UPDATE!! Outrage of the Week: Mom Convicted in Death of Her Son (Who Ran Across the Street)

UPDATE! frrzfhnttf
Readers — Here’s a petition asking Georgia to release the mother from her “vehicular manslaughter” conviction and PUT IN A CROSSWALK! I just signed it! — L. 

Hi Readers — This case is so sickeningly sad, I don’t know where to begin. Fortunately, a blog I’d never heard of before — Transportation for America — does a PERFECT  job of summing up the whole story and why it is such an outrage. Read it right here and kudos to the author, David Goldberg.

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 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.

Goldberg also points out that none of the jurors who convicted the mom had ever even taken a public bus in Atlanta. They all had cars. In other words:

They had never taken two buses to go grocery shopping at Wal-Mart with three kids in tow. They had never missed a transfer on the way home that caused them to wait a full hour-and-a-half with tired and hungry kids for the next bus. They had never been let off at a bus stop on a five-lane speedway, with their apartment in sight across the road, and been asked to drag those three little ones an additional half-mile-plus down the road to the nearest traffic signal and back in order to get home at last.

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


317 Responses to UPDATE!! Outrage of the Week: Mom Convicted in Death of Her Son (Who Ran Across the Street)

  1. mamataney July 19, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    I feel so sick to my stomach just reading about this.

  2. Ben July 19, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    What happened to being judged by a jury of your peers. Obviously her defense dropped the ball during jury selection. A shame, because this again promotes the wrong mindset. It is impossible for parents to keep their kids safe 24/7 and it is about time we stop believing that.

  3. Henry Crun July 19, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    Ben, I think you miss the point. Who in the District Attorney’s office even thought that this mom even had a case to answer?

    It beggars belief that charges were even brought against her!

    Then again, what evidence was put before the jury that would have convicted her? Short of her pushing the child in front of the oncoming vehicle, there’s no way this mom should be held responsible.

  4. coffeegod July 19, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    Too bad I wasn’t on that jury. That poor woman. My heart breaks for her.

  5. Cass July 19, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

    Wow. That is a tough one. As a motorist I always mentally abuse people crossing roads like taht. I k ow if u saw a mum with three kids attempting it then I would be horrified.

    I also know I am the type of driver who will happily block a lane of traffic just to stop the cars so people like that can finish crossing safely.

    I think, as always Lenore, you have summed it up well. While I might think it was a stupid thing to do, I don’t like the idea of prosecuting mums for stupid mistakes.

    Maybe your (not really a wish) has been granted. Is there a chance that this child could be a poster child for change in motoring behavior?

  6. kaleete July 19, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

    How in the heck can she be charged with vehicular manslaughter when she wasn’t the one driving a vehicle?! Jaywalking I can see, and in my opinion is the ONLY thing that she could possibly have done wrong by the letter of the law.

  7. Brian July 19, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    Very sad in the particular. Lets hope that the judge and/or governor perhaps work out a pardon or no jail time sentence.

    More importantly, lets hope a case like this can help us to see the ways that our system piles on the poor. Shame on us all because this is really all of our fault.

    We cut taxes on hedge funds and oil companies which means we then slash funding for public transportation, child care and legal aid. The result–this case.

  8. Cass July 19, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    @kaletee. I guess I can see there reasoning (though am in two minds about it). Free ranging is all about giving kids skills that allow them to reduce the risks around them. This story is about a mum, who under a lot of stress, made a stupid decision to lead her kids into a dangerous situation (one that is illegal because of its real danger). The price she paid make me cry for her, it is too much too pay.

    However when the story dies down and the prosecution is forgotten the story of a mum leading three kids across a busy road will remain as a real warning of a real risk that many free-rangers commonly use as a statistic to represent real risk in our lives (much as I remember the local story of the man who dropped his child off at school and then ran him over resulting in his death).

  9. LoopyLoo July 19, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    Between this and Casey Anthony walking free, I’m having serious doubts about “justice” these days. Are people simply no longer able to see the difference between intentional harm and a tragic accident?

  10. Rachael July 19, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    Oh, geez, this is horrible. I live in the Atlanta area, and I can tell you this is NOT a pedestrian-friendly city AT ALL. It’s a shame that they’ve prosecuted this woman like that. Even though she may have been careless in her choice to cross without a crosswalk, how on earth was she expected to know that a drunk driver would be there at the same time?? And let’s not forget the fact that she witnessed her own child hit and killed by a car! I’m sure she has plenty of remorse over the whole thing, without adding to it by prosecuting her. Talk about punishing the victim.

  11. Sarah P.H. July 19, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

    This story is absolutely insane. I’m not familiar with the laws that were invoked here, but it sounds like utter nonsense to me that someone who was *not driving a car* could be convicted of *vehicular manslaughter* — seriously, WTF?

    Are there any grounds for an appeal here? Especially with the badly-selected jury thing?

  12. Valerie July 19, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    IMO the mother was also negligent in the fact that she didn’t have all her children under control.

    They weren’t crossing at a pedestrian crossing place.

    Because other people were crossing doesn’t mean she should have crossed.
    Did the other folks crossing have 3 children with them???
    Whether the driver of the vehicle was drunk or not, he/she was responsible for not braking in time, but the mother was responsible for crossing at the wrong place on a busy highway, whether her apartment was in view or not. Both mother and driver were responsible.
    What if the child running across the road had caused an accident killing other drivers?

    I feel sorry for the mother that her child was killed, but she should have known better. She’s responsible for the welfare of her children, and because she was in too much of a hurry ………………….. !

    It’s too easy to blame the highway designers, traffic engineers, transit planners and land use regulators.
    There is nothing wrong with the highways, it’s the people who use them that’s the problem. Drivers and pedestrians!

  13. Valerie July 19, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    IMO the mother was also negligent in the fact that she didn’t have all her children under control.

    They weren’t crossing at a pedestrian crossing place.

    Because other people were crossing doesn’t mean she should have crossed.
    Did the other folks crossing have 3 children with them???
    Whether the driver of the vehicle was drunk or not, he/she was responsible for not braking in time, but the mother was responsible for crossing at the wrong place on a busy highway, whether her apartment was in view or not. Both mother and driver were responsible.
    What if the child running across the road had caused an accident killing other drivers?

    I feel sorry for the mother that her child was killed, but she should have known better. She’s responsible for the welfare of her children, and because she was in too much of a hurry ………………….. !

    It’s too easy to blame the highway designers, traffic engineers, transit planners and land use regulators.
    There is nothing wrong with the highways, it’s the people who use them that is the problem. Drivers and pedestrians!

  14. Ben July 19, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    @Henry: No I don’t miss the point, but the jury thing just jumped out at me. They added insult to injury and decided on some parental discrimination on top of the trauma.

  15. pentamom July 19, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    Yeah, if they hadn’t prosecuted this woman, she would have got off scot-free for her error in judgment.

    Because losing a child is roughly like….well having nothing happen to you at all!

    /angry sarcasm

  16. Rebecca Menes July 19, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    Not clear what the best option is – walking 1/2+ along a busy highway is ALSO very dangerous. The child could have dodged off the sidewalk, too.

    My heart bleeds for what this mother is living through. The community should be supporting her and her kids, not criminalizing her. But it seems to be nearly impossible for some people to bridge the gulf between the bus riders and the car drivers.

    I used to live in Los Angeles, where I often took buses – at first b/c I didn’t own a car, then b/c it was convenient. One Sat morning I was sitting at a bus stop, small suitcase at my feet, headed to the airport for a flight to an academic conference. As I sat there, a BMW pulled up and an anxious young man got out and walked over to me.

    “Are you okay?” he asked.

    I looked at him, for it took me a minute to identify the source of his concern — a young, well dressed white girl at a bus stop. Clearly I had to be in some sort of real trouble.

    “Are you running away? Is your boyfriend after you?”

    (I am not making this up.)

    “No,” I replied, “I am waiting for a bus to go to the airport.”

    He was finally convinced that I was not in imminent threat of my life, and got back in his car — only to realize 1/2 a block down that even if I wasn’t in danger, I might be in search of a ride. He stopped, and back up the 1/2 block, rolled down his window and asked:

    “Need a ride to the airport?”

    I didn’t take it. My bus was already visible in the distance. But the event brought home to me a central truth – in Los Angeles, white people do not ride buses.

  17. esw July 19, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    Honestly, even if she had walked down to the crosswalk, the point here is that the little one wriggled free, and could have just as easily been killed running across at a crosswalk as at the median. In our city sadly EVERY year someone gets killed crossing at those “pedestrian crossings” that cross semi-busy roads, as drivers don’t always pay attention or don’t ‘get’ the idea of the crosswalk being a pedestrian right-of-way. I wonder if the mother still would have been prosecuted for letting her little one ‘get away’? For those who have kids or have taken care of little ones, we all know that sometimes they just get away no matter how vigilent you’re being! My heart breaks for her loss.

  18. Mary July 19, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    @Valerie, did you read the full description of the incident in the other blog article? The mom had to take two buses to go grocery shopping with three kids. They missed the transfer and had to wait an additional hour and a half for the next bus on the way home. To cross at the cross walk would have required dragging them on foot another half mile. (What kind of a bus route/pedestrian plan is that?) Obviously, in retrospect she should have done it. I bet if you asked her, she would say she’d walk around the world to bring her baby back. She may be guilty of J-walking as another reader observed. But deserving three years of prison time for this? Outrageous. And what about the other kids? Will they really be better off without their mother? Highly doubtful. As a mother who finds it a full-time job to keep one young child close, I can’t imagine handling three. If, as you asked, one of them had run out and caused an accident, it would have been a tragic *accident.* Not something the for which the mother should be criminally liable. It’s so sad that we as a society insist that *somebody* has to go to jail for every tragic accident, especially those involving children.

  19. Maureen July 19, 2011 at 10:34 pm #


  20. dmd July 19, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    This is so totally wrong. The mother is already in her own private prison over the death of her child. Convicting her is senseless and cruel but a demonstration of how we focus so much on having to have someone to blame, twice over.

    That said, I am a tyrant about crossing at lights. Former coworkers would laugh at me because I would insist on crossing at the light. This is only because I recognize how dangerous cars and bigger vehicles can be.

    I feel for this mom and – knowing Atlanta – can’t even say that I wouldn’t have done this. Atlanta is terribly unfriendly to pedestrians. I’m not sure what came first – building pedestrian-unfriendly communities for anti-freerange thinking. They go hand-in-hand.

  21. Robin July 19, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    Awful. As someone pointed out, what happens to the other kids without their mom? And if she had left the kids at home and something happened, she’d also be in jail. This was a no win all around for her.

  22. tdr July 19, 2011 at 11:00 pm #

    Since this poor woman did not hire a cab to take her family home from the store I’m willing to bet she also did not have the resources to hire the best lawyer in town.

    This is heartbreaking. I can only imagine how long it would have taken to shlep 3 kids including 1 hot, tired 4 yr old an extra MILE to get home after a multi-hour trip to the grocery store.

    She probably knows how long it takes and that’s why she decided to chance it. Who can blame her? Who would have anticipated such an outcome?

  23. Uly July 19, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

    Valerie, if the pedestrian crossings are a mile or more apart (which is the only way it works out if the closest one is half a mile from the bus stop), THAT is what’s not reasonable. Do not blame the mother because of poor civic design.

    Between this and Casey Anthony walking free, I’m having serious doubts about “justice” these days.

    Casey Anthony is a liar, that much is obvious. However, unfortunately, there was no evidence she killed her kid. And you can’t convict people with no evidence, even when you think you know what happened. She’s not a danger to others, and in the interests of justice I’d rather see a killer (especially one who is not likely to do it again) go free than see innocent people convicted because it’s become acceptable to convict on no evidence.

  24. Kim Kircher July 19, 2011 at 11:09 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this story. What an outrage!

  25. kari July 19, 2011 at 11:13 pm #

    According to the original article there was a picture & it showed no desidnated crosswalk, just an intersection…where the drunk driver would have gone thru anyway. People get killed in crosswalks also by drivers who feel they have the right of way…and drunk drivers. A cross walk will not save your life from a drunk driver, nor will laws, rules, regulations,etc.

  26. Lollipoplover July 19, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

    I find the path to reason (criminal charges) utterly illogical.

    Parenting these days is hard enough but to add manslaughter charges for improper hand holding and poor common sense makes every accident open to prosecution. She should have crossed at the intersection. But she didn’t. Parents shouldn’t feed their kids junk food, but they do. Is it a crime if the food leads to obesity (and early death?) How many laws do we need to dictate common sense?

    I remember vividly the day my children “pantsed” me outside a Wawa convenience store. With 3 kids in 5 years, I had one hand on the infant carrier, one on the bag of groceries, and instructed my two toddlers to hold each leg of my loose fitting, post-pregnancy sweat pants (probably with pancake batter on them.) Unfortunately, my 2yo tripped, and pulled down my pants to the ground, for all of the parking lot to see my big girl panties. (My daughter loved telling that story at circle time.)
    The reason for this story is I feel for this mom as my children could have disobeyed and darted in traffic, but they didn’t. Sometimes kids don’t listen. I have had feral child moments when they do not behave. But if any of these moments ended in tragedy, I now live in fear of being charged?

  27. RobynHeud July 19, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    I remember going on a “city slicker” cattle drive once and the horse I was riding beoming more and more difficult to control the closer we got back to the ranch as was the case with most of the other riders. The rancher said it was because they knew they were close to getting home and getting feed and rest and the closer they got the more anxious they got to get there sooner. I can only imagine that the woman in the story as well as all of her kids were just as anxious to get home. I can’t say that I wouldn’t have made the same choice she did. I can say that it’s not just Atlanta that isn’t pedestrian-friendly. I lived in Augusta for about a year and it was near impossible to walk anywhere, especially pushing a stroller or carrying groceries.

  28. Valerie July 19, 2011 at 11:20 pm #

    In Memoriam

    Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend by the name of Common Sense.
    No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

    He will be remembered as having cultivated valued lessons such as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm and that life isn’t always fair.

    Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not kids, are in charge). His health began to rapidly deteriorate when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.

    Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch, and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student only worsened his condition. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer aspirin to a student but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

    Finally, Common sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband, churches became businesses and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

    Common Sense finally gave up the ghost after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot, spilled a bit in her lap, and was awarded a huge settlement.

    Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust, his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by two stepbrothers; My Rights and Ima Whiner. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

  29. darb July 19, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

    A human – yes. But she made a decision and placed her kids at risk.

    She jaywalked and paid a huge price for it. Bus stops aren’t always adjacent to pedestrian walkways. Yes it seems like salt added to the wound with the charge, but she made a very bad choice in this case

  30. darb July 19, 2011 at 11:49 pm #

    File another one under lazy parenting. Please don’t break the law and blame it on city engineers, or by saying “we’ll people get hit in pedestrian walkways all the time!”. I mean do freerangers take responsibility for anything, or is it just an exercise in how to pass the buck?

  31. Steve July 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

    For some time now, I’ve been thinking the wild news stories we see in our politically correct times seem like April Fools Jokes…only they aren’t jokes!!!! And years ago, nobody would have believed you if you told some of the stories like we see in today’s news.

    This court decision is only one you would imagine being made in Hell.

    The unfortunate woman will not be able to wake up and breathe a sigh of relief – because it isn’t just a bad dream. How sad for her, and how sad our country.

  32. Uly July 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

    Valerie, when we want to be given nonsensical religious messages, we’ll all ask for them.

  33. Kate July 19, 2011 at 11:52 pm #

    That poor woman. As if losing a child to an accident isn’t bad enough now she has to go to prison because the tsk tsk’rs and tongue cluckers need someone to crucify in order to feel like better people and parents.

    Every parent in existence has experienced at least one second where they weren’t “in control” of their children and something awful could have happened. Every. Parent.

    I was going to post some examples here but it’s a waste of time. Every parent has that story of when their 2 to 4 year old got away from them or hid somewhere or climbed on something and scared the hell out of them. We all have at least one. Think of what your “negligent” moment was and then think about the worst possible thing that could have happened during that moment of being a human being. Now think about going to prison for that.

    The only difference between this woman and anyone else is luck. She was colossally unlucky that her human moment happened to collide with a drunk driver.

  34. Uly July 19, 2011 at 11:52 pm #

    Darb, when the street is designed so poorly that you have to walk half a mile to cross it, that’s not my fault. That IS a fault of design. What are we supposed to do, pretend that it’s okay to design things so badly that poor people and those who can’t drive are unable to reasonably get around?

  35. Kate July 19, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

    Also, I’m a little frightened that people seem to think the death of a child and subsequent prison time is the appropriate punishment for jaywalking.

    Can anyone really say that they’ve never jaywalked without crossing their fingers behind their back? Yeah, I didn’t think so…

  36. maaaty July 19, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

    According to the Streetsblog piece on this, the driver had been convicted of two previous hit-and-runs, one on that very same hideously designed road.

    Who has not had a 4-year-old burst away? If the streets were patrolled by drunk drivers, we’d all be guilty eventually.

  37. Uly July 19, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

    Of course, the people not taking responsibility for this are the ones who put this woman in this difficult position in the first place – that is, the folks who designed the roads and the community to be unwalkable.

    Passing the buck? They made a difficult or impossible situation, and then penalized the person who got caught up in it. Beats me why they can’t space those things more closely together. It’s not exactly rocket science.

  38. darb July 20, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    So we need a crossing at every bus stop now. Wow.. Utopia will be a very expensive place to live. I hope you all don’t mind paying exorbitant municipal taxes for the fantasy world you envision

  39. Kate July 20, 2011 at 12:03 am #

    I should really be working right now but somebody brought up the coffee lawsuit so I feel compelled to shed a little light on that.

    I worked at McDonald’s when that lawsuit happened. Some of the restaurants (including the one involved in the suit) were using these super heating coffee makers. They was designed to brew a large amount of coffee extremely fast. The downside was that the coffee came out hot enough to burn the skin immediately if you happened to slosh any out of the cup while filling it.

    If you’ve ever filled a cup of hot coffee and sloshed some of it on your hand, your skin probably didn’t blister. This coffee caused blisters immediately. I have two burn scars on my body because of that coffee maker. One of between my thumb and forefinger from trying to quickly fill drive thru orders and another on my leg from where a coworker tripped and spilled a cup on my leg. It burnt me through my pants. Blistered skin, blood and all that jazz. I went to the hospital for it.

    Every employee at my restaurant complained about that damn coffee maker because it was a serious hazard. Several employees refused to use it altogether. McDonald’s had a long, long list of customer complaints from both employees and customers about their coffee when the lawsuit occurred. This is why that woman was awarded so much money. The general public didn’t know about the massive amounts of injuries caused by the coffee machine of death, but the jury did.

  40. Jynet July 20, 2011 at 12:06 am #

    As a bus rider by choice in a community of non-walker/non-bus riders, I feel sickened by this. I can’t believe that they charged her with this – for all the reasons already stated.

    I’ve done my groceries by bus more times than I can count, often with my young daughter in tow (now she’s 17 SHE does the groceries by bus too!). It is very trying at the best of times, with only a 30 minute ride and excellent connections. I can’t imagine doing it with bad connections and three kids 🙁

    Part of the problem here is definitely poor infrastructure design, but part is also the “food desert” that meant that she had to go on two busses just to get to the grocery store in the first place! Many grocery chains are pulling out of lower income areas, and the convenience stores that are replacing them rarely (if ever) have fruit or veggies or any kind of non-processed food. Read more about food deserts here: http://www.cdc.gov/features/fooddeserts/

  41. Devin Baillie July 20, 2011 at 12:07 am #

    No darb, but we do need them closer than a mile apart.

  42. SKL July 20, 2011 at 12:15 am #

    Wow. Since when is having a runaway preschooler a crime? I’m sure she would not have let him dart into the street if she thought he was likely to try it.

    Also, who’s to say that if she’d dragged her kids to the crosswalk, none of them would have tried darting into the road on the way there?

    Why do some idiots think a mother’s grief after a pure accident is not enough punishment?

  43. Uly July 20, 2011 at 12:18 am #

    Darb, every bus I take, the stops are placed by intersections… where you’re able to cross the street.

    Of course, if you’re concerned about the cost, we could probably simply place them closer than a mile apart.

  44. Rich Wilson July 20, 2011 at 12:22 am #

    I lived in Atlanta for a year in 2000. At that time the MTD stop across from Cumberland Mall had a crosswalk that lead to… bushes. I don’t recall if there was a traffic signal or not, but I do remember anyone taking the bus to the mall had to walk through a bunch of landscaping.

    At other places sidewalks would just end. Or lead to driveways, so a pedestrian could enter a crosswalk from one side, and end up stranded, either walking through flowers or mixed with the the first class citizens (those in cars).

    Once Bellsouth had a contractor dig a deep pit on the side of the road where I walked to work. Being fit and able bodied, I was able to walk over the pile of dirt. People with strollers had to take their chances on the road with cars doing 50 in a 40 zone. I called Bellsouth a few times, threatened to fill the pit in, mentioned their liability if their pit caused an injury, but yet it remained for months. I’m only sad I didn’t have the vinegar to fill it. Today, older and more vinegared, I would.

    I could go on. Consideration for anyone not driving was non-existent.

  45. SKL July 20, 2011 at 12:22 am #

    I am not saying she was right to choose that way of crossing with her kids. But she has already suffered cruel and unusual punishment by watching her child die due to a momentary mistake. Seriously, I don’t know what kind of human could say she hasn’t suffered enough. (I think I already said that but I can’t help myself.)

  46. Rich Wilson July 20, 2011 at 12:26 am #

    Common sense died when people decided to cut and paste Internet glurge in place of critical thinking and research.

  47. Bob Davis July 20, 2011 at 12:30 am #

    This heartbreaking incident has been covered in the various Streetsblog websites (I started reading them after being directed to them by an electric-railway oriented website.) I think the comment about the unfortunate woman being unable to afford a good attorney probably explains one of the reasons. Public defenders do their best, but in many jurisdictions they’re overworked and underpaid. Not having anyone on the jury who used public transit is a serious error in jury selection, although there may not have been anyone on the panel who met that criterion. And I wonder why the prosecutor filed these charges in the first place (note that I’m not a lawyer, but have served on juries several times).
    A note about Streetsblog: these websites are devoted to non-automotive local transport, walking, bicycling and public transit. One of their aims is to get Americans away from the “car-centric lifestyle” most of us are into. Folks in cities like New York, Boston, San Francisco and Chicago sometimes don’t realize that in most of the US, if you don’t have a car, you’re a second-class citizen, and even in places like San Francisco, where the city government claims to have a “transit first” policy, this is often window dressing, and auto owners are still “in the driver’s seat”.

  48. LRH July 20, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    PS–pardon my type “fautl vs fault.”

    Valerie–the mother was in “too much of a hurry?” Well if wanting to–gee, I don’t know–go straight to your destination vs having to drive from New York to Florida & loop-back when all you wanted to do was go straight to West Virginia–if that’s “being in a hurry,” I suppose ALL of us are “in a hurry.”

    Shaking my head. (No, not “SMH.”)


  49. Uly July 20, 2011 at 12:40 am #

    LRH, SKL (and others, but you have the shortest usernames), let me just say that when I agree with you guys, I love you dearly. (Of course, those same traits mean that when I don’t agree with you guys, I don’t, but that’s not relevant today.)

  50. Ariel July 20, 2011 at 12:41 am #

    I skipped to the end, so if anyone has already mentioned it, my apologies. Google “unmarked crosswalk”.

    Every intersection has a crosswalk, whether marked or not, unless the state laws specifically state only marked (I doubt Georgia has). Jaywalking is crossing other than at an intersection, and obviously can be done safely. Reasonable and prudent should be the rule.

    In this specific case, I think Lenny Bruce said it well: “in the Halls of Justice, the only justice is in the halls”. This should never have been charged, let alone gone to court.

  51. Marie July 20, 2011 at 12:42 am #

    Was she wrong for choosing to cross the street at the middle rather than at the crosswalk so far away? I suppose so, but if you’re dealing with 3 kids and having to take the bus for grocery shopping, you’re probably exhausted by the time you get home. That’s rough. The guilt I have no doubt that she feels about her child’s death is plenty of punishment, although ticketing her for jaywalking would be fine.

    Making that mistake doesn’t make her criminally liable for the accident that killed her child. Kids get out of control sometimes, and you can’t always help it. This time there were tragic consequences.

    I can’t help but think the bus stop would be better placed near that crosswalk. If you don’t want people jaywalking, don’t make jaywalking so much more practical when they get off the bus near their homes.

  52. Uly July 20, 2011 at 12:46 am #

    Thank you, Ariel.

  53. kaleete July 20, 2011 at 12:46 am #

    I still can’t get my mind around it. Cass, I understand that she made an error in not crossing at the light but still…

    Are there any attorneys on here? How does a PEDESTRIAN get convicted of VEHICULAR manslaughter? This is like charging a parent with homicide if their child is killed in the crossfire of gang violence because they walked their child through a bad neighborhood!

  54. darb July 20, 2011 at 12:49 am #

    LRH – Thank you for the “f-you” comment. It reaffirms that there are crazies on both ends of the “helicopter vs “free-range” spectrum.

    And I was aware of my grammatical error. This POS website doesn’t allow us to edit our comments after submitting. That’s LAZY website management!

  55. darb July 20, 2011 at 12:54 am #

    Let’s continue the topic of putting my kids at risk everytime I drive argument. If I have a few drinks and break the law by going over the legal limit, and choose to take my kids to the market – according to the crazies here – I’ve done nothing criminally wrong. It was just a tiny little law I broke right? Be damned if I put my kids at risk.

    Same thing here – I don’t care that she was “only” jaywalking. A law was broken and she put her kids at risk. AND other drivers I might add.

  56. Uly July 20, 2011 at 12:58 am #

    Darb, if you can’t see the qualitative difference between drinking and driving and between crossing at an intersection, you have no right to be calling other people crazy.

  57. Uly July 20, 2011 at 1:00 am #

    And actually, the comment about unmarked crosswalks has given me the idea to look it up.


    This is the site I found first. I’m still looking into it, but (even as I’m no lawyer) it seems worthwhile to question whether or not the women really WAS jaywalking… or whether it was illegal to do so!

  58. Uly July 20, 2011 at 1:01 am #

    So, basically, we now have this. A woman made the reasonable choice not to walk a mile out of her way with three hungry, tired children. One kid darted into traffic in front of a drunk driver. The woman is being punished for this – and she may have been within the law in the first place!

