time at 4.

  58. Donna June 20, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    Not sure how autocorrect got “agar” from “what” but there you have it.

  59. Beth June 20, 2013 at 5:54 pm #

    Oh my gosh yes….God forbid a parent be faced with a situation BEFORE teaching her 4-year-old how to behave in said situation. And God forbid a 4-year-old just ignore all those lessons!

  60. RunTime714 June 21, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    @Amanda: If I recall correctly, and it has been a long while since this story first ran, I researched as much as I could find out about it at the time. It was reported several times that the driver sped up before he hit the child, which at first made no sense to me. Then I found one report that said that either a teen or young adult had actually crossed the road ahead of the others waiting at the meeting. Which, to me at least, made sense that the fairly quick movements of the grown person enabled them to cross safely. It also made sense that the 4 year old saw the person start to cross and followed suit. At which point the mother recalled shouting first “stop”, then “run” since he was now in the road and in danger. It is easy enough for someone to start to move when they are waiting to cross and see someone else move. It happens all the time. Young children (and the rest of us) take lots of cues from the movement of others.

    It also made some little sense of the increase of speed of the motorist. Probably realizing that the taller, more visible person was technically safe, but still feeling annoyed (as @Hels admits), he sped up to make a point. Its not known that even even saw the 4 year old, at least until much too late.

    Lastly, bus stops ARE planned locations. Since it does not appear that there was much surrounding the bus stop on the same side of the street, and since the neighborhood was immediately across from the stop, it seems very likely that the stop was meant to service that community – that crossing the street was an expected activity, not a deviation from the norm.

  61. Molly June 26, 2013 at 5:29 pm #

    As an urban planner, Lenore’s highlight of Transportation for America’s Op-Ed in the Washington Post in 2011 that the engineers and planners should be held responsible too hits home for me. (Note: this is not the type of planning I was taught and it is the fight I fight every day.) I think Ms. Nelson has a case to sue the municipality, Georgia DOT, and transit agency for the location of the bus stop and the lack of pedestrian facilities for accessing both sides of the street. Unfortunately, I don’t know a lawyer who would be willing to represent.

    The most egregious outstanding issue in this case, however, is not whether the driver got cited for homicide, but that the bus stop STILL has not been relocated! After three years! From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Flocks said the Georgia Department of Transportation is looking at moving the Cobb County Transit bus stop that Nelson used in 2010 closer to a traffic light.”

    It does not take that long to move a bus stop, design and install pedestrian crossings, or redesign the roadway for PEOPLE and not just automobiles.