  59. Uly July 20, 2011 at 1:03 am #

    But, you know, I thank you, Darb. If it weren’t for your bullheaded insistence, I would never have looked it up. Now I know the law, and am even more outraged on this woman’s behalf. And you have learned something too!

  60. darb July 20, 2011 at 1:04 am #

    haha now that’s a stretch. Do you know what the term “yield” means? As in the pedestrian must first yield to traffic?

  61. darb July 20, 2011 at 1:04 am #

    keep trying though..

  62. Uly July 20, 2011 at 1:05 am #

    Which she HAD done. She was standing on the island, the part of the road designated for NO CARS.

  63. Library Diva July 20, 2011 at 1:12 am #

    @Kate, I’m glad you brought that up and I’m suprised so few members of the general public remember how awful it used to be to get a hot beverage from any fast-food joint before the lawsuit. It would take a half-hour minimum before it was drinkable. Before then, your cocoa tasted like hot molten lava. the amount of money awarded to the woman was the equivalent of a day’s worth of coffee sales at all McD’s. I bet they sell more now that it’s actually drinkable within a reasonable amount of time.

    Back on-topic, I would say that this is absolutely a failure of planning. In NYS, they talk a lot about re-doing codes to make things more walkable and pedestrian-friendly. It’s going to be a very long time since the deep-pocketed car-driven built environment is totally replaced by something that actually considers the humans that use it.

    15 years ago here, we had a similar incident. A girl who lived in one of the worst ghetto areas took two busses to her job in the food court of the high-end mall. Because the mall didn’t allow busses to stop on its property, she had to cross a 6-lane highway that was designed for cars going 50 mph, not for people. Visibility was not good. She was struck and killed, and left behind a baby son. I believe Johnny Cochran represented her son’s estate and sued. They allow busses there now.

  64. LoopyLoo July 20, 2011 at 1:12 am #

    She could have walked to the crosswalk, only to have the toddler wiggle away (this can happen to any of us, right?) and then have the drunk driver come along. The only person responsible for this child’s death is the person who got drunk and then got behind the wheel of his car. I can’t believe people want to see the mother (and by extension, her other children) punished for the actions of an irresponsible drunk.

  65. Ariel July 20, 2011 at 1:27 am #

    Jaywalking is a tiny little law given the punishment assigned. DUI is not, which is why your analogy falls flat. Given your use of DUI, do realize that MADD is working towards lowering the BAC to .05 or less, so one drink for a man in less than an hour and he’s a criminal, for women it will be worse (lower oxidation rate). That level will also be used to determine legal intoxication in other areas besides driving too, so beware.

    Trust me, you break laws all the time, from speeding to whatever. Ever been a little too tired driving home? That’s considered impairment in a lot of states. Have a raptor feather at home? You’re a federal felon, have two feathers and you’re a bigger felon. Just because you aren’t caught doesn’t mean you aren’t a criminal, just lucky.

    The point here is that vehicular manslaughter is ridiculous on its face. I hope it’s thrown out on appeal. There is the spirit of the law and the letter of the law, the two are often at odds especially in the hands of an overzealous prosecutor.

  66. Drew July 20, 2011 at 1:28 am #

    I used to work in suburban Maryland on a road that sounds just like this. I was one of the only people working there who took the bus to work, and like in this instance, the bus stop was directly across the street from my workplace with no crosswalk. I could have walked a quarter mile in either direction to a crosswalk, but guess what? I jaywalked. And if you were there, you would have too. It was the only rational thing to do.

    Ironically, as part of my job I sat on a pedestrian safety task force. When you have busy roads with few traffic lights, multiple lanes and rare crosswalks, drivers travel at highway speeds, even though this was a business/residential district. Of course, the residents were mostly low-income Latino families, so little was done to improve the situation. Every few months, someone was killed crossing the street. I regularly saw women rushing across the street with their kids in strollers, pausing at the median to lift the strollers over the divider, wait for a break in traffic, and run for it.

    It’s truly, truly tragic that someone is being treated this way by the justice system. It’s also truly tragic that local leaders have no sense when it comes to transit planning. You could make a lot of helpful fixes with not that much money: narrow the traffic lanes so that drivers travel slower. Put in a few more traffic lights. Paint some more pedestrian crosswalks.

  67. Ben July 20, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    Over here, I can’t remember many bus stops that are NOT near one or more pedestrian crossings. Seems like common sense to place them where they might be most needed…

  68. Hels July 20, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    I am sorry, but I fail to have sympathy for someone who attempts to jaywalk across a major roadway, with three little kids in tow to boot. That’s not free range, that’s stupid.

    Yes, city urban planners have made it difficult for this woman. This is not an excuse for crossing the way she did. Lobby the city to add a crossing there or move the bus stop to the nearest pedestrian crossing. Jaywalkers are endangering themselves (that’s their problem) and innocent drivers (and this I DO have a problem with). And teaching their kids to do the same, unfortunately.

    On my way to and from work, I drive through an area where there are tons of jaywalkers, and they are just astonishing. They see red ligh flashing at them at the pedestrian crossing, and the cars going full speed – yet they still cross. And at leizurely pace, too, as if they are doing the right thing.

    And yes, I have used public transportation for years and I still use it a fair bit. However, I know better than to cross six to eight lanes of traffic just anywhere I please, or when the light flashes “stop”. Even if I have just spent 14 hours on my feet and my feet ache.

  69. Cheryl W July 20, 2011 at 2:05 am #

    About the kid not being under her control…if she had put a leash on the kid she would have had control to some extent. But then she would have to deal with other do-gooders who don’t have 3 kids and groceries to take care of and the kid still could have gone to the end of the leash and still been hit, even if she had walked down the street. And yes, at 4 and 5, I still had one son on a leash in situations that called for it.

    I feel sorry for this woman. I agree that more cross walks could be painted. I understand that perhaps the bus stops are in the middle of the block to not interfere with traffic. This woman should have a jaywalking record, but nothing more. What is going to happen to her kids if she goes to jail? Family? I hope so. Foster care, adoption? Perhaps. They may all be split up – so not only have they lost a sibling, but also the rest of their family. So sad.

  70. Uly July 20, 2011 at 2:09 am #

    However, I know better than to cross six to eight lanes of traffic just anywhere I please, or when the light flashes “stop”.

    Five lanes, with a median in the middle. She was stopped at the median when one child darted into traffic – something that could’ve happened if she crossed at the light and waited there.

    And, again, examining the picture closely and what I now know of Georgia’s law on the subject, it seems she wasn’t even breaking the law. She was crossing not just “where she pleases” but at the intersection.

  71. Uly July 20, 2011 at 2:10 am #

    Or at least, it doesn’t look to me like she was breaking the law. If there’s more information that would make this an exception, or my information is wildly inaccurate, I’d really appreciate the information.

  72. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 2:11 am #

    I don’t think the mother should have been charged but some parenting lessons might need to be taken. You know how we had the big debate over child leashes not that long ago on here? WELL! If this woman had been using a leash and/or a stroller this might not have happened. I wrangle two 4 year olds in parking lots and all over regularly by myself and they know by now to stay with me because I have strictly trained them. I know its a unfortunate accident and otherwise the child may have been very well behaved, but it could also be a discipline problem that the kids always ignore her and then some parenting classes might help her with that.

    Also bad idea to have a bus stop not near a crosswalk. That goes on the city planners. However, there is never an excuse to jaywalk. My husband and I were big pedestrians at one point in our lives in an area that no one else really was, and even though it meant going out of our way we ALWAYS crossed at a crosswalk on busy roads.

  73. LRH July 20, 2011 at 2:12 am #

    So darb let me understand–are you saying that the mother absolutely was a lazy, sorry, good-for-nothing pathetic excuse of a mother because she didn’t trot a mile out of the way–on foot, with tired & hungry kids in tow, in hot weather–as opposed to crossing at the “proper” crosswalk?

    Sorry, but I would’ve done what she did too. The drunk driver is to blame 100%. Even if she made an error in judgment, it’s not even REMOTELY the same as driving drunk.LoopyLoo is exactly correct.

    And no, there are no “crazies” here, not even my comment, however juvenile it may have POSSIBLY been, changes that. The point is this: you’re coming in here with an attitude of superiority & it’s a bunch of horse-manure, frankly. Your attitude is EXACTLY what is wrong with much of society. There must ALWAYS be someone to blame. Well sometimes there isn’t–or, in this case, it’s mis-assigned. I hate this weather we have, where it keeps getting up sometimes to 102’F. It’s ridiculous. The normal is around 94’F and it’s just about killing me & a lot of other people too. (Yes 102 does feel THAT different from 94.) I would LOVE to be able to blame someone for it, because then maybe something could be done to stop it–it is outrageous. But there isn’t anyone that I can blame and hold responsible for it, and force them to change it. I can vent outdoors to the sky “is there anybody up there? STOP THE INSANITY!” but that’s about the extent of it.


  74. Uly July 20, 2011 at 2:15 am #

    Dolly, I agree, in retrospect a stroller or a leash might’ve done a world of good. But managing a stroller on the bus is insanity (seriously) even without groceries with you, and a leash might not have restrained the child enough.

    Also, because the link is now going down periodically, here’s another one. No picture, though. (Also, does anybody live in that area? I can’t tell from the picture if the median is raised or not. It looks to me like it’s flat, but I could be wrong.)

  75. SKL July 20, 2011 at 2:19 am #

    Hels, the reason this is a “free range” issue is not because we all promote jaywalking. It’s because a mom has been prosecuted for an ACCIDENT as if she had committed a serious crime. I would not be so upset if they cited her for jaywalking – at least that would not break up her already sorely bruised family.

    To be cited for accidents is a fear we free-rangers sometimes have. Accidents happen to both free-ranged and helicoptered kids. My kids’ worst accidents always happen when they are doing perfectly ordinary kid things under supervision. But the minute someone notices that an accident happened (or even “could have” happened and didn’t) in a free-range situation, people want to prosecute.

    Who even knows if this mom is a free-range mom? The point is that her child died in a tragic accident and the reaction of the authorities was to look for ways to punish the mom for a pure accident. If that doesn’t scare you, you must not have young children.

    And besides, what do the authorities seek to gain by prosecuting bereaved parents for accidents? It’s not like the mother is likelier than others to commit the same “crime” again without a stiff sentence to teach her a lesson.

  76. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 2:21 am #

    The most awful part though is that she saw her child get mowed over by a car and so did the siblings. They are all going to have nightmares for the rest of their lives. I cannot imagine thinking about that happening to one of my kids without wanting to vomit. They do have my sympathy even if I may have done things differently.

    Like another poster I always cross at crosswalks and with the light. Even when no one is coming I will stand there and wait for that “Walk” to light up before I go. At least that way I know I did everything right and if I get hit, at least I know it was not my fault.

  77. Uly July 20, 2011 at 2:23 am #

    I would not be so upset if they cited her for jaywalking – at least that would not break up her already sorely bruised family.

    I would… because I’m no longer convinced she was doing that.

    Who even knows if this mom is a free-range mom? The point is that her child died in a tragic accident and the reaction of the authorities was to look for ways to punish the mom for a pure accident. If that doesn’t scare you, you must not have young children.

    Indeed. My mother, when I was a toddler, once had a flat on the side of a busy highway. And no sooner was she out trying to fix it than *I* was out of my seat trying to run into traffic. Three and four year old children do some stupid, stupid things. They get better as they get older, but punishing the parents for failing to anticipate that their kid might suddenly become weird and crazy? Pointless.

  78. LRH July 20, 2011 at 2:24 am #

    Now Hels I will agree with one about one thing–the jaywalkers who see a car coming & then proceed ANYWAY, and most of all, at a leisurely pace. I do think that’s disrespectful. To me, that’s a misappliaction of “pedestrians have the right of way.” When it’s done that way, it’s wrong. The people in the cars need to be able to get where they’re going without seemingly 30,000 interruptions, and jaywalkers who sashay across like they’re the only ones there, showing no regard for the drivers they’re inconveniencing by making them have to slow down–that’s wrong.

    However, I do disagree with the idea that not enough crosswalks isn’t an excuse. Wrong. You don’t give someone an impossible situation like that & then cry fowl “you broke the law”–well yes, only because you didn’t accommadate my reasonable situation enough. It’s on YOU (the city planners.) The expectation that I’d have to go way out of the way on tired feet just to satisfy some nit-picky law? Sorry, that’s horse manure. At a time like that, I could care less what the law is or says–and that’s the RIGHT attitude, by the way. When the law doesn’t respect what I’m going through and only cares about following silly legalisms and jumping through their hoops like I’m a freak in a circus show, they can stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine. If I have tired legs and feet and I see my destination right there–I’m going for it, and they can kiss whatever they like if they don’t approve of it. You deal me a bad hand and then expect me to still dance to your stupid song? Sorry, not going to do it.

    And ESPECIALLY since I don’t do the “leisurely” thing and I zoom across at just the right time to assure that not only I don’t get hit but ALSO that the driver isn’t having to slam on his-her brakes (because their time & convenience does matter too), then I say–leave me alone to get around however I need. Get off of my back. I don’t exist to serve the law, the law exists for MY benefit (and those around me in a reasonable balance).


  79. Uly July 20, 2011 at 2:24 am #

    Even when no one is coming I will stand there and wait for that “Walk” to light up before I go. At least that way I know I did everything right and if I get hit, at least I know it was not my fault.

    Funny, as a child I was taught to cross when the cars aren’t moving. Lights don’t reach out and hit people at 60mph. Cars do.

  80. SKL July 20, 2011 at 2:25 am #

    Honestly, I think in her shoes I would have gone to the stoplight. I would be too scared to tempt fate with all those kids and not enough hands to hang onto them. Aside from the fact that it teaches the kids to jaywalk in an unsafe situation.

    But the point is, she did not kill her child. She jaywalked. Maybe you could even say she endangered her kid by taking him into that busy street. But she did not kill her child. A drunk driver killed her child.

    As tragic as it is, children die in accidents every day. In hindsight, nearly all of these could have been prevented by the parents or adult in authority. That doesn’t turn an accident into manslaughter.

  81. Violet July 20, 2011 at 2:26 am #

    Please, every one here, post the story on the FB pages of the Equal justice initiative, the Southern Poverty law Center, the the NAACP, and the Southern Center for Human Rights. She needs clemency and these organizations know how to do it.

  82. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 2:26 am #

    I am really not trying to point fingers here at the mom. I feel so horribly for her but sometimes my brain just goes “WTH!?” with stuff like this.Why would you have three kids when you cannot afford a car to transport them in in a large unpedestrian friendly city? Or move somewhere where you cannot walk with your kids safely when you know you are going to have to walk? I know it was probably because they were lacking funds and I do feel sorry for them for that. Still, that is why you only have as many kids as you can afford. We cannot afford more than 2 and guess what? We are not having more. It just seems common sense.

  83. Becca O. July 20, 2011 at 2:29 am #

    Did she make the right choice maybe not but seriously this Guy who is on his 3rd hit & run gets 6 months and the mom gets 3 years. WTF

  84. SKL July 20, 2011 at 2:32 am #

    Dolly, even though life can get complicated with a bunch of kids, they are only little for a while, and most of them come out of it in one piece. For all we know, she had successfully taken her kids all around on the bus for years, before this incident happened. I’m a single mom with 2, and I’ve had some moments when I could have cried because of bad logistics, but overall we do pretty well. My mom had 4 close-in-age kids and no car, and I can remember us all walking to the shopping center, with various kids holding onto the stroller. She never felt like she had too many kids (and we never had a traffic accident). Can’t judge based on 1 minute of a person’s life.

  85. SKL July 20, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    Becca, OMG please tell me you didn’t just say she got 6x the sentence he got!?

  86. Uly July 20, 2011 at 2:33 am #

    Why would you have three kids when you cannot afford a car to transport them in in a large unpedestrian friendly city?

    Maybe when she had her children she had more money? Maybe she has limited access to an abortion clinic and her health insurance doesn’t cover birth control? Maybe she just doesn’t believe in that? (NOT a belief I favor, but people are welcome to whatever beliefs they like.)

    Or move somewhere where you cannot walk with your kids safely when you know you are going to have to walk?

    Maybe she had no choice. Maybe there are no easily walkable areas that she can afford in that area – and we can’t all pick up and move cross-country to manage it! Maybe she normally has a car, but it just broke the week before.

    We cannot afford more than 2 and guess what? We are not having more. It just seems common sense.

    Great, and what if next year your husband dies and you lose your job and one of your children gets seriously ill and you suddenly find you can no longer afford any children, much less the two you already have?

    Sometimes my brain goes WTF? too, at comments like that. It’s not just you this time, but it’s like some people live in perfect little worlds where everything goes according to plan and nobody’s circumstances ever change for the worse. That must be nice, but back here in the real world you’re criticizing somebody who may have, five years ago, thought the same thing you do, that poor people who have children deserve hardship for making bad choices.

    And by pinning everything on individual personal choices, you manage to punt the bigger issue – Atlanta has poor people! Atlanta has poor people with families! Atlanta has plenty of poor people with families who can’t afford to drive! Why isn’t the government in Atlanta working to improve the infrastructure so that it’s easier for people to get around without having to be chained into cars?

  87. gap.runner July 20, 2011 at 2:38 am #

    My sympathy goes to the mother. She is already feeling bad enough about her child’s death and then has a prison sentence on top of it. Jail time is not going to bring her child back.

    The mother is not the real criminal in this story. The real criminal is the person who got behind the wheel of a car while drunk and killed a child. It is also criminal that this mother had to take multiple buses to the grocery store because there wasn’t a convenient store in her area. If I were in her position having to wait for more than one bus with hungry, tired kids I’d also want to get them home as soon as possible. She was in a real lose-lose situation. Because her kid darted out into the street, she and her kids both lose each other for three years. But if she had left the kids at home on their own or with a sitter who may not have been very responsible, she might have been charged with neglect and had her kids taken away from her. That poor woman was in an awful bind because she was damned if she did and damned if she didn’t.

  88. Uly July 20, 2011 at 2:40 am #

    (And, for that matter, why don’t we demand cities restore the original infrastructure that was there BEFORE car companies bought up the public transportation and pushed local governments into making public transportation harder, encouraging cars? Free market my butt.)

  89. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 2:41 am #

    Uly: I am assuming you are being snarky but you do know how crosswalks work right? When the light is red for the cars, the “Walk” sign lights up for the walkers to cross. Even if there are no cars coming it is not a good idea to try to cross when the light is green since some cars fly or may not notice you. Just about every driver notices a red light though. That was my point. That even if no one is coming I follow the law to the letter and wait till I get the “Walk” sign. Looking to make sure cars are stopping is common sense and is so obvious there is no need to even mention it.

  90. Rich Wilson July 20, 2011 at 2:42 am #

    Why did this woman not choose a better paying job so she cuold afford a Toyota Highlander with DVD player?

  91. Uly July 20, 2011 at 2:45 am #

    I’m not being snarky. I was carefully taught that, because if you look at the light and not the traffic (which plenty of people DO do), you’re likely to get hit by a careless or stupid driver.

    As far as following the law to the letter goes, the law may be different than you think. You may not actually be required to cross at the light. It may not always be *safest* to cross at the light (especially if, say, other cars tend to turn there, and don’t always pay attention as they turn). You should cross where and when it is safe… and the light helps you determine that, but doesn’t always.

  92. meggles July 20, 2011 at 2:47 am #

    I wonder how much of the jury was going on snob bias. On the surface, this woman doesn’t sound particularly well-off. She lives in an apartment building and can’t afford to own a car, necessitating the use of bus travel. I lived in the South for 4 years, and there are so many layers of class issues. It was a real eye-opener for me. Also, I don’t know what it’s like in Atlanta, but the South isn’t pedestrian friendly *at all*. SC had the nation’s highest pedestrian fatalities, in large part because there were very few crosswalks, and motorists are not required by law to stop for pedestrians.
    I think what they really need to do is to blame the miserable pedestrian set-up they have. Not some harried mother trying to do her best. I have a car, and resources, and it’s hard having little kids! I do the best I can, but I still make mistakes. Just like every other parent out there.

  93. Carolyn Jayne July 20, 2011 at 2:47 am #

    re: the comment that having the city planners actually have crosswalks less than a mile apart would practically bankrupt the city. I’ve been sitting here thinking about it, and in both of the cities I’ve lived in (one with a great bus service, one with a terrible service), every single bus stop is within a block of a crosswalk, marked or unmarked (every corner counts as a crosswalk, you know). Somehow we’re not all losing out on our precious tax money by making the streets safer and more convenient for all of the people who are required to (or choose to) take the bus.

    I think there is an awful lot of class privilege going on in blaming the mother. If you’ve never had to drag three children home via a badly thought out bus system, well, you’ve never had to do it. There is simply no way of knowing what it’s like, waiting for ages if you miss a bus, being jostled and harrassed by other passengers, having to take a stupidly long route home because your city planners think it’s most efficient to have one bus winding through three dozen neighbourhoods, so it takes you an hour to complete a fifteen minute journey. And really, the kid darted out into traffic. What’s to stop him doing that from the sidewalk if they’d gone the mile out of their way? In fact, it probably INCREASES the chances that said kid would be bored and not paying attention.

  94. Kate July 20, 2011 at 2:48 am #

    “Why would you have three kids when you cannot afford a car to transport them in in a large unpedestrian friendly city?”

    Seriously Dolly, WTF? My family was comfortably middle class when my father was involved in a terrible accident that turned our lives upside down and caused us to slowly sink into poverty over the next five years.

    I suppose my parents should have drowned us in the bathtub when they could no longer “afford” my sister and I but thankfully they didn’t. I don’t think we would have been better off in foster care either even though my parents were committing the heinous, awful, terrible, unforgivable crime of being poor.

    WTF indeed.

  95. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 2:49 am #

    Uly: I know all about Atlanta, my Dad lives there. Well one reason we had kids was because we have parents who are well off and so we know no matter what if we were hard up our parents would help. That is not something I would want to do but it is there if we need it. If my husband and I were 100% on our own knowing we had no help from our family, we may have not had kids or waited longer to have them. We try to do the responsible thing so I do have my WTF! moments at people who do the exact opposite of that.

    As it is now, we have some savings and my husband has a good job and we both have a college education and we live frugally. We would not have had kids if we were unemployed, in debt etc. It would not be fair to our kids to do that to them.

  96. Jane July 20, 2011 at 2:50 am #

    I guarantee the only reason this poor woman was even charged in the first place, let alone convicted, is that she’s black. If this had happened to a middle-class white woman, she would have gotten nothing but sympathy.

    Yet another example of why we have to work harder to make America more pedestrian-friendly, especially as fewer and fewer people can afford the high price of gas.

  97. Uly July 20, 2011 at 2:51 am #

    For example, buoyed by my earlier education, I’m taking the time to look up the laws in my state. Here, from the .gov site:

    I must obey traffic control signals when crossing the street. (So, if I’m crossing at the light, I have to obey the light. Reasonable.)

    However, if there IS no light (traffic control signal), drivers must yield to me, especially if I’m in the crosswalk or in some danger. Doesn’t matter where I was crossing.

    Plus, every driver approaching an intersection (and it’s worth noting that this woman crossed at an intersection, albeit in another state with different laws) is required to yield to pedestrians… even without a crosswalk or a light. At an intersection, I’m not required to walk over to an intersection with a light to cross there. Doing so is going above and beyond what the law requires – and if that intersection is busier, it may be less safe.

    If there isn’t a crosswalk, signal, or sign at midblock locations, pedestrians yield to traffic. This seems to me to say that it is legally allowed to cross midblock. Again, that may be safest in some situations. Certainly there are situations where it is safest in my life – like when cars are turning, they are more likely to stop if you cross after the crosswalk rather than in it.


    I don’t know what state you’re in, nor the laws there. However, I would be wary of talking about how you always obey the law unless you know what the law IS. It may be that you are condemning people who also always obey the law.

  98. Wendy July 20, 2011 at 2:54 am #

    This story is absolutely tragic.

    The link would not work for me, so I haven’t seen the pic of the intersection someone else mentioned. I have no reference for this particular road. However I have crossed many multi-lane highways on foot, in varying amounts of traffic. I personally seriously disagree that crossing at the intersection is always the safest choice. In cities with constant traffic and large amounts of pedestrians, like NYC, it make sense to keep all the pedestrians at one place. Someone darting across a busy road that is wall-to-wall cars is sure to cause a chain-reaction accident.

    The multi-lane roads I usually cross are a different story. If you cross at the light, even with the crossing signal, you have to be concerned with potential traffic from several directions at once. You cannot trust the signal to keep you safe, too many drivers aren’t watching the signal, especially if a right-on-red is allowed.

    On the other hand, if you cross mid-block, the traffic flow is totally non-existent when the light is red. When the cars are stopped on one side, you can safely and easily make it to the median with absolutely NO cars coming anywhere near you. Depending on the timing of the lights, you may or may not have to wait until the light changes in the opposite direction before it’s safe to cross the other half of the road, again with absolutely NO cars. Both crossing only require attention to cars coming from ONE direction.

    And don’t tell me it’s not safe to wait in the median. Our larger intersections are designed with the pedestrian crossing time set so short that they have a separate post with crossing activation button in the median, because it’s practically impossible to get all the way across except at a dead run.

  99. Uly July 20, 2011 at 2:54 am #

    Well, Dolly, I’m glad you’re perfect. Most people aren’t willing to mooch off their parents, nor put off having children until they are certain that there will never ever ever be a financial upset in their lives.

    We would not have had kids if we were unemployed, in debt etc. It would not be fair to our kids to do that to them.

    But what if you DO lose your job? What then? What if you DO enter debt? What then? Do you really think that everybody who is jobless and in debt is in that situation chronically?

  100. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    Meggles is right about the South not being pedestrian friendly. Atlanta being a big city does have a lot of walkers in some areas but it is also very spread out and not all areas are probably great for walkers. That is just the way the South is made and I often wish they would improve it. That is why people from other areas have no idea that around here for most people biking or walking or even public transit is not always an option for Southerners.

    I don’t think the mother deserves to be charged with anything. I do think she could benefit from some counseling or parenting classes. Just to help her manage her life and help her deal with what has happened and give her some better coping strategies about getting her kids around safely. Maybe moving might help. Or buying even just a clunker car that can get to the store and back. There are places to live in the South where you can safely walk to the grocery store. I would know because I used to live where you could and it was not a high rent place. It was cheap rent. I also have some friends who don’t drive and manage. But that did require moving.

  101. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 2:59 am #

    Uly: No, I don’t think everyone in debt or unemployed with kids started out that way. I just know that many many do have kids when they are already unemployed and in debt. I know some personally.

  102. Uly July 20, 2011 at 3:04 am #

    I just know that many many do have kids when they are already unemployed and in debt. I know some personally.

    Well, go tell them they suck, then. You don’t know THIS woman, you don’t know HER situation, so don’t make general statements along the lines of “oh, I don’t get it, how could she have three kids she can’t afford???” when you don’t know her. It’s completely pointless.

    As far as “she should have parenting classes, she should move, she should buy an old car” (assuming she can afford to move, can afford an old car, can afford gas) – if you “wish things would change”, stop wishing and start working on it. Start pressuring your local government to make things more walkable. Start pressuring your local government to improve public transportation. Start pressuring your driving friends, the ones with cars, to be more pedestrian-aware and more conscious that there are walking people on the streets. Start trying to change things.

    And stop blaming this woman for doing a reasonable thing and trying to get home in the most direct way possible. She didn’t do anything wrong, she may not have done anything illegal, and if you’re saying “Oh, she should’ve done this instead of that” you’re removing blame from the people responsible for the urban design (or lack therof) that led her to make this choice in the first place.

  103. becky July 20, 2011 at 3:09 am #

    I think we killed the Transportation for America site!

  104. Uly July 20, 2011 at 3:09 am #

    (And btw, as a pro-choice individual, I am not just pro-the-choice-to-abort but also pro-the-choice-to-have-kids. Even if it’s not the choice I would make. Poor people have just as much of the fundamental human right* to reproduce as the rest of us.)

    *Human? Heck, the lowliest slug makes babies!

  105. Uly July 20, 2011 at 3:10 am #

    Not just us, becky, it got picked up on slashdot, so… yeah. But I posted another link up above.


  106. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 3:11 am #

    How do you know I don’t rally for more pedestrian friendly things? You are just assuming I don’t which makes you look like an ass.

  107. Carolyn Jayne July 20, 2011 at 3:12 am #

    Dolly: and? Some people are taught that having kids is the most valuable thing they can do in their lives. Some people are taught that it is their duty to procreate. Some people are not strong-willed enough to face the criticism and condescension they get if they say “I am choosing not to have kids” (believe me, if you commit the crime of saying that while female, some people will take it upon themselves to hurl abuse at you, “cold heartless selfish bitch” being probably the most common insult). Some people do not believe in birth control (not a belief I agree with, but I have the privileged of being very educated and coming from a liberal, irreligious family). Some people believe that god will provide. Some people just aren’t very smart, regardless of how much you try to educate them — last time I checked, stupidity isn’t a crime. And some people do start out in good circumstances and end up, due to poor health our outsourcing or whatever, in terrible places (especially in the USA, where welfare is a bit of a joke). Not everyone has the privilege of being as well off, intelligent, and aware as St. Dolly, you know.

  108. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 3:13 am #

    Uly: so someone who has no income, no money, no education, no home, no transportation, should have kids? Yeah thats a WTH! moment. I know they do all the time, but they certainly shouldn’t. Because you know babies need to have a roof over their heads, food to eat, clothes to wear, etc and that cost money! So if the parents have no money, then who ends up paying for it? Oh yeah, the taxpayers. No thank you. I am paying for my own kids and I really don’t want to pay for kids that I don’t get to hug and play with.

  109. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 3:18 am #

    It is one thing to have a good job and a nice place to live, etc and so you decide to have kids and then something happens and that changes. It is another to decide to have a kid and raise that kid when you are penniless from the get go. That is when I am going to have a problem with you.

    I wanted kids for years but never had them because I was not married, not finished with school and not out on my own yet with some savings built up. So I waited. I put off what I want. I am proud of myself that I waited till my circumstances were good before having kids. I have every right to be proud of myself for that. I also have every right to think others that have kids when they do not have good circumstances are selfish because ultimately it is others that will have to pay for it.

  110. Uly July 20, 2011 at 3:20 am #

    I didn’t say they should have kids, I said they have a right to have kids. And it’s not your job or your place to tell them not to, believe it or not.

    As for how I know – I don’t know. I do know that you’re sitting around criticizing this woman for having the gall to have children while poor, and acting as though her crossing the street at the intersection is a crime that she should be taught carefully never to do again. That doesn’t leave me with much faith in you.

  111. Uly July 20, 2011 at 3:22 am #

    Well, Dolly, you do have the right to think whatever you like.

    Happily, nobody asked your opinion. Nobody said “Dolly, tell us, out of nowhere, what you think of people who have children when they are poor! Tell us that, even though it’s got nothing to do with the subject at hand, and we don’t know if this woman was poor when she gave birth! Tell us, please!”

    And nobody is going to, so you can be a little more perfect keep it to yourself.

  112. Emiky July 20, 2011 at 3:24 am #

    My heart is breaking. How terrible this story is!

    As for some of the comments, geeze, there is an entire list we could create of things that could have been done/should have not been done, but I think at the time all was quite reasonable.

  113. Uly July 20, 2011 at 3:24 am #

    I think that last sentence missing a word. Sorry about that.

  114. pentamom July 20, 2011 at 3:24 am #

    “At least that way I know I did everything right and if I get hit, at least I know it was not my fault.”

    And that moral superiority get you….?

    I’m all for obeying reasonable laws and being cautious, as well. And if there’s any reasonable degree of traffic around, I also obey the walk signs even if it appears safe, because drivers often fail to yield (and on a turn, they ARE supposed to.) I will ignore them when there’s little to no traffic at all, and I can clearly see that no car could possibly get between me and the other side before I start. But I can’t imagine how “at least I did the right thing” is supposed to comfort you when you’re lying in a hospital bed, or worse.

  115. LRH July 20, 2011 at 3:25 am #

    Dolly How do I say this nicely? You aren’t God, in fact NONE of us are, and to think that it is up to US when a life is created is the absolute height of lunacy. It has NOTHING to do with “being responsible.” No, I’m not a “quiver full” type of thinker, but I DO think that thoughts like these–who has kids, why does that family had a child but that family doesn’t, they’re more deserving, why should that family have a child but I can’t when I would be a better mother–etc, I would submit that there are NO answers to these questions because we are not meant to understand or be in control regarding ANY of it.

    I love my mother NOT because of how good of a job she did, but because she is my mother. Biology is relevant. She didn’t do the best job, sometimes even now she’s a witch when one of her moods overcomes her common sense. But it’s not up to me to choose who my mother is, nor is it up to her to choose who her son is–and it’s not up to anyone to say that I don’t deserve her because she’s not as perfect as someone else would’ve been. She was MEANT to be my mother, and no matter whether I like it or not (or anyone else does), it’s what was meant to be, and I am NOBODY to question it, and all others are nobody to question it either.

    And anyone who thinks they SHOULD be, or that we should be, is trying to “play God” in matters that are well out of their ability to understand and/or comprehend any of them.


  116. Jynet July 20, 2011 at 3:27 am #

    Yes Dolly, we all know that you are all for eugenics.

    The point is that YOU HAVE NO IDEA what this woman’s situation was a year ago, or six months ago or tomorrow.

    You don’t know if she left an abusive husband who got everything but the kids and she was ok with that because at least they weren’t being beat on anymore. You don’t know if she spent every last dime on the middle kid’s cancer treatments, or on paying back her student loans for a degree that “guaranteed” her a job, but didn’t because the economy tanked the year she graduated. It might be any of these things, or a million more, or it might be none of them, she might be a 3rd generation welfare mom, but:


    So until you do, how about you save your judgement? There are thousands of people in the world who wouldn’t have been born if everyone had been following your “if you are poor don’t have kids” rule. Including (off the top of my head) Oprah. And I can’t think of many people who don’t think that she is successful (if they believe in her politics or not).

  117. pentamom July 20, 2011 at 3:30 am #

    “As for some of the comments, geeze, there is an entire list we could create of things that could have been done/should have not been done, but I think at the time all was quite reasonable.”

    Bingo. All this coulda shoulda stuff is something you would not be hearing if the people making those comments were the sister or best friend of the lady WHOSE CHILD JUST DIED.

    And Hels, really? NO SYMPATHY? Even if she did something objectively dumb (and I don’t think she did) you have NO SYMPATHY for someone whose child just died, who then gets sent a sympathy card from the state of Georgia in the form of a JAIL SENTENCE?

    I can’t fathom what kind of person it takes to say “no sympathy” in this situation, regardless of how inclined you might be to be critical of her decision.

  118. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 3:36 am #

    I think that using Oprah as a good example of someone the world would be so bad off if they had never been born is a poor poor example. I do not care for Oprah at all.

    No we CAN control if we become parents or not. We CAN use birth control. We CAN have an abortion if we want to. We CAN give our baby up for adoption if we want to. We CAN decide to let someone else we know raise the baby if we are unfit to raise it. We CAN turn the baby over to the state. So yes, you 100% CAN choose to become a parent and parent a child. So you then have to live with those decisions.

    I am not saying this mom is or is not responsible for getting into a situation that unfortunately ended up being the death of her child. I and other posters up above if you looked, pointed out it could.

    And yes, Uly. I do advocate for pedestrians regularly since I have mentioned numerous times on this blog that I used to be a big pedestrian. I am involved in a group right now that is trying to get Rails to Trails built.

  119. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 3:38 am #

    ps I am not judging this mom and I you look above I never said I did. I said I felt immense sympathy for her and her kids and hope that the state will offer something like counseling to help them. I also said that she does not deserve to go to jail for this. You are getting me mixed up with other posters.

  120. Uly July 20, 2011 at 3:49 am #

    So yes, you 100% CAN choose to become a parent and parent a child. So you then have to live with those decisions.

    Yes, sure – but it is not YOUR choice, Dolly, whether or not OTHER people become parents. You don’t get to choose whether they do, and you don’t get to choose whether they don’t, and framing a child’s life in terms of “my taxpayer dollars!” is petty and crass.

    You are getting me mixed up with other posters.

    Maybe, it wouldn’t be the first time. Let’s see!

    I don’t think the mother should have been charged but some parenting lessons might need to be taken.

    That’s your comment questioning her ability to parent.

    Even when no one is coming I will stand there and wait for that “Walk” to light up before I go. At least that way I know I did everything right and if I get hit, at least I know it was not my fault.

    That’s your comment implying that if somebody did NOT cross at the light (even if the law does not require you to do so, which seems to be the case in Georgia) and gets hit, it is their fault.

    Why would you have three kids when you cannot afford a car to transport them in in a large unpedestrian friendly city? Or move somewhere where you cannot walk with your kids safely when you know you are going to have to walk? I know it was probably because they were lacking funds and I do feel sorry for them for that. Still, that is why you only have as many kids as you can afford. We cannot afford more than 2 and guess what? We are not having more. It just seems common sense.

    That’s your comment questioning her family planning and making assumptions about her situation prior to having children.

    do think she could benefit from some counseling or parenting classes. Just to help her manage her life and help her deal with what has happened and give her some better coping strategies about getting her kids around safely.

    That’s your second comment questioning her capabilities as a parent and also implying that her choice to cross the street at the intersection was bad.

    I also have every right to think others that have kids when they do not have good circumstances are selfish because ultimately it is others that will have to pay for it.

    And that would be your comment saying that people who have children in situations where you would choose not to have children are selfish.

    Gosh, I can’t see why any of us got the idea that you’re judgmental!

  121. Jynet July 20, 2011 at 3:50 am #

    No Dolly, I am not mixing you up with other posters. Saying “I’m not really trying to point fingers… but…” does not mean you are not judging this mom. It means you know it isn’t right to do it, but you are doing it anyway.

    Dolly, on July 20, 2011 at 02:26 said:
    I am really not trying to point fingers here at the mom. I feel so horribly for her but sometimes my brain just goes “WTH!?” with stuff like this.Why would you have three kids when you cannot afford a car to transport them in in a large unpedestrian friendly city?

    Dolly, on July 20, 2011 at 03:36 said:
    I think that using Oprah as a good example of someone the world would be so bad off if they had never been born is a poor poor example. I do not care for Oprah at all.

    Point of fact: I didn’t say the world couldn’t live without her. I said she was a successful person. And, by the way, I noted that not everyone would agree with her politics, which I (surprise) figured you wouldn’t.

  122. Tim Gill July 20, 2011 at 4:19 am #

    Really pleased to see you blogging on this story Lenore. It is truly shameful, I think. I hope your readers will get the take-home message: building a child-friendly, free range society is way too big a job for parents alone. Far too many areas are so car-dominated and hostile to pedestrians that they literally imprison children and families. The powers that be have to turn towns & cities around. Do check out blogs and writing on urban design and promoting walkable, cyclable, livable communities, and if you can, start to take action. (I have written on this – there are links from my website.) It may take a generation, but it has to start now.

  123. Tim Gill July 20, 2011 at 4:22 am #

    One more thought, and a response to the above. Bottom line: if your kid (or for that matter your grandma) makes a mistake and steps a few feet away from the kerb in a residential neighbourhood, they shouldn’t pay with their life.

  124. Jen Connelly July 20, 2011 at 4:24 am #

    Wait, since when did owning a car become a prerequisite to have kids? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

    We are a one car family that means when my husband is at work I’m without a car. It means if we need something at the grocery store I walk the 1+ mile there and back (in some places without sidewalks) sometimes with my kids (usually with at least 2 of them since they aren’t in school). That means when there is something going on at the kids’ school 2 miles away I can’t go because 4 miles is a long round trip for a 5yo to walk in the pouring rain.

    We were also a one car family when I was growing up. At first it was because my mother didn’t have a license. We took buses (in Chicago). She did her grocery shopping by bus with 1 or 2 kids in tow. Went to the laundromat, went to the park, everywhere by bus. That’s not an easy task even in a mass transit friendly city like Chicago.

    Last summer I was completely without a car for 3 months (my husband moved to another state and took the car with him). I was on foot with 4 kids and in my 3rd trimester. I had to walk or take the bus everywhere. I hadn’t had to do that since high school (when I took the city bus home from school every day). Most of the time I had my 4yo with me in the blazing heat (not unlike what they are having this week there). It SUCKED. I noticed signs on the bus that ALL strollers and shopping carts MUST be FOLDED while on the bus.

    WTF! Talk about family unfriendly. I can’t imagine trying to go grocery shopping by bus with small children. You would have to take them out of the stroller, fold it up and somehow wrangle the kids, bags of groceries (some probably melting in the heat) and a stroller onto the bus, pay, keep the seated, quiet and keep all of that stuff out of other people’s way. Nice. Maybe doable with 1 kid but not with multiple small kids. It’s the reason I never went anywhere on public transportation when my kids were in strollers (I had 3 kids under 3–could have never taken the CTA like that).

    As for the street crossing. From what I understand this woman crossed at an intersection just not one marked with a crosswalk and had no light. That’s legal in Chicago. It’s not jaywalking if it’s at an intersection. In fact when I was a kid you were taught how to cross at those busy unmarked corners.

    First you watch traffic coming in the direction closest to you. When it looks like you can make it to the median you go for it as quickly as you can. Then you wait, hopefully out of the way of people wanting to get in the left turn lane. Then you watch traffic mostly in the direction you want to cross next but you also keep an eye on traffic from the other direction (that you just crossed) in case some moron can’t see you standing there in the middle of the street. And when it looks clear you run for it.

    This was one of those common sense, street smart things our parents showed us and I was in the process of teaching my kids (although I preferred to cross at the lights on those 5-7 lane streets since I had 4 kids with me). If you didn’t learn that skill you were stuck walking 1/4 mile down to a light just to walk 1/4 mile back to the street you were just on. A 1/2 mile walk to cross a freaking street. Ridiculous. And drivers in Chicago aren’t ones to stop for pedestrians. You’re lucky if they stop for you in a marked cross walk. I was almost hit crossing at a stop sign when I had the right of way (meaning the guy wasn’t even at the stop sign when I left the curb after waiting for the other traffic to clear first). He blew through the sign, almost hit me in the middle of the crosswalk and then honked at me like it was my fault. Geesh. Luckily I didn’t have any of my kids with me.

    Keeping track of multiple kids, traffic and bags while crossing a busy street is stressful. You hope your kids understand the danger they are in and stay close and behave but sometimes they make stupid judgement calls. I used to hold 3 kids hands at once and we’d get half way across the street and 2 of them would bolt for the sidewalk. No matter how many times I told them there could be a car that didn’t see the stop sign or light and hit them (crossing legally at a light/marked crosswalk).

    In fact were almost hit in PA crossing on the light on a 1 lane 1 way road (actually the highway through town but the speed limit was like 30mph). There was only 1 lane with parking on both sides of the street but people always cut into the right side parking to turn (which was illegal). We were crossing on the light in front of a semi and just as we stepped out from the other side of it some idiot in a van came barreling up and misses us by an inch.

    If I hadn’t been aware of the danger from morons like that I wouldn’t have looked first and had a split second to grab the kids and yank them back before we were all slammed. And he honked at us. Not to mention in PA vehicles must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks whether there is a stop sign or light there or not.

    This poor woman is already paying the ultimate price but the only person guilty is the drunk driver. And possibly the jury that convicted her.

  125. Lollipoplover July 20, 2011 at 4:36 am #

    Trying to follow your posts and logic is like following the path of Billy from the Family Circus cartoon.

    This accident has nothing to do with income, race, reproductive rights, or car ownership. If you change the mother to Ivanka Trump, returning to her NYC apartment with new baby and siblings in tow,(I know, there are no siblings but bear with me here), and one of her kids were struck by a car, is it any more (or less) her fault?

  126. Soapbox0916 July 20, 2011 at 4:39 am #

    @Dolly I am outraged that you even suggest that someone needs to own a car before having a kid.

    Well, I don’t own a car by choice. Did you ever consider that? I also happen to be single with no kids. However, if I ever decide to have a child, whether or not I own a car is not on my list of deciding factors beforehand as to whether I choose to have a child or not.

    The fact is that too many think that everyone should have to have a car to get somewhere is the real problem. It is ridiculous that we think everyone should own a car. Communities used to be a lot more friendly to walkers and communities also used to be more condensed, and therefore also more friendly to free rangers.

    I have crossed worse points in order to get to from one place to another, granted I do it without kids, but still a little bit dangerous. I am actually a cautious person, and I take my chances within reason. If daylight, I generally refuse to call a cab for a few blocks or to walk like two miles out of my path. I love walking. Especially if I can see where I am headed, I want to be able to just walk there. Walkers and public transportation riders have rights and should not be thrown in jail as a result. I get the point about jaywalking, but there needs to be balance that people should be able to walk places too.

    Why is it that the rights of car drivers should trump everyone else?

  127. Emily (NY) July 20, 2011 at 4:53 am #

    To me (and yes, I realize I’m reiterating what others have said, but for some, this point seems to be getting lost in the shuffle), the real issue is this: a young child wrestled free from his/her mother, darted in front of a car and was killed… and the MOTHER is being blamed for it because, as a society, we seem to believe that “accidents” don’t happen any more. Instead, we seem to feel that parents should be omniscient, omnipresent, psychics who can not only anticipate our children’s every moves, but also entirely prevent the undesirable ones from occurring. In every. Single. Circumstance.

    (I’m purposely ignoring that this was hardly an “accident” because the child did not die when s/he, say, tumbled off of a bridge after breaking free from the mother, but instead was killed by a drunk driver… nothing “accidental” about that, in my book… but, really, the Free-Range point here, I think, is about how absurd it is that parents are somehow supposed to be “in control” of our children at ALL TIMES.)

    Yes, other factors came into play here, and can be argued about and discussed until the cows come home. But, really, if the child had darted away IN the crosswalk and an was killed, would the mother still have been held responsible and prosecuted? Sadly, I’m strongly suspecting yes.

    Even if not, however, there is NO REASON to blame the MOTHER for the child darting away. Hold her responsible for crossing where she did? Yes. She made that choice and, supposedly, broke the law, and if there’s an appropriate jaywalking citation for that, so be it (though, in her shoes, I may well have done exactly as she had done). But she was NOT responsible for her child running off, nor was she responsible for the driver who KILLED her child… and to charge her as such is really scary to me.

    The very IDEA that all parents should – or even CAN – be in full control of their children at all times is not only absurd, it’s impossible. If anyone has managed this feat every minute of every day, then my hat’s off to you… but in my experience – and in the experience of virtually every single other parent, guardian, teacher, or caregiver I’ve ever witnessed – it is NOT POSSIBLE to remain in full control of your kids ALL the time. To think so is ludicrous. To PROSECUTE parents is terrifying.

    Kids are slippery and quick, and they have – shockingly! – minds of their own, and controlling their every move is an insanity-inducing proposition. (Hence, I realize – yes, why perhaps this mother might have crossed at the cross-walk… but, again, in her shoes, I truly don’t criticize her for making the choice she did. And even if she HAD crossed in the cross-walk, there is NO guarantee that her child wouldn’t have broken free, nor that the drunk driver would have stopped. So… back to my point… )

    It starts very, very early… Have you not been holding your baby when s/he has reared back unexpectedly in your arms, and you’ve almost dropped him/her? What if you accidentally DID drop your baby… and your baby died… Would prosecuting you make ANY sense?? Have you never been holding your kid’s hand – tightly! – only to have her sweaty little fingers slip free from yours and, because she’s been pulling away from you (as, you know, kids are wont to do), she falls down and hurts herself? Are YOU to blame for such an accident??

    What if your kids are older, well old enough to walk beside you as you cross the street – which is a good thing, because your hands are full (which, sometimes, they are, even when you’re crossing a street… and sometimes, your kids need to be with you when your hands are full as you cross the street because, well, they just DO because this is, you know, LIFE…) – and your older, should-know-better kid reaches down to pick up a quarter in the middle of the road… and is hit by a car… Is that YOUR fault??

    If letting it go is simply not an option (although why not, I have no idea…), give this mother a fine for jaywalking. Cite her for not crossing in an intersection. If there was a mistake, THAT was the mistake. Her child darting away was not HER mistake — that’s simply what happens, sometimes, when you’re a parent. It doesn’t make you a bad parent, nor does it make your kid a bad kid; it simply makes you human, and to prosecute her for it not only adds insult to egregious injury, but is also scary for all of us other human parents out there.

  128. Emily (NY) July 20, 2011 at 4:54 am #

    Case in point:
    My daughter was two years old when we were standing in the elevator. I was holding her hand, with my other hand on the stroller which held my 2 month-old, when the door opened and – to my utter shock – my daughter yanked her hand from mine and ran out. She had never done so before and it was not in her general temperament to run from me, so I was not expecting it at all — hence, I didn’t have my vice-grip on (we were, after all, in an empty elevator going 2 floors to another floor of the upscale mall where we were attending story time, so the flight risk seemed minimal), and away she went. Although I yelled to her to return, stuck my foot and arm between the doors, and frantically pushed the “open” button, the doors nevertheless closed before me, and the elevator continued on… leaving my daughter, alone, on another floor. (Because of the stroller and the way it was positioned, I couldn’t just run out after her, either, unless I wanted to strand my 2 month-old on the elevator.)

    When the elevator reached the next floor, I ran out as fast as I could and weighed my options: I could either wait – who knows how long – for another elevator to take me to the upper level, 2 month-old in tow… or I could leave the 2 month-old behind, in an effort to reach my older daughter as quickly as possible. Seeing a security guard 10 feet away, I chose option B. Asking him to watch my baby, I raced up the stairs and found my daughter, happy as a clam, standing outside the elevator. Just as I was about to admonish her for running away from me – and for scaring me like that! – a lady, who’d been standing there the whole time, leaned over to me and said, “You know, you should NEVER have allowed your daughter to get off the elevator without you. What kind of parent ARE you?”

    These days, after this blog, I’d have a good response… Back then, I simply took my daughter by the hand and high-tailed it back to the security guard, who was chatting away with my perfectly content baby.

    Of COURSE I didn’t want my toddler wandering off without me. But I’m human. It happened. Just as it happens all day, every day, to parents everywhere, because kids are simply not controllable all the time, in every situation. To reiterate: prosecuting parents when their kids run from them is not only wrong, but terrifying.

  129. kris July 20, 2011 at 4:58 am #

    Casey Anthony gets away with murder (or atleast being a horrible mother and not reporting a drown death), parents who forget their kids in their cars are not tried because “they have suffered enough already” but she is tried and conviced of manslaughter for making a poor choice. I’m sure that she is being punished more in her own mind than anything that the legal (it’s not a justice system) can do to her but we are also punishing the other children as well by taking away their mother. Sometimes a mistake is JUST a mistake and punishing someone is not going to change that mistake.

  130. Carolyn Jayne July 20, 2011 at 5:02 am #

    Kris: I agree with you that this is a ridiculous miscarriage of justice, but re the thing about parents who forget their children in cars, you might want to read this article (warning: it’s depressing). That, too, is a tragic mistake and error of the faulty human mind, not neglect. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/27/AR2009022701549.html?sid=ST2009030602446

  131. Amanda Scott July 20, 2011 at 5:39 am #

    I believe they went to far in convicting this mother. I too take the bus with my kids all the time and know how unfriendly the streets can be for us car-less folks…but I would never attempt to cross a 4 or 5 lane highway…not ever…not even if I was by myself

  132. Uly July 20, 2011 at 5:45 am #

    Amanda, she was going to have to cross it at some point. There or at the light, she couldn’t just stay on that side of it forever.

  133. Ismene July 20, 2011 at 5:50 am #

    Two comments…

    1) I actually see the Casey Anthony hysteria and this case through the same lens – prosecutorial overzealousness. If the prosecutors had just gone with a different (lesser) set of charges, i.e. child neglect, she would probably have been found guilty. Instead, they overreached and she wound up walking. As for this Atlanta mom… do I even need to explain why prosecutorial overreach applies in this case?

    2) I, like Valerie, also mourn the loss of common sense. But what strikes me as outrageous is that *common sense* didn’t prevail in the case in Atlanta. No one in the prosecutor’s office seemed to have had any doubts about the appropriateness of the charges and the jurors didn’t see how the charges were a real stretch – THAT is a lack of common sense, as is all the talk on these boards about ‘personal responsiblity.’ A disclaimer: I am a conservative; I’m deeply religious, pro-life, and a borderline libertarian on economic matters. As such, I am usually very sympathetic to arguments about taking personal responsibility seriously in our political and economic systems. But I 100% agree with many other posters here that, as a society, we have lost our marbles if we think that criminalizing parental MISTAKES is morally appropriate. We didn’t used to expect perfection from parents. Now, the societal expectation is that you are your child’s personal bodyguard 24/7 and, furthermore, we indict and convict parents for their lack of perfection. In my mind, this case is a perfect example of government abuse of power and I actually find it strange that more conservatives aren’t sympathetic both to the view that this case is an abuse of gov’t power, and to free-range parenting more generally, given that we are always talking about “the good ol’ days”… Somehow we forget that in the good ol’ days we didn’t put parents in prison for making mistakes.

  134. LRH July 20, 2011 at 5:52 am #

    This posting is a bit “late,” but anyway.

    Yes darb, cross-walks & stops etc most certainly should be closer than a mile apart. That’s ridiculous, end of discussion about that aspect–it’s just RIDICULOUS. It is also ridiculous for you to paint free-range as being “passing the buck” and “lazy parenting.”
    Frankly–we don’t need that attitude of “white horse” superiority
    around here. Free-speech issues aside–save it.

    Free-ranging ISN’T about laziness or passing the buck, and your
    mis-characterization as such is, frankly, a large part of what’s wrong
    with society nowadays. If something goes wrong, no matter what the
    circumstances, blame the parents. Hell, if you were vacationing at the lake & the Loch Ness monster showed up & killed your child, it’s your fault–you should’ve known the Loch Ness monster was there. It’s exactly what Lenore was properly addressing in her prior posting. What a dumbed-down way of thinking all of that is.

    (And by the way, it’s not “we’ll people get hit” unless you mean to
    say “we will” people get hit” versus “well people get hit.” Maybe I
    should accuse you of laziness in your English.)

    I used to live in Tucson AZ, about 500,000 persons, and on occasion took the bus. Most of the time we had a car, but we weren’t exactly comfortable financially, the cars were often-times borderline. Typically after a year or so they’d give up the ghost & it would take us a month or so to get another one. In one stretch, we were car-less for nearly 6 months (although that was an extreme-unusual case). During such times, we had to get around on the bus system.

    And yes–it is horrible. We had no kids to deal with, and it was STILL
    horrible–I can barely fathom how bad it is for people dealing with
    kids at the same time. It seems as though you run like a jackrabbit
    from your home to the stop but you still just BARELY miss the bus and have to wait for the next one. On busy roads that may only be 10-15 minutes, on other roads–it can easily be 45 minutes. If you are going east-to-west and then have to go north-south, you then have to wait for the bus and “transfer” and yes, it’s not unusual for you to get to that stop & find out you barely missed the connector and now have to wait for nearly 30-odd minutes–in 107′F temperatures, by the way–for the next one.

    It is NOT a fun way to get around, I can promise you. Once we got a
    car, it was like we had won the lottery. It really does make THAT much of a difference.

    As a non-parent at the time, I can tell you–I jaywalked all the time
    and could’ve cared less. Why should I have to walk a mile out of the
    way when I can see my destination right there–and I had the fast legs to quickly hop-skip over WITHOUT slowing down the traffic or
    endangering myself. It is a HUGE time-saver, and yes–that IS relevant, it is NOT “lazy.” I can certainly imagine I would’ve done so with a child.

    The problem here is we have too many people like darb on that jury, and not enough people like Lenore Skenazy, Donna, Uly, SKL etc. The woman is suffering enough, she was trying to do the best she could in a world not designed as it should be. Shame on you darb, for your attitude.


  135. SKL July 20, 2011 at 5:53 am #

    Dolly, if the whole world made decisions the way you think they should, most people would not have babies, and when you got old and infirm, there would be no way the younger generation could produce enough to support your generation.

    Besides, life would be a lot less interesting if the only people having babies were the awesome, financially stable people.

    And finally, history teaches us that usually, even when nothing goes according to plan, things have a way of working out in the long run.

    We don’t know if poverty played a part here or not. Even if she was poor, that does not mean the same thing could not happen to someone who wasn’t poor. I have plenty of cash in savings. But when I take my kids out, I try to do as much walking as possible, since it’s better for the environment, my pocketbook, and our health. So when I go to my favorite shopping mecca, I am often walking quite a ways with my girls from one shop to another. Across mega parking lots, major highways, etc. There have been plenty of times when we could have been hit if there were a drunk driver whizzing by and my kid decided to do something foolish. The difference is, nobody would be saying I shouldn’t have had kids since I couldn’t afford to take proper care of them. (Though they might say I shouldn’t have adopted 2 kids as a single mom, but that argument would fail just as fast.)

    I think you do a lot of “WTF, why doesn’t s/he think like me.” That’s going to get you in trouble someday. I’m thinking, when you get involved in group parent stuff at your kids’ elementary school, or some such experience. Or, maybe you are one of those people who judge folks you see on paper but appreciate the differences among folks you actually meet. My grandma was like that. It was kinda funny, but then, she was an old lady decades ago. Nowadays folks expect a little more respect for differing points of view.

  136. Ariel July 20, 2011 at 5:54 am #

    This has gone far afield, but since fear-mongering is what this site is partially about I just wanted to throw out that the single greatest killer of children aged 5 to 9 is …. wait for it….automobile accidents!!! So, as a responsible parent, I should have my children before I own a car and since some of those deaths are pedestrian then no child of mine shall ever approach a street. Of course, this was sarcasm directed at Dolly (dear, you stepped in it on this site and it’s going to be hard to wipe it off).

    However, my real point is that this site called this stat ( if there were 10 million children aged 5 to 9 in 2002 then it represented 6 thou of a percent), as well as 1/8 of 3000 deaths, “preventable deaths”. The mindset that in a large population all accidental deaths are preventable is the problem, they aren’t. It can’t happen because we are fallible. It can’t happen because the cost would equal the national debt. And it isn’t the fault of any parent unless they were beyond a reasonable doubt negligent. She wasn’t, but there’s the rub, because in today’s world reasonable doesn’t mean what it did 40 years ago. Really, your eyes weren’t on your child every second? How could you look away and put your child at risk? You relaxed your hand for a second? How could you, after all, I never would!!!

    The verdict isn’t the fault of the jury, as they were instructed on the letter of the law, however convoluted.

    I hope the verdict is overturned on appeal.

  137. SKL July 20, 2011 at 5:57 am #

    Yes Ariel, and one thing a car-less family rarely has to worry about is the tragic “goodbye syndrome,” where a tot runs into the driveway upon realizing their parent/sibling is backing out, and gets run over. Yes, one could (ridiculously) argue that families without cars should not have children since that puts their kids at risk.

  138. LRH July 20, 2011 at 5:59 am #

    As a PS, regarding Ismene mentioned the “Casey Anthony hysteria,” let me tell you–it sure has been that. The extreme overboard level of attention this case has received was even more annoying than what happened with JonBenet Ramsay some 15 years ago. No way in the WORLD this case should be receiving the extreme over-the-top level of attention it has been receiving.


  139. Ismene July 20, 2011 at 6:01 am #

    Ariel said: “The mindset that in a large population all accidental deaths are preventable is the problem, they aren’t. It can’t happen because we are fallible.”

    Yes, EXACTLY!!! Why is our society so hell-bent on eliminating all forms of risk? It’s simply NOT possible. Accidents are going to happen. We will decide to take risks and sometimes this will backfire (e.g. getting into your car is one such risk, jaywalking is another). Why should we put people in jail for taking a risks?

    Also, sign me up as one more person who is sympathetic to the view that this woman did nothing wrong.

  140. Soapbox0916 July 20, 2011 at 6:01 am #

    @Amanda Scott

    I actually have crossed five lane plus highways by myself in multiple cities. Even when I travel, I walk when I can. There are road situations that I won’t cross, but I have crossed highways similar to the picture. I have crossed much worse points, but being careful, I did not even think too much of it.

    The problem is the kid got free and darted in front of car. This could have happened in a driveway or in front of one’s own house. Kids always seem to make everything more dangerous. LOL

    I honestly consider driving a car to be more dangerous. I am serious. I hate driving even though I have a driver’s license. Driving a car scares me. Risk is sometimes what we get used too.

    I was thinking that not only are kids not allowed to be free range any more, but adults are making decisions that keep from adults from being free-range equivalent too.

  141. Diane July 20, 2011 at 6:18 am #

    I feel terrible when a parent looses a child and then is criminalized for it. Have we no compassion?

  142. Ariel July 20, 2011 at 6:26 am #


    And my point was that arguing that one shouldn’t have children until you have a car (thus protecting them from pedestrian v. car accidents, but not the “goodbye syndrome”) is ridiculous. I was addressing Dolly’s point as to where you should be economically before having children (the human race wouldn’t have made it through the last ice age). I tend not to use /sarc, though the hint should be clear.

    My first child was a runner. Do I need to explain further?

    (And as an aside, my family has gone through about every damn thing you could think of: from loss of child in womb; horrible back surgery and type 1 diabetes for my oldest child; near death and six days in hospital for same; ADHD and molestation for my youngest (I have absolutely nothing to do with one side of my family because of how they acted, but I allow my children to see their grandparents now that one can drive); as well two chronically ill parents. But s**t happens, life is tragedy as well good fortune, thank you Shakespeare. We as a society need to understand that not everything is preventable and therefore people aren’t always responsible for bad things, except the driver in this case.)

    Again, I hope the verdict is overturned on appeal.

  143. olympia July 20, 2011 at 6:59 am #

    Jen Connelly-

    I can see where the no stroller or cart rule on the bus rule makes sense, even though it obviously sucks (and is borderline impossible) to have to handle folded up stroller/cart/children/grocery bags. Rolling mechanisms in the bus aisles can block the walkways. I would hope that bus drivers would let common sense prevail and allow unfolded strollers when the bus is near empty, but I can see why they wouldn’t. Obviously, having to stroller fold while shepherding children and merchandise sucks.

    I definitely see a lot of class bias in the case Lenore referenced. Not that this in anything new- in the U.S., we tend to worship cars and the people who drive them, and tell people who aren’t drivers that, well, they deserve what they get. Have to walk in dangerous conditions? Well, it’s your fault for not having a car! In my small town, we were told that cleaning off the sidewalks in the winter was not a municipal responsibility. It was supposed to be the job of property owners. Which was fine, but property owners WEREN’T cleaning off the sidewalks in front of their places, and the town wasn’t making them. I have never felt more like a second class citizen than I did when I was walking on the street, dodging cars, for days on end. I should add that the town I live in is tiny, a mile square, and a lot of kids walk to school, as they well should. This town was perfectly happy to let the kids dodge traffic, this same town that instituted a school-wide peanut ban because one student was allergic. We really aren’t great at interpreting risk here.

  144. Rich Wilson July 20, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    Strollers on busses:
    I witnessed a family from France (limited English) have an argument with a bus driver about a stroller. As the argument continued with a supervisor at the terminal, I found the issue was safety regulations regarding the aisle being blocked. Standing passengers are ok because if the bus must be evacuated, presumably they can move themselves off. Anything that might get in the way of people moving down the aisle is not.

    Would be nice if they had seats that could quickly swing up to allow a stroller to be parked in a seat.

  145. Cheryl W July 20, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    Dolly, your points about “choosing” to be a parent…all the stuff about giving up the baby and such, well you forget about the most important reason why women, no matter their situation, have such a hard time making that a “choice.”

    Biology. Hormones can triumph over situation time after time. Women who can go against it (and give up a baby) are truly heroic. I would have killed had someone tried to take my newborn. Still would. Oh, and what about the fact that for many, many women, once you have been pregnant it is much easier to get pregnant again? And in case you don’t know, birth control, even condoms, are expensive. People don’t leave around those bowls of “3 for Free” now that we have effective treatment for HIV.

  146. meggles July 20, 2011 at 7:41 am #

    I don’t know anything about the woman in this case, so it’s not fair for me to presume certain things about her. However, I do have to agree with Dolly that people should try to be in the best possible position before having kids. This doesn’t mean you have to be rich, just have a job and a place to live. Yes, terrible things happen, and people can lose their jobs (especially in this economy), but a person’s future kids deserve the best start they can get. If more people kept their pants zipped or used birth control (admittedly, harder to get if you don’t have insurance), we wouldn’t have such problems with poverty. I don’t think it’s mean to wish that people wouldn’t perpetuate the cycle of teenagers/unwed mothers having babies, and their kids doing the same. It’s just common sense. Don’t procreate unless you have a good chance of providing.

  147. Elle July 20, 2011 at 7:58 am #

    This really is a horrible tragedy, and I feel for the mother. I’ve been hit by a car at a crosswalk, so I know first hand that even that isn’t completely safe. I hope they plan to appeal.

    On the topic of planning when to have children: Accidents do happen, even with birth control, unless someone is completely celibate. Even though condoms and the pill together are 99% effective (or something like), there still is the 1% chance that they could fail (seems birth control is dodgy in my family, too). And many mothers will want to keep their children and start a family at that point, even if it’s not optimal.

  148. Ariel July 20, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    Have babies when you can afford them (food, clothing, shelter, and a playful parent with stamina). Have teenagers when you can afford them (everything else not listed previously, and they’ll ignore you so playfulness is less important). Affluent societies make a mistake on what children need; adult needs projected on the child. I grew up poor, but so needed less and had a lot more fun. I still remember the dairy farm I walked pass to my great-grandparents at seven, about a mile and a half to two. I adored them, so it was a pleasurable walk. This in the San Gabriel Valley in 1962.

    Children need to explore and experience. The box can be better than the present.

    I hope this verdict is overturned on appeal.

  149. Cheryl W July 20, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    According to the piece on NPR just a bit ago about some national organization recommending that health insurance be required to provide birth control, 1/2 of pregnancies in this country are unplanned.

    From personal experience, I can say two out of three of my kids were that way, and with my mother, 3 out of 4. My aunt, 3 out of 3. All loved, and all cared for. Just a failure of birth control (or in my aunt’s case, none with the first.) All of us are/were married, (my aunt is deceased.) And yes, birth control fails for the affluent too, because they too “can’t keep it in their pants.” It is human nature to have sex, especially if you are married or in a committed relationship. Sheese.

    People are assuming it seems that this lady was poor because she had no car and lived in an apartment building. Are we 100% certain this is the case? Perhaps she is one of the environmentally thinking people who has one or no car by choice, perhaps she is married and her husband has a good job, but maybe not the savings for a great lawyer. I keep reading (from my west coast area) about families in Portland and Seattle who choose to have no cars, and do travel about with toddlers all the time. These are families that could afford to have a car, but don’t want the hassle, space, payments, insurance and all the rest. Those people, we celebrate for being forward thinking. But this woman, well, let her have it because she is poor and has more that 2.5 kids and hasn’t had extra arms grafted on so that she can properly restrain them all.

  150. Taradlion July 20, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    How awful. As others have said, watching your child be hit and killed by a car, and having his siblings witness it too, is truly tragic. Compounded with a conviction, hellish.

    When I read the post header, I had assumed this would be a case of an unaccompanied child running into traffic. A case of blaming a mother for not watching her child, not a situation of a mom WITH her 3 Kids, with groceries and a wiggly 4 year old…I couldn’t imagine what she had done to be charged

    In keeping with FRK, I try to teach my kids crossing safety so they can be safe crossing independently. I *try* to model always crossing at the crosswalk and waiting for a new light when walking across multi-lane busy streets (like the corner we live on) with my kids here in Manhattan. Because of this, my kids are more likely to say, “we don’t have the light” than to jaywalk; however, I can’t claim to have never rushed across when I saw no treat of oncoming traffic when late for an appointment or trying to catch a bus. I don’t hold their hands when waiting to cross or crossing. I cannot pass judgment on anyone but the drunk driver.

    As for the leash/stroller argument. My son at 18 months did not want to get in his stroller. He liked to walk. I put our pot luck diner items in the stroller instead. I waited for the light then stepped into the crosswalk with my then 4 year old beside me…wham… A turning SUV took the front wheels off the stroller. We were fine, but my son would be footless or worse if he HAD been in the stroller…my 4 year old could easily have been killed if even a step ahead of where she was. I will say, she is still (at 10) very aware of turning cars and does not rely solely on having the light and being “right”…dead right is no better than dead wrong.

  151. MichaelEdits July 20, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    I guess she was guilty until proven innocent.

  152. SKL July 20, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    So what if she was poor? Is it now a crime to be poor?

    Look, I’m all about not procreating when you can’t care for your kids. What does that have to do with this? A 4-year-old ran in front of a car that was being driven by a drunk. That could happen to anyone! People drive drunk in rich and poor neighborhoods. Kids run off in rich and poor neighborhoods.

    I think we ought to shelve the whole “irresponsible to have kids” discussion, because all it’s going to do is piss people off.

    This is a sore point for me because growing up, and in college, I was constantly hearing about how the dumbest, most hopeless kids were from big families, 3rd-born or later, female, with young, low-income parents and working moms, who were latchkey kids, spanked, bla bla bla – and if you do the math between all the factors, my IQ should be about 12 and I should be a great granny on psycho meds. Ha! Just because there is statistical association between income and social outcomes does not mean that every person below middle class is an ineffective parent. (And though it gets a bit personal for me, I know I’m not the only person who gets offended by this stuff.)

    Or maybe Dolly thinks we should just take away all the kids of below-middle-class parents as a preventative measure, since obviously they are all going to end up destroyed by their irresponsible parents.

  153. Silver Fang July 20, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    She was charged because she’s poor and black. If she had been rich and white, there would have been no charges. Jim Crow is alive and well south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

  154. Arjen Lentz July 20, 2011 at 10:30 am #

    If it’s about punishment, the mum already has to live with this for the rest of her life. It makes absolutely no sense to also add a criminal conviction.
    But I don’t think it should be about punishment, that completely misses the point of what happened, and why and how. Just sad.

  155. Hugo S. Cunningham July 20, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    Has anyone dangled this case in front of MADD (“Mothers Against Drunk Driving”)?

    “Georgia: drunk drivers kill toddler, then sit on jury to convict mother”

    It is a safe statistical bet that at least one (probably more) of the jurors (all drivers, no bus riders) had driven drunk in the past, even if he had never been caught. I can just hear such a person deliberating with the other jurors:
    “We gotta get these damn kids off the roads. If it weren’t for these damn kids, it wouldn’t matter if one had a drink or two.”

  156. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    Ariel and others: show me where I said a car was a must for having kids. I said no such thing. I said having a car would be a must if you live in a non pedestrian friendly city or area. Like an area where you would have to go way out of your way to reach a crosswalk with your kids to get to the bus stop for example and cross a busy 5 lane street and take several buses just to do the grocery shopping…… Yeah that might not be the best idea.

  157. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    Still, I am on the same side as the ones trying to argue with me. She does not need to be charged with anything. And yes, even if she was being 100% perfect parent sometimes these kind of things still can happen. I acknowledge that. But I also point out things that could be improved upon or other points of view too like if the child was in a stroller or a harness this might not have happened or that maybe it is just not safe to be crossing that street with that many kids.

  158. Uly July 20, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    But I also point out things that could be improved upon or other points of view too like if the child was in a stroller or a harness this might not have happened or that maybe it is just not safe to be crossing that street with that many kids.

    Maybe it’s not, but the alternative isn’t any better.

    Or maybe it’s a relatively quiet street outside of rush hour and it’s not too unsafe except for this idiot drunk. I don’t know, I don’t live there. I do know that unless she broke the law, she shouldn’t be charged with anything, and she should only be charged with whatever law she broke.

  159. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    SKL: the “goodbye syndrome” is again something I don’t really understand how that happens. My kids are not outside by themselves till they are old enough to KNOW not to run behind a backing up car. My kids can’t get outside on their own or even to the garage either because of child gates. So mine have never ran to see me off in my car ever. They wave from the windows where they are contained.

  160. Ariel July 20, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    Sliver Fang,

    While abhorrent and only a judicial construct of the South but upheld by SCOTUS (Plessy v. Ferguson), Jim Crow still peeked from the covers in the North (look up miscegenation laws as well eugenics, very much practiced in the North by Progressives as well the “Right”, more the Progressives). The North didn’t fight against slavery but against secession, while the South fought for State’s Rights (which in this case and only this case meant slavery, I throw that in because of reactionary bigots that immediately scream slavery when State’s Rights are brought up).

    Whites are privileged above and below the Mason-Dixon Line, not by law but by societal prejudice. Try being a Hispanic in Southern California (at least 40 years ago) or Arizona, even though the Anglos appreciate and embrace Hispanic culture.

    On point, this will be overturned on appeal, if there is any sense in the IIRC 11th circuit.

  161. Monte Haun July 20, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    The Blog has not been around for very long, so I don’t know if it is new, but I see what seems to be an almost perverse reaction of some people to other people woes.

    The more tragic the misery that befalls some poor SOB, the harder these people try to blame the Victim.

    Would I be wrong to assume that they are so affected by the knowledge that a moment’s inattention or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, can turn their life into crap in an instant, that they somehow have to believe that bad things only happen to bad people or careless people or lazy people?

    Or are they just Shadenfreude creeps that secretly enjoy the misery of others and think they are smarter than everybody else?

    Monte Haun mchaun@hotmail.com

  162. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    Cheryl: Bull, you can get free contraception at the health clinic. I know people who have done so.

    Also you know, if you don’t have protection you can just not have sex till you get some. Its not that hard. Rape of course being the exception.

  163. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    Elle: if someone’s birth control fails they still have options. Abortion, adoption, letting a friend or relative raise the child till you are better able to take care of them, etc. So every single parent out there still CHOOSES to be a parent and therefore the job and responsibility is on them.

  164. Donna July 20, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    This actually happened in a suburb of Atlanta, not Atlanta. Like any suburbs, Atlanta’s are not remotely pedestrian and public transportation friendly.

    “Not having anyone on the jury who used public transit is a serious error in jury selection,”

    Yes, because a poor, stupid public defender couldn’t figure that out. A “jury of your peers” simply means a jury of average citizens in the county in which you reside, not a jury of bus riding individuals. You only get to pick 6 jurors from an 18 person jury pool. It would take jury pool of several thousand to find 6 bus riders in Cobb County.

    This woman was charged with misdemeanor vehichular manslaughter which is essentially negligence that causes the death of someone by vehicle. I wasn’t aware it could be, and have never seen it used, against someone who was not the driver of the car or in some way responsible for the actions of the vehicle. Interesting. I’ll have to look into this when I get home from vacation.

  165. SKL July 20, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    WHY are we talking about abortion? How dare you decide that someone else’s kid should be killed before birth?

    Dolly, did you notice that the death rate for abortion is nearly 100%, far higher than the rate of all other causes of infant/child death combined? You are really not about helping kids survive, are you?

    Regardless of my disgust for your position, it is completely beside the point. Children who are born have (or should have) the same standing, regardless of their parents’ circumstances. “Oh well, that child should not have been conceived” does not solve a single problem. The child is alive now, so get over it. I’m getting angrier and angrier here. You obviously think your children have more right to be alive than mine. Shame on you.

  166. Ariel July 20, 2011 at 11:31 am #

    You’re making a distinction without a difference. There are few if any Metro areas in the US that are pedestrian friendly beyond a small core area (I remember San Francisco, Honolulu, and NYC being that way in the 70s, sort of, but even still touch and go for a pedestrian), however, my post on the s**t on your shoe was much more than just that. You’ve picked one, but many more to go. Sorry.

    “Would I be wrong to assume that they are so affected by the knowledge that a moment’s inattention or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, can turn their life into crap in an instant, that they somehow have to believe that bad things only happen to bad people or careless people or lazy people?”

    Yep, welcome to the new Weltanschaung, where only perfection is acceptable, all else is proof of intrinsic fault or failure. I was taught this was adolescent thinking, but unfortunately too many adults seem to have embraced it. Schadenfreude (G*d, I love Germans for pithy words however long v. the French for phrases) is an obvious result, after all “I could never ever do that” is so ego satisfying, until….

    This verdict will be overturned on appeal, if there is justice.

  167. Ann July 20, 2011 at 11:35 am #

    Oh that poor mother…. I can’t even imagine. We’ve all had those times when a young child runs out in a parking lot or street despite our screams of “STOP!!!”. It just happens.Fortunately, most of the time, the child is not hurt. This poor woman would probably beat herself up over her decision to cross that street for the rest of her life. I can’t believe a jury chose to give her more punishment than that.

  168. SKL July 20, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    Dolly: “the “goodbye syndrome” is again something I don’t really understand how that happens. My kids are not outside by themselves till they are old enough to KNOW not to run behind a backing up car. My kids can’t get outside on their own or even to the garage either because of child gates. So mine have never ran to see me off in my car ever. They wave from the windows where they are contained.”

    Nobody thinks this is going to happen to their kids – that’s why it happens. Usually the child is outdoors with the other parent and unexpectedly darts off. Thing is, kids are unpredictable. Most of us don’t keep ours caged throughout their toddler years. Most of our kids would eventually figure out how to escape in any case, if ever they had a mind to. So we teach them not to do “bad things,” but they don’t see running to Daddy / Mommy as being “bad.” It’s one of the few things I have always been hyper-vigilant about, only because I’ve heard of this happening so many times. (Well, also because the people I live with don’t watch where they are driving . . . .)

  169. Colleen Herst July 20, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    Hele, you FAIL to have sympathy for a mother who watched her son be killed by a drunk driver & now will alsO be separated from her other two children while she is in jail for 3 years for making a mistake??!!?? I wonder what, in fact, you do have sympathy for.

  170. Blue July 20, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    @Rich Wilson where I live (in Canada) strollers are allowed on the bus unfolded. All the front seats lift up and people are expected to move to the back for strollers, walkers & wheelchairs if they need the space from those seats. They’re even allowed to block the aisle if there’s several of them. I was on the bus today & there were 4 of us with strollers and 2 people with walkers. I folded my stroller to make more room (and had a heck of time getting off the bus) because my toddler wanted to sit next to me anyway. One stroller was in the middle of the aisle & 1 walker was in the middle up near the driver. The driver made people who wanted to get on go to the back doors. Personally, I’d rather baby wear on the bus, but my youngest is too big to do that these days, but not big enough to stay safe in downtown.

    I think this case is horrible. She should never have been charged in the first place. The prosecutor obviously has some issues. I signed the petition to get the conviction overturned. There aren’t nearly enough signatures, though. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/669/545/347/

  171. Carolyn Jayne July 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    Dolly: Do you know, I am one hundred percent pro choice (which also includes the right to choose to have a baby, not just the right to abort it), but I have studied the issue quite a bit, and guess what? Nobody I have ever come across says “whoops, according to some self-righteous commenter on FRK I am not financially stable enough to have a baby, so I guess I’ll just get the thing aborted!” No. Abortion services are not available in all areas (sometimes whole states are without a clinic), they can’t always be accessed at low cost, and even if you can access them in a lot of areas you’re going to be harassed by people on the streets calling you a murderer, telling you you deserve to die, etc etc. Or you can do what half of all women who have abortions do — get it in a back alley from a dodgy practitioner, risking death or serious injury (70000 women a year die this way). If I were pregnant at this moment, I would 100% have an abortion, but I would never ever judge someone for not doing so, for not putting themselves through that kind of crap. I have no right to assume I know what is best for another grown, law-abiding woman.

    Adoption is not much better if you aren’t likely to give birth to a blonde haired, blue eyed, shiny-white-skinned little child. Adoption rates for the children of POC in America are abysmal, because they people who are adopting (middle/upper middle class) want a baby who looks like them (ie. white, most of the time, because surprise, class divisions are largely race divisions as well). Not every adoptive parent is like this (thankfully), but many would sooner fly half way around the world to snap up a little white Russian baby than take on a child of colour. Worse still if your child is not a baby but a few months or a few years old.

    And no, contraception is not always available,especially if you have any allergies (ever met someone who is allergic to all of the materials condoms are made of? I have.). It especially isn’t available in poor neighborhoods, and it especially isn’t available in deeply religious areas. Many drug stores refuse to sell it.

    In short, Dolly, not everyone in the world, or even the country, is living in the same circumstances you are. There are problems for other people that would never crop up for you. That’s what privilege is. It’s not a bad thing to have, but it is a very, very bad thing to ignore if you want to be a decent person.

  172. datyof3 July 20, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    Thanks, Lenore, for pointing out the ethos surrounding bus riders. For some reason I think about the lives of people I pass at bus stops every day. What is that mom thinking of making for dinner when she gets home a full hour after my kids cruise in for a landing in their climate-controlled $30K+ van and complain when the video goes black? I know I’m thinking of boxed mac&cheese in order to get the queue of chores done and get everyone in bed by 8:15 so we can get up at 5:30 am (& not 3:30, as others must). Help with homework? Sorry! When all three of my kids are vomiting (etc.) and I have to get them to the doctor, I think about that mother, and what it must be like to spend 90 minutes to and from on a bus with three pukers. Alternate universe.

  173. NZ mum July 20, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    This blog has provoked much discussion within my household and at the kindy (childcare for preschoolers) my son goes to.

    Buses here have stroller spots. There are also wheelchair spots. The buses have stops that are accessible to zebra crossings (not sure if this is a term used in the US) or, if they are on quiet streets, they are well marked so drivers know there is a bus stop there. Granted we don’t have the same amount of traffic as in the US and we aren’t perfect here by any means but at least we are giving it a go when it comes to being child friendly.

    At kindy today, a child ran onto the road without holding their parent’s hand. And the poor parents ran across the road and grabbed them and told them off. No one rang the authorities, no one blamed the parents. Everyone felt for those parents because we have all been there. No blame, just empathy.

    The fact this poor mother was black doesn’t surprise me. The rest of the Western world is waiting for the US to catch up with the fact that colour should not determine your place in the world. That mother was convicted because she is black and poor. That disgusts me.

    And my WTH moment? You need HEALTH INSURANCE to get contraception?! WHY? I really don’t understand the US medical system at all.

    This poor mother and her children need someone to advocate for them. Someone who knows legal stuff and can help get this family back together. And that drunk driver needs to be punished way harsher.

    I am beginning to understand the need for this movement. The US has some messed up laws. While I’m still struggling with some of the ideas, please keep fighting for some justice in your country. Or move here. Your kids can run free with the kids that are still running about on the street at 6pm. And no one will call the cops 🙂

  174. Jenny Islander July 20, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    What does it say about my country that I knew this woman’s race without reading the article?

    Explanation to foreigners: Whenever anything goes wrong in the U.S., there arises a call for someone to be punished.

    Punish the planners who decided that people who ride the bus in Atlanta shall have no safe way to walk from stop to stop, or the planners who decided that there wouldn’t be enough buses for the inevitable missed transfers, or the ones who decided against pedestrian overpasses at massive intersections, or the idiots who rammed a 50-mph road through a residential district? Psssh, no. That’s too complex. Can’t be put into a 30-second headline. Plus, some Very Important People might have their lives disrupted.

    Punish the drunk driver who killed a child? That driver cannot be punished enough for threatening to disrupt the lives of the Very Important People and upsetting the kind of person who makes upsetting phone calls to Very Important People and also to reporters and people who opine in public. The nerve! So the rest of the punishment has to be offloaded on someone else.

    I know! How about the mom? After all, she dared to be poor and have children. There must be something wrong with her because BOOTSTRAPS. Also, she’s bla–I mean, she must be consuming government services unnecessarily, or something. So let’s call her a murderer, destroy her family, and put her in jail. That’ll teach her to be poor, overburdened, and bla–I mean, too lazy to figure out some other way not to have to drag three children and a pile of groceries an extra half-mile along the side of a highway.

    Also, not owning a car is unAmerican and nobody who is unAmerican deserves basic human dignity. So there.

  175. Jenny Islander July 20, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    Also, nzmum, didn’t you hear that empathy is unAmerican too? People who practice empathy are part of what’s wrong with our country and we need to get them out of our government.

    No, seriously.

    Here’s a whole bunch of links about it.


    Instead of empathy, it’s BOOTSTRAPS! and PUNISH! Preferably quickly, so the whole thing can be wrapped up in time for the next news cycle!

  176. EP July 20, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    For all the people who keep mentioning that she violated the law by trying to cross in the middle of the road, according to GEORGIA CODE, it is NOT illegal to “jaywalk” so long as peds yield to traffic. (http://peds.org/resources/pedestrian_right_of_way/) Some of you are forgetting that States make their own laws.

    Also, whether or not we agree with Ms. Nelson’s choices, there are four factors that some people are not tacking into account: (1) the driver, Mr. Guy, “confessed to having consumed “a little” alcohol earlier in the day, having taken pain medication and being partially blind in his left eye.” (2) “Court records show that Guy was previously convicted of two-hit-and-runs on the same day, Feb. 17, 1997. […] Guy pleaded guilty and received a two-year prison sentence, but was out in less than a year.” (3) Witnesses say that Mr. Guy saw the child run into the road, flashed his brights at the child, and then he SPED UP. (4) The pedestrians are LEGALLY allowed to cross this road, and do so quite often, but the fact is that this road was poorly planned and is not pedestrian friendly.

  177. Hineata July 20, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    NZmum, quite agree, sounds like we are very lucky!

    Very much sympathise with this poor mum. I remember being in Malaysia with 3 preschoolers and no car. In JB at the time, anyway, there were effectively no road rules – cars made as many lanes as possible during rush hour, i.e. 2 lanes became 5. Crossing the road required heaps of prayer! (Or, seriously, waiting until the Malays, who make up a lot of the population, and are generally very devout Muslims, stopped for their prayers!) It was good luck and the grace of God rather than good management that none of the kids were killed while we lived there.

    And expecting kids to walk half a mile in heat to a crossing? I can remember vividly one day when the taxi dropped us by mistake half a mile down the road from the bus stop (yes, I was very lucky in that I could afford taxis sometimes, and we were 4 miles from the closest busstop). The 2 and 3 year olds, who had to walk because we couldn’t take pushchairs on the bus, walked 100m in the 35degree heat (sorry, no idea what that is in Fahrenheit, but b- hot, and 100% humidity), just sat down on the roadside – no footpaths- and refused to move. After about 20 minutes cajoling, arguing, bribing, begging, and crying (me, not the kids:-) ), I rang up hubby and told him if he didn’t drop everything and come and b#$* pick us up I was taking the next plane home!

    This poor, poor woman – I would have done just the same thing, if my apartment had been across the road!

  178. SKL July 20, 2011 at 4:18 pm #

    Just need to clear up a couple things.

    Regarding the race issue – I agree we have plenty of racism here, but there are also plenty of African-Americans in the jury pool in Atlanta. Let’s not assume the jury was not racially balanced unless we know that for a fact. For that matter, do we know for a fact that the arresting officer and/or prosecutor were white? Blaming the situation on racism is an easy out for the real problem here, in my opinion. It should be legally impossible for this to happen to a person of any class or color.

    And for the NZ person – no, health insurance is not required in order to buy contraception (or any other routine product or service) in the USA. That’s just an excuse the bleeding-hearts like to give. The idea that a person didn’t use a condom because it wasn’t affordable is ridiculous. Granted, condoms aren’t 100%, but that’s no excuse to not use one. You wouldn’t go out barefoot in the winter because your boot might get a hole in it.

  179. Hineata July 20, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    Oh, and as to why a 3-year-old would be in a pushchair, it was just that she was very small for her age, developmental delays etc…..

  180. Myriam July 20, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    Of course poverty and children often go hand in hand, even temporarily, simply because it’s hard to work and look after them at the same time. My children are having to put up with far from ideal accommodation because I chose not to work much for the first couple of years of their lives (and my husband has less earning power than me). We’re just catching up now.
    People could easily say to me you shouldn’t have had those children when you can’t afford a proper “family home”. But if I had gone back to work sooner the same people probably would have been saying “why did you have those children just to give them to someone else to look after?”. Can’t win.

    As for the people that are saying that people shouldn’t breed unless they live in pedestrian friendly areas or else own cars. Well! Machines are supposed to serve human beings, not the other way round.

  181. SKL July 20, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    The fact is that some people choose to procreate knowing that they will use government help. Whole communities have done this for generations. It’s woven into the fabric of our society. I hate the attitude, but it does NOT make the resulting children less valuable than any other children.

    I like how Lenore generally does a good job of keeping politics out of this blog. So I’m not gonna bite on some of the controversial comments above, though it is tempting.

  182. Valerie July 20, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    Uly, WHERE do you see anything religious in what I wrote about common sense????

    Common sense has absolutely nothing to do with a god, colour or creed. It is about COMMON SENSE!!!

  183. NZ mum July 20, 2011 at 5:53 pm #

    Valerie it could be because you mentioned the Ten Commandments, churches and God?

    Just a thought

  184. Dolly July 20, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    I didn’t assume the woman was black just by reading the article. Atlanta does have a lot of African Americans but they also have a lot of whites and Hispanics and various other races.

    SKL: No argument that all children are worthy and precious regardless of their parent’s bad decisions or their current circumstances. Children are our most precious resource. Thus why I volunteer and donate to only children’s charities. Children are my main focus and the ones I care the most about. That child did not deserve what happened to it. He deserved a safe way to travel either in a car if it is not a pedestrian friendly area or walking in a pedestrian friendly area. Or just having a safer crosswalk or pedestrian bridge. That is why this whole thing makes me so sad because somewhere all the negatives combined and it cost that poor child his life and traumatized the other siblings and the mother. Just so so sad.

    Just to assure you guys I am NOT a hypocrite I am all for the government paying for birth control. I don’t mind tax dollars going for that because in the end, an IUD or some condoms or a depo shot is going to be cheaper than paying for a child for the next 18 years on welfare. There are other birth control methods besides condoms which do break. IUDs are very effective. Birth control pills are pretty effective if you are good about taking them. Depo is effective. Even then it may be an accident to get pregnant but no one accidentally decides to parent their child. That is 100% a choice.

    I also disagree with the whole adoption doesn’t work. Bull. I looked into adoption a lot for adopting kids of my own and I would have happily taken a black child as long as it was healthy. The fact is that poor people don’t hardly ever want to give up their children for adoption because they get welfare and for other reasons. However I know many many many potential adoptive parents that would jump at the chance for any baby of any color. There are even potential adoptive parents who will take special needs children. Besides if you turn your child over to the state, your obligation ends.

    I am not saying anyone has to abort or adopt or whatever, but you do need to OWN your decision.

  185. gap-runner July 20, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

    What happened to having some compassion for a mother who just lost her child? Whether she made a good or bad decision to have that child doesn’t matter at this point. That woman is feeling bad enough without certain posters here saying: that she should have used birth control, had an abortion, or put her baby up for adoption, that she shouldn’t be having children if she’s poor, that she should have driven a car instead of taking the bus, or that she should have crossed the street with 3 kids at a different location. You can condemn her all you want, but she still lost a child. On top of that tragic loss, she’s going to jail for it. Like Lieby Kletzky’s mother, this mother also deserves our condolences and sympathy and not condemnation and judgement.

  186. Steff Green Jones July 20, 2011 at 8:44 pm #

    OMG….I cannot even fathom the position that some of you have taken. I have three sons ages 2, 7, and 8. I have the good fortune to have a vehicle and the ability to drive it when and where i want to. I am also blessed to live in a very rural area, so traffic on my street(dirt road) is minimal. When my 8 year old was 2, I was putting the one who is now 7 to bed. I went to the bathroom(GOD FORBID) and I heard our back door open and close. I came out of the bathroom at a dead run doing the mommy dance of trying to dress and run at the same time. I was able to follow the trail of clothes our little one left outside and around one side of the house. When I got to the corner of our house, there he toddled down the middle of the street with 2 of our dogs in tow over half a block away. from the time i heard the door open until the time I got to where he was was less than 2 MINUTES. I am so thankful we don’t live near a busy street, metro area, and that none of my neighbors were coming home at the time.
    EVERY parent has had one of these moments and if they say they don’t its a Lie. Raising kids in any environment is scary and frought with a number of accidents that can happen. Where we live it just so happens that my kids are much more likely to die from a snake bite than a car accident.
    i have also had moments with 3 kids where one breaks free, or runs ahead and it is terribly frightening. With my husbands job we have the opportunity to travel with him in the summers and though we have tried to teach our kids all of these safety things, we run into unusual(to us) situations. Large urban parking lots are totally as frightening to me as a busy highway. I am not used to the way people fly in and out of them anymore, i have been back in the south for 15 years, and in a totally rural environment for 8 years. I have to reeducate myself and the kids every single year.
    No mother should have to go through what this woman has, to watch her child dart out and be run down, to be prosecuted (and by the way, she is facing a 3 year sentence minimum which means she was prosecuted for the FELONY not the misdemeanor) and convicted given this set of circumstances is beyond all reason to my mind.
    And judging her because she dared to have three kids and be poor or lived in poorer circumstances is utter bullshit! Sorry but there but for the grace of God, go I, and any of you for that matter….
    “I have the sense to make better decisions than that, ” you say.
    WHATEVER, you have no idea what led up to her circumstances, for all you know her husband served our country and had the misfortune to be killed in IRAQ or Afghanistan defending your right to say such crap. And the military forced her off base and she was left in an untenable position of having to take care of 3 kids on only her wages and her car died and she had no way to replace it…..you do not know what led her to that point and have NO RIGHT to make decisions or judgments based on the meager details printed in a few stories on a blog or news article.
    I pray that God gives this mother some peace and mercy. Because at any given moment I could be her.

  187. cath July 20, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    I agree Steff, we have no right to judge. Some people do need to take a walk in other’s shoes.

    And yes, many of us have had the same experience or the close encounter. I was fortunate with my son at 2yrs and after this experience i always had him on a ‘leash’, even if it meant being abused by a woman in a wheel chair (he’s not a dog’) and frowned upon by others, for keeping him safe while out and bout.
    He, at least, could feel free, not having to hold my hand or sit in a pusher when the world around him was saying ‘explore’. He’s now made it to 26.

    But most importantly- My heart goes out to this very unfortunate family. I hope that somehow their hearts will heal.

  188. Uly July 20, 2011 at 9:21 pm #

    I looked into adoption a lot for adopting kids of my own and I would have happily taken a black child as long as it was healthy.

    Breaking news. Because Dolly is so great, there are no longer any children waiting to be adopted!

    Notice that she never actually adopted any black child, healthy or not. Or any child at all, I suspect. But because she theoretically might have, the whole system works for every single child in it.

  189. pentamom July 20, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    “He deserved a safe way to travel either in a car if it is not a pedestrian friendly area”

    Leaving aside the argument over whether cars area always safer, do you really believe every human being “deserves” to travel in a car if it is the safest way to go?

    Look, Dolly, life is just not like that for vast numbers of people in this world. Your and my middle class life is not the template by which everyone should be judged. The fact that not everyone can afford certain amenities is not single person’s fault (and certainly not of the person who can’t afford it, unless they’re gambling or drinking away the money), although I don’t deny that it would be better if everyone could (if they so chose.) That is the way the world is and always has been. Not every kid gets to get chauffeured, and not every parent in circumstances that precludes chauffeuring their kids has “failed” in some way. We don’t know this woman’s circumstances, but NOT knowing them, there is no reason to assume she is not doing the best she can (and conversely, no reason to assume she is, except for the benefit of the doubt, which charitable people give.)

  190. Donna July 20, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    Actually, SKL, this is in an Atlanta suburb. It may very well have been a predominantly or even all white jury pool. I don’t think that as anything to do with this outside of the fact the people on the jury probably had no ability to relate to the low income defendant and probably thought much like Dolly.

    Cobb county, where this occurred, is not downtown Atlanta. It is predominantly middle class, upper middle class and white. It is highly conservative. It is a suburb, meaning walking and public transportation are practically unheard of and looked down upon. This is an area where some would actually drive 3 blocks to the gym to workout. If the people I know there are any indication, helicopter parents are the norm.

    @ Steff – She’s facing a 3 year MAXIMUM. She apparently has some charged for the other 2 children who were with her, and as I understand it also injured in some way. The 6 person jury mentioned in the article tells us it was a misdemeanor. She is not going to prison. I don’t think she should have been prosecuted but let’s keep the facts straight.

  191. Amy July 20, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    I live in Atlanta and the writer is correct. Our commissioners give no thought to walkers or cyclists in this city! It is a city created for multi-car families. Makes me nuts!! My heart goes out to this woman and her children.

  192. Brian July 20, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    SKL: we all procreate knowing that we will use the government to help. We know there will be roads, police, licensed doctors, pasteurized milk, public schools, a standing army to protect our borders, a vaccinated public, tax credits, subsidized oil, etc.

  193. Steff Green Jones July 20, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    OK, I saw that about the misdemeanor, but no other charges were mentioned and when I looked at the penalties for the law and saw the three years, I didn’t realize there were other charges. In my book though that makes it even more ridiculous. Frankly it makes me sick to even think about. Sick at heart, but mentally as well because well again, there but for the grace…. I cannot fathom the pain this poor mother must be going through and it offends me that so many are judging based on this event. It is difficult to think how one would act in a given situation, particularly one that is very foreign to the way we live.

  194. Dave July 20, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    There is so much wrong with this story. The designers of the highway and the postion of the bus stop is key to this story. I was recently in Atlanta and understand how this happened. Atlanta is car friendly not podestrian friendly. My wife and I are in good shape and being from NYC we walk alot. In Atlanta we had to cross a busy highway downtown a few times during our stay. The cross walk had a count down clock to alert you when the light was changing. Starting out whent he light change we were never able to cross the street before the light changed again. In an effort to keep traffic moving they did not leave enough time to walk across the street. Add to this wide turns that let the cars maintain their speed and you are setting people up for accidents.

    If you design everything for the convience of the driver you can not hold parents responsible when their children are hurt by cars. Move the bus stop close to the light, lengthen the time people are given to cross the street and slow the traffic down. Drivers will not like it but again cars kill more children than anything else. If we are concerned about child safety we need to be less concerned about driver convience.

  195. pentamom July 20, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    Donna, can you explain?

    “She’s facing a 3 year MAXIMUM…. She is not going to prison. I don’t think she should have been prosecuted but let’s keep the facts straight.”

    Can you explain what it means that she’s facing a 3 year maximum but she’s definitely not going to prison?

    On a separate point, I’m not really arguing because I don’t know the actual facts, but I’ve heard that the Atlanta suburbs have “browned” significantly in the last decade. Is Cobb County the exception?

  196. Dragonwolf July 20, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    Um…wow… All you people blaming the mother? Did it ever occur to you that the same thing would have happened even if they had walked to the light? The driver was DRUNK. Last I checked, drunk drivers are less likely to heed a red light, too. They also tend to not heed those bright white or yellow markings on the road. Which means even if the kids were perfectly behaved, they STILL could have been hit.

    And the leash idea? It’s just as likely the child could have gone the length of the leash and gotten hit, which would have likely dragged the mother along, injuring her even further, too.

    Also, for those of you enjoying your car-worshipping, suburban life on a two-lane cul de sac, a five lane “highway” actually isn’t that huge. It’s two lanes in either direction, plus a turn lane. Hell, the Interstates that criss-cross my city have that many lanes going in one direction.

    Oh, and the idea of “just move somewhere that’s more pedestrian-friendly”? Um, yeah…that’s downtown (which is arguably often busier), and thanks to urban renewal efforts, is often more expensive than outskirts. Unless you’re in a slum. In which case, you then subject yourself and your kids to elevated violence and corner drug deals.

    Here’s a challenge for you – live your life for a week without using your car at all. Don’t just bum a ride from a neighbor or coworker and don’t call a cab. Take your local public transportation to work. Take it to get to your kids’ soccer practice. Take it grocery shopping. See what it’s actually like to deal with not having road shoulders, let alone sidewalks. See what it’s like to have to plan two or more hours just for travel time. See what it’s like to not be able to walk pretty much anywhere, because it’s illegal to cross certain types of entrance ramps to highways, and even if it were legal, there’s no place TO walk on the quarter-mile long bridge that is also a giant intersection for said Interstate highway. I don’t care if your husband or wife or parents or siblings used to or currently do that. Do it for yourself.

  197. Douglas John Bowen July 20, 2011 at 11:08 pm #

    Last night my son (now almost 11) and I recalled the time our car had a flat while we were rushing to get medical help to tend to his injured finger. I had to change the tire on the shoulder, on the traffic side, concerned for my own safety but also terrified that my son (only 3 at the time) would get out of the car and wander into speeding traffic.

    I was shaking, almost crying, at one point since I couldn’t see him, and I called out, “Where are you?” Calmly, from the other side of the car (but outside it!), he replied, “I’m right here, Dad; I’m OK. I’m right here.” Stressed (to say the least), but immersed in my task, I repeatedly asked/told/begged him to stay put, to NOT come to where I was — and he (repeatedly) said he understood and would stay put. He did so, even telling me not to rush, not to worry. All while his finger was throbbing. Pretty good for a 3-year-old.

    In retrospect, I myself might have handled the situation differently. Still, last night I told my son how proud I was of him (both then and now), and how we both handled a tight spot as best we could as it occurred. We were fortunate — the tire got changed, my son kept himself safe, and in the end his finger wasn’t even badly damaged (though it hurt a lot). And there was no drunk driver or other negative influence outside of our joint control.But I’ve always known it could have ended up very differently, as the situation did for this poor woman in Atlanta.

  198. Rich Wilson July 20, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    @NZ mum
    I don’t think Valerie actually spent much time reading what she posted. http://www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/commonsense.asp

    Really funny that anyone (Not Valerie, but others) would attribute anything praising the 10 commandments to Carlin!

  199. LauraL July 20, 2011 at 11:48 pm #

    So for those who cannot afford cars, let them eat cake!

  200. LauraL July 20, 2011 at 11:53 pm #

    Once again, punishing the parent for not being perfect.

    Glass houses, jurors. Glass houses…

  201. EricS July 20, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    I see parents scuttling their kids across the street during rush hour and not at the designated crossing almost everyday, and it pains me. Especially when the lights is literally a few meters away (30 sec walk). THAT’S stupid. This mothers situation, totally different. I don’t think ANYONE, and I mean ANYONE, in her position would not walk almost half a mile (that’s about 4 big blocks) to the closest crossing and back again, when they’re home is literally right across the street from them. This is a tragic mishap on the side of the mother and children. If it were only the one child, I’m very sure the mother would have been able to nab him as he squirmed away (which children do most often). But with 2 other kids in tow, that split second it takes for a child to dart away from you is almost impossible to avoid. Just like all those parents who’ve unintentionally dropped their kids, tripped them, stumbled over them, bumped their heads. And there have been countless numbers of those parents. Should they all be charged with assault, reckless endangerment, neglect? Crap happens. It’s not like this mother pushed her child on to the road.

    This is a classic case of people getting caught up in their emotions and fears. That they NEED to lay the blame on someone, and when the only obvious person to blame (drunk driver) isn’t enough. It’s been known for a very longtime that the law is flawed. This is just another case of that. The modern day lynch mob. Did these people ever stop to think how their irrational judgement would affect the other two children? One child is lost, a mother is gone, now they can add two more children going into the system if they cannot find relatives to take care of them. And we all know what happens to most low-middle class children going into foster care. Not all, but many. And all for the sake of satisfying the angry masses looking for vindication. Sounds pretty selfish to me. I surely hope that her case can be repealed. How can someone be charged for vehicular homicide, when they weren’t even driving. This should have never been brought to court in the first place. I’m curious too, what did the drunk driver get other than a hit and run. Seems to me that he should have been hit with the vehicular homicide charge.

  202. Donna July 21, 2011 at 12:12 am #

    From the articles I’ve read, she appears to have been convicted of 3 separate misdemeanors. Each one carries a maximum sentence of 12 months. If they run them consecutively, she would get a 36 month sentence.

    There are 2 confinement systems – county jail and state prison. A person convicted of misdemeanors cannot be sentenced to prison. They can only be sentenced to time in the county jail. The woman could get sentenced to 3 years in jail but it is unlikely, if for no other reason than the county will not want to pay to house her that long. She’ll likely get some jail time, followed by probation. Still bad but county jail isn’t as scary as prison.

    Yes, the Atlanta suburbs have “browned” in recent years. Cobb is no exception. However, that is not yet reflected in the jury pool. Juries are supposed to match the racial makeup of the county. To do that, they notice x number of blacks and x number of whites to represent the percentages of each in the county. Problem is that everyone is still running off of the 2000 census numbers when the Atlanta suburbs were still almost lily-white so juries are still mostly white. We have the same issue where I work. Juries should improve some as the 2010 census comes into play.

    And to say that the other residents of Cobb county are unhappy about the “browning” of their county would be an understatement. Not because of racism, but because of classism – the new residents are mostly poor blacks and illegal Hispanics and criminals in their minds.

  203. Taradlion July 21, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    Dolly- what are CHILD gates? Do you mean baby gates or are there gates specifically marketed for kids now?

  204. Dolly July 21, 2011 at 1:43 am #

    LOL Steff. Or instead of being a military widow she could be a total welfare mother who got knocked up on one night stands and refuses to use birth control. Either scenario are just as likely. Actually if you want to do the numbers mine is probably statistically more likely but I am not going to split hairs on that issue.

    I know nothing about this mother or her circumstances so I pretty much have zero judgment of her except that if she can’t hold all the kids hands tightly enough I think she should have used leashes, strollers, crossed elsewhere, had her groceries delivered, got a car, had a babysitter etc so that maybe this might not have happened and at least won’t happen with another one of her children. That is not judging her. That is trying to solve a problem.

    If a mother loses one child due to the kid choking on a whole grape, it is not stupid or mean or judgmental to suggest that she cuts grapes up for her other children in the future. It is trying to be helpful. It also doesn’t mean you cannot have sympathy either. I am sure if something horrible happened to one of my kids that others would offer suggestions to prevent it in the future too.

  205. ThatDeborahGirl July 21, 2011 at 1:47 am #

    I’m tired of tragic accidents being turned into opportunities for bizarre prosecution. Real life should not mimic an episode of “Law and Order” where half the time, they can’t even “prove” the case, they just somehow get the “criminal” to emotionally break down and confess. How hard would it be to get a heartbroken mother to admit that it was “all my fault.”

    The fact that no one on that jury had ever even taken the bus in that city should be enough for an appeal. Talk about class warfare…

  206. Dolly July 21, 2011 at 1:47 am #

    Uly: there you go assuming again and making yourself look stupid. We were going to adopt because of our infertility and the fact that having biological children was not working. We tried one more thing and then after that, had it not worked, we were going to pursue adoption actively. Not sure what kind, international, domestic, open, etc. We were still deciding that one. Our last attempt worked so we did not adopt.

    BUT guess what!? Here you go looking like an ass again, we are considering fostering older children once our kids are out of the house or older. Fostering is something I have always wanted to do because I really feel for those kids who lose their parents and their home and some foster homes are so sad and messed up and they get switched from place to place. So it is something we are seriously considering.

    So you pretty much owe me an apology don’t you?

  207. Uly July 21, 2011 at 1:52 am #

    No, I don’t, Dolly. Your statement was stupid. So what if you foster two or three or ten or twenty kids? That does not mean that the system works for all the other children in it. For you to claim it does, and that it’s a great option for every woman about to give birth to a kid she may not be able to afford, simply because you considered adopting once and may do so in the future is… bizarre, to say the least.

    (Not to mention, even if it worked perfectly for the amount of children born and given up for adoption now, that’s no promise that it’d continue to work if everybody said “Yup, that’s what I’ll do” on your say-so.)

  208. Dolly July 21, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    Tara: baby gates but I guess you could call them child gates because they work on older kids/toddlers too. Mine are 4 and still obey them. If they REALLY wanted to they can open them or climb over them but they respect them. Very useful.

  209. Lesley July 21, 2011 at 2:17 am #

    So here’s a question: there were other pedestrians crossing in the same place, why didn’t one or more of them offer to help the mother? Either carry some groceries for her, or hold a child’s hand?

    Sadly, I probably already know the answer to that one. The other people wouldn’t offer because, a) they’re too self-absorbed, or b) they’re afraid people will think they’re trying to molest the children. And the mother likely wouldn’t ask because society has been telling her since she was a child that strangers are not trustworthy.

    It says volumes about the kind of society we live in.

  210. Donna July 21, 2011 at 2:18 am #

    Dolly, even outside of Uly’s perfectly valid points, you said that you are planning to possibly, maybe foster/adopt some children 16 years from now. That is meaningful how? It may be meaningful 16 years from now – if you even bother to follow through – but it doesn’t do a damn thing for kids now. You’d be fostering the children of children currently in foster care. To say that adoption is a great alternative because you might foster children 16 years from now is ridiculous.

  211. ThatDeborahGirl July 21, 2011 at 2:42 am #

    @Lollipoplover, on July 19, 2011 at 23:16 said:
    But if any of these moments ended in tragedy, I now live in fear of being charged?

    Only if you’re not white or poor. If you’re Brenda Nesselroad Slaby or Jodie Edwards (upper middle class white women) you can leave your kid in a hot car all day to bake to death and never get charged, let alone have a trial because you have been “punished enough”.

    And I know some of you are going to swear up and down that this woman being black had nothing to do with an all white jury convicting her, so please, save yourself the trouble of arguing back with me. Very few white people recognize racism for when they see it and I have no patience with those who turn a blind eye to the obvious.

  212. ThatDeborahGirl July 21, 2011 at 2:42 am #

    That should say ” or if you are poor”.

  213. sylvia_rachel July 21, 2011 at 2:43 am #

    I know! That mom hasn’t already suffered enough, watching her child killed right in front of her by a drunk driver, so let’s BLAMESTORM!

    Ugh. I feel sick just thinking about it.

    It sounds as though, since she was crossing at an intersection and yielding to traffic by waiting on the median, she didn’t even do anything even technically illegal. But even if she had, she did not kill her child. The repeat offender behind the wheel of the car did that. Knowing that the crossing took place at an intersection, even if not a designated crosswalk (and WTH, the bus stop is a KILOMETRE from the crosswalk? Why??), I’m not sure I’m even willing to concede an error in judgement. Walking a kilometre up to the crosswalk and a kilometre back down on the other side of the streetbusy highway with 3 little kids is not necessarily any safer than crossing at an intersection. But more to the point, the moment an impaired driver enters the equation, there’s no way for anyone else to ensure their own safety. The reason we have laws against driving while impaired is exactly that: an impaired driver is inherently unpredictable, and, because s/he is wielding a ton or so of metal moving at high velocity, therefore inherently dangerous to everyone in the vicinity. That driver could have mounted the median and killed the child (or the whole family). He could have run the red light and killed them in the middle of the crosswalk. Both of these things have happened in the city where I live — which is orders of magnitude more pedestrian friendly than suburban Atlanta. Sometimes stuff happens because pedestrians engage in stupid jaywalking behaviour. But more often it happens because people in cars engaged in stupid/careless/distracted driving behaviour.

  214. Jynet July 21, 2011 at 3:15 am #

    ThatDeborahGirl, on July 21, 2011 at 02:42 said: Only if you’re not white or poor. If you’re Brenda Nesselroad Slaby or Jodie Edwards (upper middle class white women) you can leave your kid in a hot car all day to bake to death and never get charged, let alone have a trial because you have been “punished enough”.

    ThatDeborahGirl, please, please read this article that Carolyn Jayne posted about children and cars before you judge (and do some more research of your own). This isn’t a white/black/purple/poor/rich/immigrant/native issue, it is a brain function issue. And your brain and mine have the same issues, and it could happen to anyone in the wrong situation.

    Carolyn Jayne, on July 20, 2011 at 05:02 said:

    (Thanks for posting this Carolyn Jayne)

  215. SKL July 21, 2011 at 3:18 am #

    Dolly, if you do decide to foster, I hope you get some education so that you will not be judgmental of “imperfect families” in front of your foster children, who will most definitely identify with those “imperfect parents.”

  216. SKL July 21, 2011 at 3:23 am #

    I’m skeptical re the “fact” that nobody on the jury had ever ridden a city bus.

    However, if I am to believe everything I read here (not sure, considering BS seems to spread so much faster than truth), in that neighborhood it’s effectively against the law to be: poor, black, procreator of multiple kids, AND carless. For that, I am very sad.

  217. SKL July 21, 2011 at 3:24 am #

    Oh, and Dolly, I sure hope you never say in front of your foster kids that you think they should have just been aborted at the outset – which is what you said about my children.

  218. gramomster July 21, 2011 at 3:38 am #

    Really effing ridiculous. That poor family. My heart aches.

    LRH, wanted to say thank you for the pointing out that pr-choice means just that; choice. I lost more than 1 pro-choice friend when my teenage daughter got pregnant, despite all the wonderful information and education and clinic access she had, and made the choice to have her baby, and we supported that. Being staunchly pro-choice, well, that meant whatever choice. Yes, it was hard, yes we mostly raised him for the first 5 years, but I’ve not regretted ever that she made that choice. He’s a darling, bright, wonderful child. My world would have less light in it without him for sure and certain.

  219. Donna July 21, 2011 at 3:51 am #

    SKL – I’m sure the attorneys asked the jury that question. In this area, it would not be surprising that nobody had ridden a city bus. Outside of the fact that some city buses go around the university campus so I occasionally got on one to get from class to class, I’ve never been on a city bus. I haven’t stepped on a bus since I graduated college in 1992. I’ve ridden subways, trolleys, and maybe even buses in other cities and countries, but never my city bus in any city I’ve lived in.

  220. ThatDeborahGirl July 21, 2011 at 3:51 am #

    @Jynet – the issue of crossing the street is not a race issue. The issue of her being charged at all and subsequently convicted by an all white upper middle class jury is a race and social class issue.


  221. Kate July 21, 2011 at 4:02 am #

    I’m disgusted that the topic of birth control was even brought up here. As if this accident should have been prevented by not allowing the child to be born.

    That’s a new all time low for the tsk tsk’ers of the world from where I’m sitting.

  222. olympia July 21, 2011 at 5:20 am #

    gramomster- Man, that sucks that your friends abandoned you when your daughter got pregnant- what kind of “pro choice” is that?

    I am extremely pro-abortion rights myself, but I think it’s unacceptable for women to abort because they don’t feel supported in their pregnancies.

    Besides which, as others have noted, the abortion argument is not relevant in this case.

  223. Jenny Islander July 21, 2011 at 6:41 am #

    Dolly, the fact that you listed “got a car” as something the bereaved mother “should have done” suggests that you may benefit from this link:


    If it pisses you off–GOOD. We who could “just” get a car, or even a babysitter, need a kick in the assumptions when it comes to tragedies like this.

  224. Ariel July 21, 2011 at 7:09 am #

    Jenny I,

    Yeah that was the point of my post 05:54. And of course Dolly denied ever writing that, though one of her posts had this clear message “Why would you have three kids when you cannot afford a car to transport them in in a large unpedestrian friendly city?” Dissection of meaning is easy: in a pedestrian unfriendly city you shouldn’t have children unless you have a car. Which leaves out about every metro area, including my Phoenix .

    Guess you should only have children without having a car if you live in a very small town, not that they are necessarily pedestrian friendly either. My area has swallowed Apache Junction, Goodyear, Surprise, et al, and they are no longer the sleepy, lovely little towns where you could walk anywhere. The car has become their ruler too.

    One more time, however the charges breakdown, this verdict should be overthrown on appeal.

  225. Ariel July 21, 2011 at 7:18 am #

    Oh, one more thing, in Phoenix in the 60’s the kids played outside in the summers after the sun went down about 8:00 PM. Doesn’t mean we didn’t play in the sun, but the residential areas saw a lot of kids out once the sun went down.

    The cagers knew it and drove accordingly. Woe be onto them if they didn’t.

    The real guilty party here is the driver. By admission (he sped up for G*dsakes).

  226. Trish July 21, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    It makes me sad because if I was that Mom, I would be devastated over losing my child. The sad message of her conviction is telling the world that here is a mom who must not have loved her child. That would hurt the most.

  227. Jayme Cox Bruce July 21, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    I agree that the city officials, highway designers, etc need to accept some of the responsibility for this. While it may have been a bad decision on the part of the mom, she may have had a very good reason for her decision. I have a physical disability. I am unable to walk more than a tenth of a mile without stopping to rest. I am also a mom to three young kids, who I sometimes have to take shopping. I am fortunate to have access to a car that will fit my family, and that I can drive with hand controls, but if I didn’t I would have no choice but to take a bus. If I lived where this woman does, I would have no choice but to cross at the bus stop. They need to either make that stop closer to the crosswalk, or put one in at the stop. It will help minimize accidents such as these.

  228. Rebecca July 21, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    My first thought when I heard this story was: how is it that Casey Anthony gets off and this Mom gets convicted? Cheaper lawyers? The world is such an unjust place.

  229. Peggy the Primal Parent July 21, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    “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”

    Great words, Lenore. Thank god someone can stand up for people even when they make mistakes.

  230. Andrea Curtis July 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    I live in a capital city in Australia. I don’t drive, so when my two children were small and we had to go places, we mostly walked with or without a stroller, but sometimes used buses, trains or trams. It often took a long time, sometimes the girls got fed up, sometimes it was hot, a couple of times we got drenched (but they loved that!), sometimes we were carrying the shopping, but often it was fun, we saw interesting things, we talked to many people, we helped give directions, the girls learned to read numbers from letterboxes, we chatted about their day at school on the way home. We walked through puddles, and kicked leaves and stones. Once at about two years, my eldest daughter picked up a dried dog poo and handed it to her grandmother!! Twice we rescued an injured possum and detoured to the vet and another time a puppy dog followed us all the way home. Another time one of my daughters walked to school with her shoes on the wrong feet! (I was in a hurry to get out the door that day!). The girls still talk about those occasions. Sometimes we crossed the roads at roundabouts or pedestrian crossings, but other times we crossed where it seemed best at the time. Many times we had to detour into the road because people had unthinkingly (?) parked their cars or trucks over the footpath.The shortest route for walking to school involved crossing a busy (though only 2 lane) road, and the nearest crossing was about half a km in the wrong direction. We took the short route. Even when my girls were in their last year of primary school I didn’t let them cross that road alone, I met them there and crossed with them. However, once when crossing a very minor road somewhere else, the three of us nearly got hit by a car I hadn’t seen as we were crossing against the light. An old lady standing on the other side of the road admonished me severely. I didn’t normally cross against the light but had made a bad decision. It’s easy to make decisions that turn might have bad consequences. Everybody does it from time to time. Luck has a lot to do with what happens. My point is that even though you do the correct thing most of the time, you can still make mistakes. Anyone who doesn’t recognise that is fooling themselves. Anyone could find themselves in that mother’s shoes. Punishing her serves no purpose as far as I can see. On another note, I’d like to recommend that people take up walking and using public transport where possible. You see the world that way, and you might just enjoy it.

  231. gap.runner July 21, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    (from Dolly) LOL Steff. Or instead of being a military widow she could be a total welfare mother who got knocked up on one night stands and refuses to use birth control. Either scenario are just as likely. Actually if you want to do the numbers mine is probably statistically more likely but I am not going to split hairs on that issue.

    (my reply) Is your scenario about the mother being a welfare mom who got knocked up on one night stands more likely because she’s poor and Black? If she was White and affluent, would you say the same thing? I doubt it. By the way, even the best birth control is not 100% effective.

    (from Dolly) I know nothing about this mother or her circumstances so I pretty much have zero judgment of her except that if she can’t hold all the kids hands tightly enough I think she should have used leashes, strollers, crossed elsewhere, had her groceries delivered, got a car, had a babysitter etc so that maybe this might not have happened and at least won’t happen with another one of her children. That is not judging her. That is trying to solve a problem.

    (my reply) Dolly, you are judging her. By saying, “She should have…” you are automatically judging her by your standards. In your perfect world the mother would be able to afford a babysitter, car, and grocery delivery. All of those things cost money that this woman probably didn’t have, which is probably why she took her 3 kids on the bus with her to shop. Leashes and strollers also cost money and strollers are very difficult to bring on a bus. It is also impossible to hold 3 kids’ hands and bags of groceries at the same time. Walk a mile (or take the bus 5 miles with a transfer) in that woman’s shoes and then see what you think about using strollers, leashes, and growing extra arms to carry groceries and hold children’s hands.

    Dolly, in your ideal world, the only people who would be allowed to reproduce are the affluent. According to your logic, about 98% of the world’s population should not be allowed to reproduce. Unfortunately for you, we don’t live in a perfect world. Maybe you need to get out into the imperfect world a little more often and see what reality is for many people. Believe it or not, poor people all over the world love their children and want what’s best for them.

    As I said before, that woman lost a child and deserves our sympathy. She doesn’t need judgement and “she should have done…”

  232. kaleete July 21, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    Gap.runner: “Maybe you need to get out into the imperfect world a little more often and see what reality is for many people. Believe it or not, poor people all over the world love their children and want what’s best for them.”

    Further, poor people all over the world not only love their children, but they also manage to do a fantastic job bringing them up. I say that as a first generation college graduate in my family. My family struggled like hell, I got reduced price lunches in elementary school and wore clothes from the second-hand shops, but there was an incredible amount of love and happiness in my home. My brother and I are both successes who because we grew up living lean, also have fantastic money management skills. According to Dolly’s rules, we would not have been allowed to grow up with the wonderful parents that we did, and that would not have been in our best interest as children.

  233. In the Trenches July 21, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    It’s pretty amazing to me what the human mind is capable of rationalising. An unforeseen event happens, involving a street, some kids, and a DRUNK driver. In any other generation, this would have been the headline: Drunk Driver Kills Child. Mother Grieves. And somehow, now, when we are so safe, so healthy, so educated, that practically all non-self-inflicted dangers are gone from our lives, we rationalise every accident.

    The presumption of perfect safety guarantees that somebody must be at fault for every single accident. “No accident is unpreventable”, say some. No reasonable person would think that. Sure, in hindsight, we’d ALL avoid every accident we ever had, knowing what would happen. That’s normal. Turning that daydream of timetravelling what-if-ness into a reasonable expectation of OTHER PEOPLE is not. I notice that nobody who blames this poor mother is willing to say that every single accident they themselves have ever had was an unforgivable, damnable offence. Or is it only when children are involved that we have a right to such castigation? I meet a lot of parents in my job, and I can say that it is a rare and pleasant surprise when they are able to be somewhat rational on the subject of their children.

    Children aren’t angels; they’re human like their parents. We love them, but they are fallible, and so are we. The child mortality rate in the U.K. fell this century from 14% in 1900 to 0.5% in 1997. Since 1970 in America, the death rate fell in the U.S. by 2/3. We’re doing awfully well, BUT WE WILL NEVER HAVE ZERO PERCENT death among children. It’s so rare for a child to die now (if you don’t live in a developing country, that is…I notice that nobody here is rationalising those kids’ deaths, which still stand at something like twenty or more times the rate we have here. If you want to cast blame for children’s deaths, how come you don’t shoulder the blame for the unconscionable conditions our lifestyle imposes on other nations? Just saying…..mote and beam…..) Every child death in the West is an unusual event, and as such triggers certain reactions in the brains of those who hear about them. I guess it’s a sign that we’re doing so well that people are ABLE to have such pissy reactions to tragedy. I just don’t understand who it is people think they’re helping when they say awful things about other people who have lost kids. Try to imagine, for a minute, being in that situation. Do it without justifying your perfection, as if it couldn’t happen to you. How would it feel? Now imagine that other people have the same feelings as you, despite how different they seem. If we spent more time using our imaginations to strengthen compassion, rather than blunt it, we’d all be better off.

    In an attempt to show my students that we all rationalise our own behaviour and emotions, I gave them a multiple choice survey. One of the questions presented the scenario (a given) wherein they were involved in a car accident that was technically their fault. When asked what the REASON for that accident might have been, only very few admitted that they could conceivably have been distracted or aggressive in their driving. Most, when given the opportunity to choose an option where it was actually out of their control, took it. Remember that the scenario presented it as a given that they were at fault. When the same scenario was presented with one of their peers in the same situation, they were much more likely to admit that their peer was really at fault. We all have this cognitive bias, but there is no way that it should be enforced by law.

    The chain of rationalisation around this event starts with the presumption, for some reason, that a drunk driver is just like a force of nature, a part of the natural environment. Same with what sounds like an almost unlivable urban street design. Can nobody see how sick that is? Drunkenness in drivers is not like the laws of physics, inevitable and immutable. Cars themselves are the single most dangerous thing we humans in the West have to deal with on a daily basis, if you don’t count diabetes, etc. The design of cities to favour cars instead of humans, who use feet to get around, is not inevitable. We’re just embedded in them, so it’s hard to remember that those were choices people made. Bad ones.

    Then the chain goes backwards: The kid squirmed away, as kids sometimes do. This must be the mother’s fault. A leash, say. The intersection was busy. This is also her fault. An extra mile of walking with groceries would have saved her kid. The job she had didn’t give her enough money to have a safer place to live. Her fault. She CHOSE that job, didn’t she? Wait: why did she have kids AT ALL? This is like a moment of inspiration for rationalisers. If the kid NEVER EXISTED, then he couldn’t die. Wow. It’s only a matter of time until somebody realises that if the mother’s primal ancestor had never left the trees, this could all have been avoided.

    Maybe this rationalisation is like a kind of wish fulfillment: We’d all love to imagine a perfect world, where stuff like this didn’t happen. But we need to learn to draw the line between fantasy and reality. Your fantasies of perfection do not get to trump other people’s realities. Your version of what should have happened will not change what did happen. Let’s just feel sorry for this poor family.

  234. HappyNat July 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    Psst Dolly, your privilege is showing . . .

    Just buy a car or hire a baby sitter or have her groceries delivered? Are you for real? It must be nice to live in your world where there are no worries about wondering where the next meal is coming from or if you can make rent at the end of the month.

    It is a nice idea that only financially stable people have kids, really it is a beautiful fantasy. But what about people in poor African villages or in the mountains of Pakistain? Should slaves have been having children? Or people living in sefdom throughout Europe? Or the early pioneers in North America? Your lack of understanding context and the situation of your fellow humans is mindboggling.

  235. Steff Green Jones July 21, 2011 at 10:55 pm #

    (from Dolly) I know nothing about this mother or her circumstances so I pretty much have zero judgment of her except that if she can’t hold all the kids hands tightly enough I think she should have used leashes, strollers, crossed elsewhere, had her groceries delivered, got a car, had a babysitter etc so that maybe this might not have happened and at least won’t happen with another one of her children. That is not judging her. That is trying to solve a problem.

    It is judging! What I am telling you is that if you think it couldnt happen to you you are wrong. I have been taking care of kids for almost 30 years now, as a babysitter, then as a nanny during the 90s and have 3 sons of my own now ages 8, 7, and 2. I am a strong person and a strict parent, I have a neice who is also 7 and is often with us. I have been stopped and admonished by others for holding their hands too tightly(its abusive) swatting their rear end for misbehavior, Even for making them hold the door open for me or for others. I respond that that is my job. To teach them manners and behavior so that they might grow up and be happy well adjusted productive members of society, but I can assure you every one of them and the 8 y/o most often has given me several heart attack moments. And that had the situation happened and it was me and not the black woman NOONE would have thought of charging me with manslaughter. It is a race issue and a class issue and a COMPASSION issue. common courtesy like common sense is often a thing of the past.
    I am often a lone parent. My husband works out of state sometimes for 6 months at a time. I live in a state of harried exhaustion while he is gone. I don’t have the option of delivery for groceries and would assume that it is expensive, I don’t trust very many people with my children especially when you consider the stories you hear….but I do have a car and have on occasion had to drag all three kids shopping. Let me tell you the thought of walking an extra half mile on anything resembling a street is enough to give me a heart attack without even thinking about the tired, hot, 2-3 hour commute+grocery trip….And I can assure you even though my older kids are able to and would likely be holding a grocery bag or two themselves, I would be panicked to stand there with my 2 y/o because there are accidents and they do happen, but I would do it because it has to be done. Sometimes there are not other options. Not every mom has all the answers like you, hell I would even go so far as to say very few of us do, and so we do the best we can with the resources we have available in the situation we are in, We as MOMS in particular need to try to support each other in all of our choices and abilities instead of seizing on something like this and persecuting each other for not being perfect.

  236. Donna July 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm #

    So Dolly, since you said that you can only afford 2 children and you already have 2 children, I assume that any accidental pregnancies (since nothing is 100% effective, it can happen to the best of us) will result in an abortion or adoption. Or is that just other people who aren’t as wonderful as Dolly?

    And I certainly hope that nobody has made you their children’s guardians should something happen to them since you’ll just turn the kids over to CPS since you can’t afford them. Or is that just other people?

    If something an illness occurs sapping all your financial resources, I guess the kids have to go to CPS. Or is that just other people?

    Job loss? CPS time. Or is that just other people?

    It seems to be that you have a very warped view of parenthood. In my family, we make it work through hard times, we don’t just abort our children or send them off to CPS care at the drop of a hat like you expect others to. So much for your dedication to and love of children.

  237. Donna July 21, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    Psst Dolly –

    “Helpful suggestions” to and “problem solving” for people who didn’t ask your opinion or want your advice is being JUDGMENTAL.

  238. SgtMom July 22, 2011 at 3:30 am #

    Dolly: The fact is that poor people don’t hardly ever want to give up their children for adoption because they get welfare and for other reasons.

    Did it never occur to you, Dolly, the MAIN reason people hardly ever give up their children might be that they – just like YOU , I presume….love their children?

    These are human beings you are discussing – not stray cats. Love is an extremely powerful thing most of us instinctively believe in. It’s really the only reason we exist, don’t you think?

    The richest person on earth has nothing if they don’t have love. The poorest person is richer for it.

    My son’s teacher had a plaque that read :”Every mother’s child is beautiful”.

    I grew up with people chiding my parent’s for having too many children, and not having the “foresight” to know someday my father would be injured in an accident.

    I was taken aside by the welfare lady and told a RICH family wanted to adopt me! They would buy me anything I wanted! A pony! Pretty clothes!

    I asked if I could still see my brothers and sisters.

    They have a beautiful house! Yu’ll have lots of friends! was her answer.

    …but will I still see my brothers and sisters?

    I annoyed her by choosing to stay with my family – a decision I have never regretted. My parents LOVED me. I LOVED them, and my siblings.

    Everyone of my siblings – former welfare recipients – are now teachers or social workers, and have spent a lifetime “giving back”.

    Having tot choose between being “rich” or being “loved”, I chose love.

    Maybe you should too.

  239. Renee Aste July 22, 2011 at 3:54 am #

    Thank You Sgt. Mom.

    That being said, unfortunately people share Dolly’s view point which is why the mother is in jail.

  240. Renee Aste July 22, 2011 at 3:59 am #

    How did the world become so ‘unsafe’ we can only have two children?

  241. Jayme Cox Bruce July 22, 2011 at 6:21 am #

    Dolly, I don’t know about this woman, but here, grocery delivery doesn’t exist. Thanks to my spinal cord injury, two years ago (that, btw, was caused by an infection I didn’t even know I had, and couldn’t have been prevented), our financial situation is very tight. I cannot afford a baby sitter. My mom would take the kids, but since she also cares for my grandmother, they would need to go there. I am fortunate to have access to a car that has hand controls to use. If that breaks down and I need to go to the store, the exact accident could happen en route to my mother’s house or back, if I were to use a bus. I can’t afford taxi service. I can’t afford a new car if something happens to the one I’ve got (and it’s old). Strollers are very hard to manage on a bus or train, and if I had a kid leashed and they bolted, they could easily pull me down. And have you ever tried holding on to three children’s hands plus groceries?

    But before you go telling me that I shouldn’t have had children if I couldn’t handle them, let me also mention that my children are 10, 7, and 5. My injury was only 2 years ago, so… they were already here. Not much I could do about that. Oh, and my oldest child has autism. Yet, if the worst happens, and I have no access to a car, but someone needs a doctor’s appt, or we need groceries, etc, I would have no choice but to take the bus. As I mentioned in a previous comment, there is no way I can walk 6/10 of a mile without stopping to rest. I also walk so slowly, that that 6/10 mile would take me an hour. If I were faced with walking that with my personal situation, with my three tired and hungry children, and a load of groceries, and just crossing the road to the apartments directly across, I can tell you I would cross the street. I wouldn’t have much choice. This is why bus stops need to be placed closer to pedestrian crossings. But, anyway, if this same accident were to happen to me, would you place the same punishment on me? For doing something I didn’t have any other choice in doing? For living life and raising my children the best I could?

  242. Staceyjw July 22, 2011 at 7:18 am #

    Let me guess- this mom was not white?
    Am I right?
    Of course I am! Poor blacks and other minorities are jailed for LESS.

    That she was proscecuted should be of so surprise to any American. A black mom with 3 kids that can’t afford a car- better throw her to the wolves, according to the hateful people. Forget that being non white, a parent, and a woman is likely to mean you are in poverty from the start in America. Its also is likely that you are in an area thats not family friendly, with no close, decent, grocery stores. Being in the US ensures you are more likely than not, living somewhere where walking anywhere is a hazard.

    This could be me. While I only have one kid right now, I take him in a stroller to the grocery store all the time, as I can’t drive right now. It’s only half a mile each way, but I have to walk next to a 5 lane, divided road where drivers are going 45+, then cross over the highway, which means crossing the on and off ramps. Awesome! Oh, and I go at night because its 100-105+ all day. at night its merely 90, but at least here’s no brutal sun. But no sun means no one sees us…..

    And crosswalks? And waiting for the walk signal (when they even exist)? You think this is safe- you are joking, right? To cross the 5 lane road, I wait, but the walk sign isn’t even long enough to get halfway across, even while running. Forget that by waiting for it, I sit for 10 extra minutes in the heat, often there are no cars. And drivers don’t pay any more attention to a crosswalk. Unlike in a city, crosswalks on busy suburban streets are barely visible, and lots of people run lights. I guess Im happy for the sidewalks, that are next to the road way.

    But what else can I do? Cabs don’t come all the way out to my neighborhood for a half mile drive. The bus requires crossing the street, and nearly as much walking. I guess can wait for a ride, so long as we aren’t hungry, and someone wants to do an extra errand. Or beg for free babysitting. But we need groceries, so we walk. And hope no one jumps the sidewalk.

    But, Im white. So if a tragedy happens, I probably won’t be in too much trouble.

    This is a disgusting case of injustice, but one that is all to common to non whites. it needs to end.

  243. Jayme Cox Bruce July 22, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    Why would you have three children when you can’t afford a car to transport them in an area unfriendly to pedestrians?

    Well, because sometimes life is really unfair. How do you know that she COULDN’T afford those things when she had those children? How do you know that she didn’t lose her job (lay offs are happening right and left these days), and had to resort to low paying work and sell her car and her house and move into low income housing just to make sure her kids were fed and clothed? How do you know that she, or someone else in the family did not get sick and racked up gigantic medical bills? YOU DON’T KNOW!

  244. pentamom July 22, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    And continuing, how do you know she didn’t live in a pedestrian friendly area and have to move for some reason?

    And most of all, as long as those kids were housed, clothed, fed, and cared for, since when is “adequate transportation for your neighborhood” a basis to decide on whether a child should EXIST or not? Is it really a crime to make choices that make life a little bit harder or more dangerous for you, so long as you are willing to take the responsibility? Should the economically lowest 30% of humanity not even EXIST?

    I’m not so much baffled that someone could make these arguments, as I am in thinking about the kind of person who could make them and still think of herself as a good person who cares about kids, rather than someone who just thinks certain kind of people shouldn’t be allowed because she despises them.

  245. Donna July 22, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    Or why is your assumption that she unemployed and on welfare? Because she’s black? It could be that she works and supports her family completely on her income. Maybe she doesn’t own a car because she refuses welfare and it takes all her income to support her family. Maybe, like me, she chooses to work at a low income job in order to help people instead of focusing on her own material wants.

    Why is your assumption that she doesn’t have a car? Maybe it’s in the shop. Kids still have to eat. Cabs/babysitters may not be affordable with the upcoming repair bill. Maybe her husband – yes, Dolly, low income black people do marry – had to have the car for work.

    And her reason for living in the pedestrian-unfriendly burbs is probably the same as yours – a better environment for the children you think she should have aborted. Should low income people only be allowed to live in the gang-infested, crime-ridden inner cities because that’s where the good public transportation is ( and where Dolly can’t see them)? They are not allowed to seek a better life for their children?

    And what about people like me – highly educated people who CHOOSE to work in public interest jobs at a low income? I have a car but certainly can’t afford a babysitter just to go shopping or food delivery. If my car was in the shop and I couldn’t find a ride, I’d have to take a bus to get food with kid in tow. And I’m not married to boot. I guess I should have aborted my child as well.

  246. Donna July 23, 2011 at 1:18 am #

    I do wonder about the many people who posted basically excuse the mother but fry the driver. You are still looking for someone to blame. It can’t be that this was just a horrible accident. Someone must be blamed.

    The driver may or may not have been drinking. I think he admitted to drinking earlier but was not convicted of DUI. He did leave the scene of the accident and appears to have a history of doing so and was convicted of that. It doesn’t appear that the driver was ever charged with vehicular homicide so there was no indication that, drinking or not, he did anything whatsoever to cause the accident. Drinking does not automatically equal fault (ask my friend who got nailed for rear-ending a drunk driver). A small child darted out in front of him. Could happen to anyone. It’s possible that his reaction time was slowed due to alcohol. It could be that the child would have been killed anyway. We’ll never know. Just like we’ll never know if the child would still be alive had he been on a leash or they had crossed at the light.

  247. pentamom July 23, 2011 at 3:40 am #

    “Maybe her husband – yes, Dolly, low income black people do marry – had to have the car for work.”

    Oh, My. Goodness. All this time I was assuming that people wouldn’t be describing her as a single mother unless the news reports said she was — and at least, in the article Lenore linked to, it doesn’t say.

    So now there’s just an ASSUMPTION that’s she’s a single mother because she’s black and low income? A strong enough assumption that not only can it be assumed, but then we can go on to say that it’s “more likely” that she’s never married than that her husband left her either voluntarily or involuntarily (death, military service, etc.)?

    Wow. Sure, it’s not unlikely that she is a single mom, because there are a lot of those in the world. But to just leap to that assumption and then make it a further basis to look down on her….ick.

  248. Dolly July 23, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    Thanks for putting words in my mouth to fit what you want to think about me. I am very pro choice but personally anti-abortion since it kills a sweet baby. I would rather see a baby born and then given to adoptive parents than aborted if the parent doesn’t want the baby or cannot care for baby. So please don’t put that abortion love crap to my name. Abortion is an option, just like adoption is an option. It is up to each person to decide what to do for themselves.

    For the poster who asked: I am not going to get accidentally pregnant. I have an IUD which is extremely effective. I am also infertile so even if I got pregnant somehow since I was not taking special medication I would lose the baby anyway. So accidental pregnancies are not an option for me. But, thanks for reminding me about my medical problems.

    I did not know what color she was when I made my statements about not understanding why she would have three kids and no way to transport them around safely in a non pedestrian friendly area. So that makes your racist comments go byebye. Someone brought up her color way way after that.

  249. Dolly July 23, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    And someone said that the jury was made up of people like me and that was why she was found guilty. Except I stated NUMEROUS times that I would not have convicted her!!!!! So you owe me an apology. If I was on that jury it would have turned out differently. I would have voted not guilty to those charges but would have asked the judge if they can get her some counseling and/or parenting classes and some counseling for the siblings. Oh nos! I suggested counseling, string me up folks, I must be a monster!

  250. Steff Green Jones July 23, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    Dolly, the point is you may not get accidentally pregnant, but some people DO. It is possible to get preg on an IUD, my OB got preg with TWINS with an IUD. IT CAN HAPPEN, All three of my pregs were accidental…we weren’t trying nor were we preventing…I had been told for 15 years that I couldnt get preg and I would NEVER carry to term. We got preg on our wedding night because we had no idea whatsoever that I could get pregnant. I am not trying to be mean, nor remind you of your problems, but I had been told after having the first picture perfect preg over 30, to not get excited because chances of it ever happening again were none, that they did not know how I got preg once. Well crazy of crazies, we got preg a week later, and had 2 kids by our 2nd wedding anniversary. our youngest shocked us completely in 08. trust me at 37 hearing that I was 4 months preg completely threw me, but I never once considered an abortion or putting him up for adoption even though it was going to throw us for an economic loop. He was coming and he was ours. It has been a strain, especially considering my husband was in a horrible car accident while I was pregnant and lost his job because of it. He had to go through job retraining and physical therapy and because of issues related has been out of work 19 of the last 25 months. Does that mean I should give my kids up???? Do you know the kind of psychological damage that could cause to kids? To suggest that because they have less money they should now give them up….give me a break. Counseling for this poor mom is not likely to make her any less poor if that is what you were suggesting,

  251. Donna July 23, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    Nobody owes you an apology, Dolly. Your contempt of and sense of superiority over low income people (and just about everyone else that isn’t Dolly) is repugnant, regardless of whether you would have convicted this particular woman or not. You put your opinion out there. You don’t get to demand an apology after we tell you your opinion is objectionable to us.

  252. Jayme Cox Bruce July 23, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    Donna, I agree. The most the driver should have been convicted for was driving under the influence, and hit and run. When someone gets involved in a car accident, they don’t say to themselves, “Gosh, I think I’ll go smash my car into someone else’s today! That sounds awesome!” I highly doubt this guy left his house intent on killing a kid, either. It was an accident, plain and simple. Yes, it might have been avoided if he hadn’t been drinking. No, he shouldn’t have fled the scene. Yes, things might have been different if Mom had walked her tired brood down to the crossing. But no matter what choices either of these people made, no one meant to harm that baby.

  253. Jayme Cox Bruce July 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    If you mean counseling because her baby was killed right before her eyes, then I support you. If you mean counseling because not crossing at a cross walk somehow makes her a bad mother (and I’m assuming you do because otherwise, why on earth would she need parenting classes?)… I don’t even know how to respond to that. I don’t know about anyone else, but if jaywalking with her kids is the worst parenting decision she’s ever made, I certainly don’t think we need her to be taking up space in our already overly populated prisons. Her daughters who have been left to grieve for their brother would be further traumatized, and would be forced to go into the also overly populated foster care system. Not to mention the fact that this mom has already suffered enough in having to witness what she did. And since this particular story is really all we know about this mom, we have no choice but to assume that this is the worst parenting decision she’s ever made.

  254. Uly July 23, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    Thanks for putting words in my mouth to fit what you want to think about me. I am very pro choice but personally anti-abortion since it kills a sweet baby.

    Except that pro-choice means accepting everybody’s choice. You may be politically okay with people having abortions, but if you’re going around judging them for NOT having abortions that’s ALSO not pro-choice.

    It’s possible to be politically pro-choice and personally think abortion is wrong or that people shouldn’t have 20 kids, but to then go around insulting other people is just hypocritical. There are some opinions that are politer to keep to yourself.

    For the poster who asked: I am not going to get accidentally pregnant. I have an IUD which is extremely effective. I am also infertile so even if I got pregnant somehow since I was not taking special medication I would lose the baby anyway. So accidental pregnancies are not an option for me. But, thanks for reminding me about my medical problems.

    The poster was speaking hypothetically. What if your IUD failed (it CAN happen, that’s how I was conceived, and my mother’s response was a lot like yours, shocked and amazed) on the same night that the condom broke (whoops, should never have bought discount condoms (my sister learned that the hard way, though luckily without any pregnancy!), but hey, they seemed like a good deal at the time!) and your infertility magically cleared up. The last is staggeringly unlikely, but we all know of ONE person who got pregnant when they would’ve sworn they couldn’t, maybe you’re that one-in-a-million. (With 7 billion people in this world, one in a million means that there are 7,000 people walking around who have “beaten the odds” for… anything that requires a one in a million chance.)

    I mean, after all, if you’re that infertile, why the IUD? I’ve heard of backups for birth control, but for infertility? People do that because weird things happen in bodies sometimes.

    I did not know what color she was when I made my statements about not understanding why she would have three kids and no way to transport them around safely in a non pedestrian friendly area. So that makes your racist comments go byebye. Someone brought up her color way way after that.

    You’re right, I guess you weren’t being racist. You were just being classist. That’s not actually any better.

    And someone said that the jury was made up of people like me and that was why she was found guilty. Except I stated NUMEROUS times that I would not have convicted her!!!!! So you owe me an apology. If I was on that jury it would have turned out differently. I would have voted not guilty to those charges but would have asked the judge if they can get her some counseling and/or parenting classes and some counseling for the siblings. Oh nos! I suggested counseling, string me up folks, I must be a monster!

    You suggested parenting classes, and then kept insisting that you’re not judging her and don’t think she did anything wrong. Well, which is it? Her parenting is just fine and you’re not judging her, or you think she needs classes? Pick one and stick with it!

  255. Uly July 23, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    Oooh, forgot to close a tag there. Well, Dolly knows which part is hers.

  256. SKL July 23, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    Re the drunk driver. Not sure I agree that he should not be charged with vehicular manslaughter. It depends on the facts. Driving is a major responsibility and rules are there for a reason. Speed, not DUI, and watching what’s happening around you are requirements. If you kill a child while DUI or driving carelessly, then you are guilty of manslaugher – otherwise, there’s no such thing as vehicular manslaughter.

    I read that witnesses say he sped up when he saw the child. Maybe he was going for his brake and hit the gas instead. From what I’ve heard, he was probably impaired by medicine and alcohol. The hit-and-run tells me that he knew he was guilty (as well as an SOB).

    There needs to be a serious deterrent to reckless/negligent driving. Otherwise there will be a lot more accidents. I don’t know about you guys, but I always drive pretty slowly if I think there might be kids around. Kids standing on the median? I’d be slowing down and/or moving over. There are some things you don’t take chances with, and driving around kids is one of them.

    To me, the question is, was it entirely the child’s fault or not? If a child darts out between two cars and could have been killed whether the driver was careful or not, then the driver is not guilty. If the facts indicate the driver’s careless behavior or condition contributed to the crash, he’s guilty, even if the child was also doing the wrong thing.

  257. Dolly July 23, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    Putting words in my mouth YET again and ignoring what I wrote. I said several times above that they all could use counseling to deal with the fact that they saw their family member killed right in front of them. I know it makes you happy to make me out to be a monster, but you are outright lying to yourself when you claim I meant something or said something when I didn’t. She could also benefit with some coping skills and better ways to deal with her circumstances which counseling can also provide. I am sure the woman is very stressed because I would be stressed taking three kids out on a bus for groceries and coping skills/relaxation skills would help her with that.

    There is a BIG difference in having a child for 2 years and then becoming poor and keeping the child and I am pregnant and broke but I am going to keep this baby anyway. In one circumstance you were okay when you first had the baby and in the other circumstance you were NEVER okay to care for it on your own yet you kept it anyway and that is nothing but selfishness.

  258. Donna July 23, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    SKL – I agree that it depends on the facts of the case. In this case it appears from the actions of the police and DA that the facts did NOT support charging him with vehicular manslaughter since there is no indication that he was ever arrested or prosecuted for that crime, just DUI. It’s not as though they weren’t looking for people to prosecute for this kid’s death, nor that they are easy in crime in Cobb county. A felony (what the driver would have been facing) is better than the misdemeanors.

    Many idiots hit and run. Alcohol need not be involved. I represent idiots who run from accidents (usually just hitting other cars) regularly. It appears that this guy does this since he has a history of it. I’ve had a couple clients who just freak when they get into accidents or get stopped by the police and run. Bizarre behavior but some people have bizarre behavior. Or he could have been drunk.

    I don’t know where the info came from that he was even drunk. Was he drunk when they found him? That does not mean that he was drunk when he drove. Did people see him drunk immediately before he got in the car? Better evidence. We know that the DA was not confident in his ability to convict him of DUI since that charge was dropped (DA highly unlikely to drop a DUI that results in the death of a child unless he really has to. He is an elected official).

    Many things contributed to this boy’s death and the boy was definitely not 100% at fault. The mother choosing to cross where she did contributed. The actions of the driver may have contributed. The fact is that none of us were there. We don’t know if the driver was reckless or negligent or just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Outrage that he wasn’t prosecuted doesn’t match what we know about the facts and seems like looking for someone to blame for what may have just been a senseless accident.

    Watching for kids in a school zone, neighborhood or park is one thing but I don’t think the driver can be faulted for not anticipating kids standing in the median of a 5 lane road in an area that is not a crosswalk. It’s likely that he didn’t see the kids until it was too late.

  259. Dolly July 23, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    Well since the chances of me becoming pregnant and actually carrying the baby to term on my own are pretty slim I am not too worried about accidental pregnancies yet because we are smart and responsible,. we put in the IUD as a backup just in case. See if we can handle backing ourselves up I don’t know why everyone else can’t handle it. One form of birth control is usually not enough if you are super fertile. We also use pull out a lot since you want to get personal. So yet another backup plan to prevent it.

    If I did get pregnant and was able to carry, then we would probably keep the baby but we would have to scale back on nice things for our current kids to afford a new kid and that is something I don’t think is fair to our current kids. No more fancy birthday parties or zoo memberships or museum memberships, etc. We are not that well off now, like lower middle class but we live cheaply so we can afford luxuries for our kids. If we could not afford to pay for the child period, then we would choose adoption. I had always said if I got pregnant before I was married and had money, finished college, etc I would happily choose adoption.

  260. Steff Green Jones July 23, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    Dolly the thing is, its a thought. Once you get in that situation sometimes things change. To be so judgmental and outspoken about it and from some of the last things you added, you sound youngish to me, Maybe life experience will open your mind a little. All those luxuries you mention, are awesome, but heres a secret…in most cases they are not any more expensive for a fam of 5 than for a fam of 4, and its usually cheaper to buy the membership for family than to visit one time….I promise…
    As for fancy birthday parties…who cares? the kids don’t….my kids have been to all kids and the favorite?? the one where the mom gave all the kids water guns and a hose at a park and just let them play and shoot each other and chase each other for 3 hours. Get over yourself. You are not the only person in the world with all the answers…your answers are faulty. They are like true communism and true capitalism, fabulous economics both on PAPER, but neither one can truly exist in real life because humans, emotional, faulty, non perfect humans get in the way.

  261. Myriam July 23, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    Dolly, it sounds to me like if anyone should be giving coping classes, it’s this unfortunate woman herself. The mother was dealing with pressures that many people, including, most likely people running parenting classes, could barely conceive of. For all we know, she was coping well with her situation.

    However something went wrong, as things tend to do. Depending on your perspective: her child was hit by a drunk driver/she made a bad decision that day/there was an accident. Parenting classes couldn’t prevent any of the above and I hate the way they have become a panacea.

  262. gap-runner July 23, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    (from Dolly): Well since the chances of me becoming pregnant and actually carrying the baby to term on my own are pretty slim I am not too worried about accidental pregnancies yet because we are smart and responsible,. we put in the IUD as a backup just in case. See if we can handle backing ourselves up I don’t know why everyone else can’t handle it.

    (my reply): There you go again, judging the rest of the world by your standards. I find it ironic that you say you are anti-bullying, at least from your posts in the thread about the 14-year-olds who sat on other kids’ faces. But you are taking on the role of a bully when you sit on high and judge the rest of us. One of the characteristics of a bully is someone who thinks s/he is superior and lets others know it.

  263. SKL July 23, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    Re Dolly’s request for an apology. YOU brought up how “responsible” you are about avoiding an unwanted pregnancy. You can’t complain if others then make reference to your personal fertility. Frankly, hearing that you are infertile-ish reduces your credibility, because you really can’t know for sure whether you might have an unintended pregnancy if you were Fertile Myrtle.

    As for giving the baby up for adoption just because of finances – very poor arguments. You should travel to a developing country, where the vast majority of kids have less than our poorest here in the USA. They are SMILING all the time. Know why? Because they know the love of their family and the wonder of discovery, and everything else pales in comparison. And if you give them ONE shiny little trinket, they will feel rich! Our kids in the USA are missing out on true joy because they are so spoiled. Less is more, I say.

    You should understand that if a baby is separated from his birth mother, that is a big loss for the child on many levels – even if the separation occurs at birth. The losses are baggage for the child for his whole life, though some deal with it better than others. Some adoptions end up so stormy that they are disrupted, with the child ending up in “the system.” As an adoptive mom, perhaps I have a heightened sense of awareness in this regard, but it really bugs me when people talk so flippantly about adoption. Of course it is better than abortion, but if the mother wants the child and the child will be safe and have basic needs met, it is wrong to disrupt the family. There are plenty of other policies that could be changed to alleviate the tax burden of poor families having kids. After all, adding one child to an existing family does not need to cost much.

  264. pentamom July 23, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    “No more fancy birthday parties or zoo memberships or museum memberships, etc. ”

    Yeah, better not to live at all than go through life without museum memberships!

    Those things are nice, even genuinely valuable if you have access to them, but better not to live at all than to do without them?

    Do you realize that those things are and have been out of the reach of many very happy people, not merely the poor of the modern world, but throughout history? And I’m not merely talking about them being modern amenities — the equivalent of having the money and time to spend on amenities like that was unavailable to 99.999% of all humans throughout all history, including most people who were wealthy by the standards of their own age. To make that a benchmark of whether you’re giving your kids an acceptably decent life — wow.

    Don’t misunderstand — I have had thoughts that if we had another child, there would be a lot of things of that nature, and more, we would have to give up (though we’ve lived without “fancy birthday parties” and “museum memberships,” for all of the 20 years we’ve had kids, although a membership to our small local zoo is actually a bargain because it gets us into the big metro zoo 2 hours away for free and costs less than one day’s admission would be there), and it would be painful, and I wouldn’t like it. But the idea that having those things is something that any “sensible” or “responsible” person would naturally place over having another child is repugnant.

    And like everyone else, I’m not going to apologize for thinking your opinions are repugnant. I don’t believe I’ve slandered you personally.

  265. Cindy Stewart July 23, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    @Donna; since it seems that posts with more than one link have to go through moderation and that takes some time, I was wondering if you could follow up on one of your posts.

    While researching this on ajc.com I saw the original description of the arrest of Guy following the hit and run, it says that he was charged not only with the hit and run, but with 1st degree vehicular homicide, cruelty to children and other charges. Obviously, they didn’t have enough to make any other charges stick, and since his blood alcohol would have been of no use. He did admit to using alcohol and painkillers, but obviously it is impossible to tell his level of impairment at the time. What would have been necessary to make the argument for 1st degree vehicular homicide? Especially in light of the fact that the mother was not only charged with but convicted of, 2nd degree vehicular homicide.

    In general, following up on this story (more information in other issues of the ajc) has made it even more tragic from my personal point of view. The woman was celebrating her birthday the next day, so took the kids out for pizza, then stopped and bought groceries and a birthday cake, and apparently a goldfish that the little boy ,A. J. was carrying in a bag in one hand.

    They missed the connecting bus, and that’s when things really started to go wrong. They got home later than anticipated, and it was getting (or had become) dark. Multiple people exited the bus at her stop, directly across from the apartments but with no sidewalks or crosswalks. While standing on the median, another bus rider decided to run across the road. A.J. took the cue to start moving as well. This finally makes some sense of the report that the driver then flashed his light and sped up. I never could understand how anyone would aim directly at a 4 year old. If he indeed, did these things – I can only expect that he was trying to annoy and throw a scare into the adult (or teen) crossing the road unwisely. He didn’t anticipate actually hitting her, but it easy to see that if he was paying attention to her, he may very well not have seen the slower moving and shorter child.

    Then to add insult to injury, the mother panicked – as anyone in their right mind would. She called to the boy to stop, then realizing the driver was not going to slow down, yelled at him to go. A second’s hesitation that may have cost him his life and which she will replay in endless loops for years. Trying one last thing to save her son she ran into the road. In Hollywood movies, she would have been hit and her child would have survived, but this wasn’t Hollywood She and her 2 year old daughter, whom she was probably still clutching, suffered only minor injuries but the boy died.

  266. Rich Wilson July 24, 2011 at 12:09 am #

    @Jayme Cox Bruce and others.
    The word ‘accident’ is controversial in such cases. It’s still common in journalism, but becoming less so with reporting agencies. The problem is that ‘accident’ implies both lack of intent (which is true of virtually all car collisions that don’t involve insurance fraud) and avoidability. When we say it was “just an accident”, we infer not only that it wasn’t intended (we probably already knew that) but also that nothing could be done about it, which absolves drinking, distraction, speeding, traffic engineering, etc. I’m in favor of not using ‘accident’ unless the facts are known and point to truly an ‘act of God’ like a falling tree or a bolting child.

    I’m in favor of not using ‘accident’ unless we really know it was an accident, but the counter argument is that NOT using ‘accident’ fosters a culture of blame, and that then people are less likely to disclose important facts.

  267. SKL July 24, 2011 at 12:58 am #

    To Dolly, I also want to add that giving a child a sibling may be better than giving him a lot of “things.” Many believe that the more siblings a child has, the better prepared he is for life with fellow humans. The development of multiple, varied, unbreakable connections between a group of humans is very important. Many of us believe that spending limited time segments with other kids (e.g., daycare, cousins) does not do as much good as having siblings who are part of their lives 24/7, through thick and thin, good times and bad.

    So one more reason why the thought that babies should be eliminated for the benefit of would-be siblings is completely alien to me.

  268. SKL July 24, 2011 at 1:00 am #

    And for the record, my parents had little other than their 6 children. Personally I have always felt blessed that they had #5 and #6 in particular, as caring for those little ones was the best part of my childhood. Hand-me-down cloth diapers and all.

  269. pentamom July 24, 2011 at 1:01 am #

    Rich, I think the problem is that the standard of “unavoidability” is too high for calling something an accident.

    Or to put it another way, what does “avoidability” mean? Is it avoidable if, given everyone acting perfectly immediately preceding and during the crisis, it could have been avoided? Or does it makes more sense (and I think it does) to recognize that ordinary, flawed people, acting in a non-negligent and legal fashion, may (and probably will) fail to do everything right, thus resulting in an accident which *may have been* avoidable, but in the real world really was not?

    If you can only call an accident something like a bolt out of the blue, that just puts way too much responsibility on people to act perfectly, when both common sense and the law recognize that people cannot be held to that standard. But I do agree it’s wrong to call something an “accident” if people were knowingly engaged in genuinely negligent or dangerous behavior, such as intoxication, extreme speed, misuse of dangerous equipment, etc. There does have to be some distinction between what a reasonable person should know better than to do given adequate time to think about it, and a bolt out of the blue.

  270. Donna July 24, 2011 at 4:28 am #

    @ Cindy Stewart – 1st degree vehicular manslaughter requires proof if DUI or reckless driving. If they can’t prove the DUI, which it doesn’t seem like they could, then they don’t have 1st degree. And the DUI has to have contributed to the death. For 2nd degree they have to prove negligence. It sounds like the boy may have darted out in front of the car and there was no negligence on his part.

    DUI is very hard to prove without a valid alcosensor or blood test. The validity of the tests would depend on how long after they found him. Painkillers, if by prescription, require an even higher level of proof.

  271. ACsMama July 24, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    Ok, I haven’t read all the comments, but has no one else noticed that the MOTHER was hit by the car, too? along with the siblings? The 4yo ran out into the street, following another pedestrian, the mother yelled for him to stop, then to keep going, then ALL of them were hit by the car (didn’t the driver admit he had been drinking/taken pill that could have impaired his judgement earlier? But they probably couldn’t prove DUI since he flad the scene and it seems by the time they caught up to him whatever he had in his system would have been gone). That means the car hit not only the kid in the roadway, but the 3 other people who were IN THE MEDIAN. By the link someone else posted earlier outlining the laws concerning crossing the street in GA, only the 4yo was at fault (the rest of them, including the mother, waited in the median as they should).

  272. SKL July 24, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    It seems to me that hit-and-run ought to be treated as a more serious crime. I mean, who the hell rams his car into a whole family of people and drives off, not bothering to see if something might be done to help save someone? What if the child had a chance to survive if the guy stopped, e.g., helped stop the bleeding while the mom lay injured, drove kid to hospital, etc.? How can someone not care whether or not they killed a child – aside from the fact that it could land him in jail? And yet the mom is attacked for procreating. Ugh.

  273. Donna July 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    “That means the car hit not only the kid in the roadway, but the 3 other people who were IN THE MEDIAN. By the link someone else posted earlier outlining the laws concerning crossing the street in GA, only the 4yo was at fault (the rest of them, including the mother, waited in the median as they should).”

    I don’t necessarily think that is true. The boy darted off the median after another pedestrian. The mother may very well have stepped off the median to chase her son after he fled. She was holding the toddler. Also the driver could have lost control of the vehicle in a vain attempt to not hit the boy. There is no indication that the driver swerved onto the median and hit the mother and the other children because he was drunk. The mother and other child suffered minor injuries so it is not as though he mowed them down too.

    “It seems to me that hit-and-run ought to be treated as a more serious crime.”

    I agree, particularly in the case of someone hitting a pedestrian. I’m not interested in throwing the book at someone who hits a parked car and leaves but hitting a pedestrian and fleeing should probably be a felony.

  274. Rich Wilson July 25, 2011 at 4:04 am #

    There’s a petition to ask the judge to not give the mother any jail time:


  275. Rich Wilson July 25, 2011 at 4:16 am #


    Bringing my heart into this- I’m a cyclist. And although getting hit from behind by a passing motor vehicle is statistically very rare, very often the cyclist is well lit and riding legally in their own lane, and for some reason the motor vehicle ends up in the bike lane, and the cyclist ends up dead. And it’s just a tragic accident since obviously the driver didn’t intend to kill the cyclist. Sometimes there’s a slap on the wrist charge. And a great deal of sympathy for the driver “who has suffered enough”. And I get the logic behind “shit happens” and there’s no point in essentially getting revenge. You can’t bring that the dead.

    But I also think too many get behind the wheel and don’t take their responsibility seriously enough. If I were the dictator, drinking or talking on a cell phone while driving would be punished severely enough that they would be exceedingly rare.

    I don’t think we should punish drunk drivers for being unlucky enough to have a four year old run out in front of them. We should punish drunk drivers for driving drunk, and potentially killing someone. For me, the punishment should fit the part you have control over (driving drunk) not the outcome (someone happened to die). But, the punishment SHOULD fit the POTENTIAL outcome. Driving drunk, you’re more likely to kill someone, so driving drunk, you should be punished for the extra risk that you are putting on everyone else.

    Good thing I don’t make the rules, because I know they’re not practical. But this is my heart talking.

    (re-reading this I guess I’m also saying that drifting into the bike lane and near missing a cyclist should be punished as if you had hit the cyclist. And that one, sadly enough, is sometimes fully intentional)

  276. pentamom July 25, 2011 at 5:06 am #

    Rich, does the same apply every time someone on a bike in a moment of inattention swerves in such a way that it almost causes an accident between a couple of cars?

    Should that near miss result in a double murder charge? Do you realize no human being would be walking around free by that standard?

    Don’t misunderstand, I’m not excusing inattention. I’m saying that people make mistakes — we can still CALL them mistakes, still say people are responsible for the ones they make, without structuring the law based on the fallacy that people don’t make them. Why should the law be based on the lie that honest people don’t make mistakes?

    Mistakes are different from willfully foolish or dangerous decisions to engage in drunkenness or talking on the phone. I’m talking about a second’s confusion or inattention.

  277. rhodykat July 25, 2011 at 5:30 am #

    I was going to post the link to the petition supporting the mother, but that’s already been done.

    While I’m here, I just have to comment on Dolly’s “I am not going to get accidentally pregnant. I have an IUD which is extremely effective” statement. My good friend had a very effective IUD – so effective, she thought, that she went ahead and scheduled a tummy tuck, knowing that three kids was more than enough for her.

    Now she has four, and a not-so-tight tummy. She loves that fourth, but still shudders and thinks evil thoughts when she sees the IUD commercials on TV touting how effective they are. Having a fourth was NOT on the order of business in her life.

    If God REALLY wants you to have a baby, you’re going to have that baby. My husband had a vasectomy, and both of us still say “barring God’s sense of humor and a really bad doctor, we’re done” – you never know.

    FWIW – it’s a jury full of people like Dolly that got the mother in this situation in the first place.

  278. Donna July 25, 2011 at 6:25 am #

    “We should punish drunk drivers for driving drunk, and potentially killing someone.”

    And we do. Driving while drunk is a crime in every state precisely because it could kill someone. It’s a crime in my state that requires mandatory jail time, community service and classes that are not found in any other misdemeanor. I’m not sure what enhanced punishment you want. Since driving sober is not a crime, the fact that driving drunk is a crime means that we are punishing the action.

    “I’m also saying that drifting into the bike lane and near missing a cyclist should be punished as if you had hit the cyclist.”

    Sorry, but the law doesn’t punish you based on what COULD happen; it punishes based on what DOES happen. As it should be. We can all think of a million things that COULD happen. If we let our children cross the street and they ALMOST get hit by a car, should we be prosecuted for vehicular homicide like this woman? Of course not. Maybe we should start prosecuting people just for thinking about committing crimes too. Biking and driving is no different. You don’t get a ticket for ALMOST running a red light. You get a ticket for ACTUALLY running a red light. Drifting into the bike lane and NEARLY hitting a cyclist is punished as drifting into the bike lane and NEARLY hitting a cyclist, not as though you ACTUALLY hit the cyclist. Think of it this way. If I accidently veer into a bike lane and know that I’m gonna be punished exactly the same regardless of whether I hit the biker or not, why should I swerve out of the way to avoid hitting him at that point? I’d like to think that respect for humanity would make me choose to swerve but I might be in a pissy mood one day and decide that if my life is now screwed, I’m taking him with me. Since people are not perfect and are occasionally distracted while driving, you’d have a whole lot more traffic accidents if ALMOST breaking a traffic law lead to the same punishment as ACTUALLY breaking it. Most people are not going to make last ditch efforts to avoid running stop signs, red lights, proper yields, etc. if the result is exactly the same whether they NEARLY commit the act and they ACTUALLY commit the act.

  279. Ariel July 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    Regarding cyclists:
    In my state the bike lanes end before the intersection, the obvious meaning is the cyclist must merge left into the right lane. This also means they have to observe and honor the right turn of the vehicle in front of them when they have to merge. Do you have any idea of how many times I have had to slam on my brakes to avoid a cyclist going past me on the right? Even though I, not they, have the right-of-way?

    I ride as a cyclist, a motorcyclist, and drive a cage. The most egregiously stupid and arrogant are the first two; the most dangerous, inattentive, and arrogant to the first two is the last. Fault all around.

    Pedestrians can be as bad. I drive my children to school and pick them up. I was taught as I child, in the late 50s, that I had to be aware and careful on the streets. I could count on my fingers and toes, as well yours, how many kids have crossed in front of me without looking whatsoever, as well give me the “look” or the finger because I almost hit them (the finger ones hear from me). My HS daughter says that too many of her friends think it’s the driver’s responsibility, after all they can sue if they get hit because it isn’t their fault. Hate to tell them they can lose by their own negligence, not to mention that money doesn’t compensate for loss of use of limbs or brain damage. Free range kids know better, so I can only assume her friends are products of helicopters.

    Again, I must say since so much of this has to do with crosswalks, every intersection has a crosswalk whether marked or not. It is pretty much standard across the US unless your state specifically calls a crosswalk “marked only”, and I haven’t found one yet so please enlighten me.

    IIRC, the driver sped up before hitting the child, as well did a hit-and-run. The mother isn’t to blame here. Maybe the driver isn’t either, as the 4 yo did the run, but aren’t we as drivers, and riders, supposed to slow and become cautious in such a situation?

  280. Rich Wilson July 25, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    “Driving while drunk is a crime in every state precisely because it could kill someone.”

    But not the same penalty as actually killing someone.

    “Sorry, but the law doesn’t punish you based on what COULD happen”

    No need to apologize, but perhaps you missed my “If I were the dictator” bit. I wasn’t talking about reality. I know the way the law works.

    I admit my drifting into the bike lane example is a bit extreme. Happy to take that one back.

    Maybe these examples will make my position more clear. If not, then we’ll have to disagree. Which is fine. I’d be a horrible cop because I’d let nothing go. I don’t really expect anyone to agree with me!


    Cyclist Abe runs a red light, and a car swerves to miss him, NEARLY but not ACTUALLY hitting Abe or any other cars. Cyclist Ben runs a red light, and a car swerving to miss him ACTUALLY hits another car killing the other driver. Abe and Ben did the same thing. Should their punishment be the same?

    How about Ryan gets his blood alcohol up to .196%, then drives his Porche at 132 MPH but is pulled over before he kills anyone.
    John Doe gets drives with a BAC of .10, runs a stop sign and kills a pedestrian.

    Was John’s crime worse than Ryan’s?

  281. kaleete July 25, 2011 at 11:44 pm #

    “Cyclist Abe runs a red light, and a car swerves to miss him, NEARLY but not ACTUALLY hitting Abe or any other cars. Cyclist Ben runs a red light, and a car swerving to miss him ACTUALLY hits another car killing the other driver. Abe and Ben did the same thing. Should their punishment be the same?”

    Initially, yes, they both failed to obey a traffic control device. Ben may be charged with more because of the death that ACTUALLY happened. You cannot punish Abe for a crime that he did not commit.

    “How about Ryan gets his blood alcohol up to .196%, then drives his Porche at 132 MPH but is pulled over before he kills anyone.
    John Doe gets drives with a BAC of .10, runs a stop sign and kills a pedestrian.
    Was John’s crime worse than Ryan’s?”

    Yes and no. They both drove drunk and disobeyed traffic control devices. Ryan didn’t kill anyone, so he should not be punished for it.

    According to your argument, merely driving a car is grounds for being locked up for vehicular manslaughter. Every second a car is on the road there is the potential for running stop signs and red lights and speeding. Should every person caught driving a car then just pre-emptively get a traffic ticket for crimes they MIGHT commit while driving? Of course not! Your logic makes no sense to me in this case.

  282. Donna July 26, 2011 at 12:07 am #

    ““Driving while drunk is a crime in every state precisely because it could kill someone.”

    But not the same penalty as actually killing someone.”

    Because nobody died!! You can’t prosecute someone for murder because “well someone could have died.” Good grief; we already have the largest prison population (by a large amount) in the developed world (and probably one of the largest in the entire world) and you want to put people in prison for crimes that didn’t actually occur?

    Yesterday I ran a stop sign. I wasn’t drunk but I was doing something for my kid and didn’t see it until it was too late (it was a dumb stop sign). Nothing happened. There was no wreck. Nobody died. Nobody even came close to death since there wasn’t another car at the intersection. Under your theory, I should now go to prison for vehicular homicide. My life should be ruined and my child should go into foster care. Because running a red light COULD kill someone I should be punished as if I did.

    “Was John’s crime worse than Ryan’s?”

    Yes, because the result was dramatically different. Because of Ryan’s actions a person no longer exists. John may have lucked out because he got caught before someone died (although odds are he would have made it home without killing anyone), but society is better for that. We don’t want to people to die senseless deaths.

    I suppose your idea is a deterrent factor. Let’s be reasonable. Everyone knows DUI is a crime. Everyone knows that DUI greatly increases your risk of being in a wreck and killing someone. Every single time someone gets into a car drunk he knows that he risks the possibility of getting stopped by police and going to jail or killing someone and going to jail. Yet, every day many people assume those known risks and drive drunk. Most of those people think either (a) they are not over the legal limit to drive; (b) they know they are over the legal limit but believe that they can still drive fine and nothing will happen; (c) they know they are over the legal limit and can’t drive worth a damn but the odds of them getting stopped or killing someone are actually miniscule so they’ll take the chance. How is an increased penalty going to change that thinking? The fact is that a very small number of people who drive drunk ever suffer any penalty at all. They make it home without getting stopped by the police or getting into a wreck. The people who drive drunk already like their odds of not getting stopped or wrecking (or else they wouldn’t have gotten in the car to start with). An increased penalty is unlikely to change the odds analysis in their minds. Increased arrests might.

  283. Rich Wilson July 26, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    “According to your argument, merely driving a car is grounds for being locked up for vehicular manslaughter.”

    No, that’s not my argument. Running a red light is illegal. Driving a car is not. I’m talking about penalty for actually breaking the law. I’m not talking about creating new laws.

    “Yesterday I ran a stop sign. I wasn’t drunk but I was doing something for my kid and didn’t see it until it was too late (it was a dumb stop sign).”

    Good point. I guess I’m really more bothered by pre-meditated law breaking. And I know that invalidates my own drift into the bike lane point, since people don’t generally intend to drift out of their own lane. And yes, I know there are a lot more cyclists who decide to run stop signs. I’m equal opportunity 🙂

    “An increased penalty is unlikely to change the odds analysis in their minds. Increased arrests might.”

    True. As I keep saying, I didn’t say my gut was logical on this.

    “Yes, because the result was dramatically different.”

    What I’m getting at is the penalty being related to the choice you made, not the choice you didn’t make. As it is, your penalty is largely dictated by things outside your control.

    Back to our poor mother, she chose to cross the road at that point, but a) that was legal and b) I think considering how often it happens, and how rare it is that people get killed doing it, it could be considered a safe decision. The mother is being penalized for the dramatically different result, not what a reasonable person would expect as the result.

    A large part of a drunk driver’s penalty is based on the actual result of their action, not on the reasonable prediction of the result of their action. And I’d say the same is even more dramatic for cell phones. Even texting while driving is a minor slap on the wrist, unless you kill someone.

  284. CEllis July 26, 2011 at 3:25 am #

    There’s an online petition for Raquel Nelson here:


    Please consider signing it!

  285. Donna July 26, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    But can you say that someone dying is a “reasonable prediction” for drunk driving when the vast majority of people who drive drunk don’t kill anyone? Isn’t the “reasonable prediction” that you will make it home without a tragedy because that is, in fact, what happens most of the time? If we punish every DUI as if someone died, we are punishing every one based on the worst and rarest result.

  286. Sunny1 July 26, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

    God love this woman and her children. Please let common sense prevail

  287. Rich Wilson July 26, 2011 at 2:12 pm #

    ok, last post from me, because we’re getting nowhere. This conversation has made me re-think and change (somewhat) my position, but I think we’ve arrived at the agree to disagree point. At least for me.

    I think the penalty should be based more on the part you have control over, and less the part you don’t. Maybe not 100:0, but much more towards the choice part than it is.

    If drunk driving is really all that safe, then maybe people who do happen to kill someone while driving drunk should not be punished so severely. Mostly I don’t like the amount that luck plays into it. In fact, from my rough completely unscientific survey, your penalty also seems to depend on who you kill. For example, hitting a mom or a veteran will get you more time than hitting a homeless person. And if you happen to be a hot-shot investment banker who’s 7 figure income depends on having no felony convictions, you can get off without even being charged (ok, that one wasn’t DUI, it was asleep at the wheel hit and run)

    And in this case, what role did her choice come into play (she chose to cross the road, along with the other passengers, and thousands of people every day across America) and what part was beyond her control (the drunk driver and other passenger darting out). I think that she was even charged means she’s penalized for the part she didn’t have control over, or else at the very least, everyone else who crossed the road with her would have been charged.

    Bottom line, the penalty should be more for the choices we make, not our bad (or good) fortune.

  288. Dolly July 26, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    rhodykat: Bull. I said 10000 times on this thread that I NEVER would have voted yes to her being tried if I was on the jury. Way to go for reading comprehension. She was not guilty of the crime they charged her with.

  289. Donna July 26, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    Dolly, None of us here have a reading comprehension problem. The “people like Dolly” is a reference to your complete lack of empathy for and hatred of poor people and your belief that they should not even be allowed to reproduce as expressed in several different threads on this blog and not just this one; not what you say you would do specifically in this case. Further, you don’t truly think she was not guilty. You think she did something to deserve parenting classes, therefore has some degree of guilt.

  290. Dolly July 27, 2011 at 3:53 am #

    Donna: Everyone can benefit from parenting classes. I took the birthing class, new parents class, breastfeeding class, adult/infant/child CPR before I had kids. Lots of my friends did too. Even good parents can benefit from them. I read childcare magazines and books to make sure I knew everything I needed to know. I still read books about how to parent better like “Free Range Kids” and I just bought “Last child in the Woods.” I also just finished “The Bully, The Bullied and the Bystander.” I am CONSTANTLY educating myself to be the best parent I can be. Why anyone else would think they are so awesome that there is not possibly ANYTHING they could learn to do better than they are the ones who are too full of themselves.

  291. Donna July 27, 2011 at 4:40 am #

    Yes, Dolly and you do that by CHOICE because you enjoy it and, apparently, have money to spend on classes and books and a way to get to said classes. Being ORDERED into parenting classes that you have no money to pay for, no transportation to and no money for babysitters for your remaining children, as you would have liked this woman to be, is punishment. It being suggested that you NEED parenting classes is insulting.

  292. Buffy July 27, 2011 at 5:16 am #

    Way to backtrack Dolly….that might be one of your greatest skills in your rockin’ and rollin’ life.

  293. SKL July 27, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    Dolly – Not that I accept your excuse – but just humoring you for the moment: even if you believe that parenting courses are the best thing that ever happened to you, YOU don’t get to decide that OTHERS need to take them. Regardless of what their socioeconomic status is.

    I had to take classes as part of qualifying to be an adoptive or foster parent. Some of them were good food for thought, while others were designed for people who had never cared for a child before – “this is how you change a diaper” – pretty lame for many attendees. Thing is, it was MY choice to go down that path.

    And usually from what I gather, “parenting classes” which parents are forced by the courts to take focus on how not to abuse and neglect your kid. So yeah, sending her to such a class is equal to saying she was a shitty mother. Can we agree there is no need to add insult to injury here?

  294. Uly July 27, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Why anyone else would think they are so awesome that there is not possibly ANYTHING they could learn to do better than they are the ones who are too full of themselves.

    Well, Dolly, apply that to this forum. Because as far as I know none of us has seen you, ever, attempt to understand another person’s point of view, or learn from something they say, or consider any advice any of us ever gives. If everybody is mad at you, it’s not because YOU made a mistake or YOU were unclear – it’s because we’re too sensitive! (You don’t need to learn to communicate better, we need to understand you better?) If anybody ever makes a parenting choice different from yours, it’s not that their choice might be better for their situation, or there are any other ways of raising kids – it’s because they don’t put as much effort into it as you do!

    And I know that this is not a flaw limited to you. We all of us make our choices confident that they’re the best ones. (I hope so anyway! Why choose to do something if you think it’s the worst option? Stupid.)

    But everybody else here, I know I’ve seen them, all of them, at least ONCE reconsider their views. They don’t always change their minds, but at least once everybody has been willing to have a conversation where they disagreed with somebody but they were at least making an effort to look like they wanted to know why they disagreed, rather than just be right. Not every single conversation, but at least one time. And just about everybody else here has, at least once, been willing to drop a conversation when it was clear they were coming off badly and it was only upsetting everybody.

    So I don’t know. Maybe you read a lot about parenting, and put it into practice, and learn a lot. But judging from the comments you make here, I don’t see you applying that philosophy to another area of life. (And of course, your way of improving your parenting is best. It’s not possible that other people have time constraints, or read slowly, or can’t afford to take parenting classes, or have other interests, or think they’re doing a stand-up job as it is. And it’s not possible that court-ordered parenting classes are in any way different from optional CPR courses and a few reads of popular books!)

  295. Dolly July 27, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    And to turn it around, has anyone on this site ever apologized to me or admitted they were wrong when it came to me? I will give Uly credit for agreeing with me and sticking up for me yesterday. But let’s just say everyone who has got into it with me has not all had such a moment.

  296. Donna July 28, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    Maybe nobody here has “admitted they were wrong” when it came to you because nobody has actually thought they were wrong. And maybe nobody has apologized because they don’t think they have anything to apologize for. I know you often DEMAND apologies and say you are OWED apologies but that doesn’t mean that the other person agrees with your assessment of the situation.

  297. Rich Wilson July 28, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    “Maybe nobody here has “admitted they were wrong””

    Good point. Finding out that you’re wrong can be painful, but very valuable. I have a goal of discovering I’m wrong more often. Unfortunately, I also have a bad case of SIWOTI syndrome. But knowing I have a problem is the first step.


  298. Uly July 28, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    Dolly, one thing about me, I don’t have to like you personally to stick my oar in when I think you’re in the right. (Or at least not in the wrong. People who know me elsewhere know I’m a great giver of totally unsolicited advice, although I recognize that this is a character flaw even when the advice is totally awesome, and am working to overcome it or at least do it more tactfully! In truth, I’m a huge buttinsky. But then, maybe you already knew it….)

    As for apologies, if you want them, you have to deserve them. People aren’t going to apologize to you when you were the one who offended them. Even if they ARE wrong, which isn’t even necessarily the case. (Indeed, I can’t think of any incident involving you where it dragged on and you were obviously right and they were obviously wrong. There are few enough situations like that in the real world as it is.)

  299. Ariel July 28, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

    There is a thing called hubris. I’m glad you’ve read “all” the parenting books, but have you and your husband showered naked with your children? That was a “Dr. Spock” recommendation back in the 50s and 60s. He was the authority on the subject of “child-rearing”, and my wife’s parents followed his recommendations. Sadly, my wife still compares me to her father.

    Reading books on parenting only means you’ve read books on parenting and a lot of them are really, really bad. Went through it 17 and 15 years ago and they were wrong, stupid, and damaging, and we are still dealing with the fall-out of “experts”. The Japanese view that you should “run (or walk) on flowing water” is superior to that of the experts.

  300. Shawn April 15, 2012 at 9:43 am #

    This whole thing about charging someone with a crime they didn’t commit. I will say that, I truely don’t agree with it. She is a very strong woman. I know this because.She is my bestfriend, my kids godmother, that has a very large good & caring heart. She will do anything to help a person if she can. She goes over & beyond & will do all that is neccessary for her 3 kids. I know how she has been treated it wrong the charges brought up on her are also wrong.
    All we can do is continue to do all our prayers. I know this will be corrected soon. I know god will do all things possible in life. He has had she back & he will continue. Just wait & see!!!!! I would personally like to thank all of u for understanding what is going on in her life right now. She may not have seen this but me being her friend. I know she would be thanking you guys for the support. Thanks again.

  301. Shawn April 15, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    I also meet to add that this drunk driver that killed her so, my godson. This is his 2nd drunk driving hit & run & under a perscription drug. Who was silly enough to let this man go a 2nd time? Why is he not in jail this is what alot of people don’t know. His excuse was he thought he hit a tree. Hitting a tree is wrong also. He got off on a 2nd hit & run. What judge lets this type of thing happen. Is the judge a friend of the drunk driver or did he/she just start off bad that morning? What is it I know alot of people would like to know how this charge ended up on a mom that has always made sure she did right every day of her life. Thanks again.

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