January 16, 2013

A "pedestrian who did not even own a car could be convicted of vehicular homicide in the death of her 4-year-old son..."

"After a long bus trip with her three young children in April 2010, Raquel Nelson did what other bus passengers did that day, and had done so many days before: She attempted to cross the road from the bus stop, which is directly opposite her apartment complex, rather than walk a third of a mile to a traffic light, cross five lanes and walk a third of a mile back, lugging tired children and groceries."

52 comments:

Revenant said...

This is why I laugh when people say the criminal justice system exists to protect us.

sydney said...

Prosecutorial over-reach. When will these lawyers be stopped?

Alex said...

Isn't it bad enough she lost her son? God has already punished her.

MadisonMan said...

I walk all over the place in Madison, and bad traffic design is everywhere. It's like the people designing roads don't know that pedestrians exist. Try, for example, walking west along Regent at the Monroe St intersection.

Pogo said...

The law is not merely an ass but an asshole.

It is capricious and mean, permitting Gregory and Obama license unlimited, while us schlubs can be prosecuted at whim.

I have no respect for the law left. It is but a farce, a joke upon us.

Leon said...

the writer quiet rightly takes the city planners to task for bad urban design what they don't bring up is that the mother was in the right. last i checked pedestrians have the right of way. so she was jay walking i guess but that is to be expected. i still say she is in the right.

edutcher said...

And the Lefties laugh at the idea of a revolution in this country.

Mary Beth said...

From the article that is linked to in the first paragraph of this article - "They were both hit by Jerry Guy, who admitted to drinking and taking pain medication that day. A.J. was killed. Guy, who had been convicted of hit-and-run twice before, pleaded guilty to the charge once again. He served six months in prison."

CDubs said...
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chickelit said...

This is sad and pathetic. Leave the mother alone.

YoungHegelian said...

I feel bad for this poor woman, but here in the suburbs of DC, the jay-walking pedestrian business is just out of control!

I have personally witnessed a Latino (generally the worst offenders and most frequent victims) woman cross 6 lanes of Georgia Ave at rush hour with a child at hand & a babe in the arms.

In Montgomery County where I live, there are more pedestrian fatalities than murders each year. The drivers are rarely charged because the pedestrian behavior is so outrageous.

There have even been pedestrians killed trying to cross the Beltway (8 lanes) in P.G. county!

Everyone's Mijo said...

I'm not comfortable with the premise that situations like this would decrease if the city was designed "better". In this situation the driver was intoxicated and could have easily struck a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Also, I believe that there is a over reach of "justice" here. However, if something could have been designed "better" or "safer", is there no consequence or responsibilty for a person who acts negligent or reckless with something that could have been designed safer. For instance, if someone was speeding in a car and injures another, is the driver not responsible because the car had the ability to reach a speed over the posted limit.

Everyone's Mijo said...

Also, will there not always be some destination made closer or more convenient to get to if you do not go to the crosswalk. It would be impossible to put a crosswalk everywhwere. Something will always be "6/10ths" from a crosswalk.

traditionalguy said...

The death was not a Vehicular Homicide, but it was an involuntary homicide by causing the death of another while committing a misdemeanor of jay walking.

She was offered a plea to probation but refused to admit to doing anything wrong. It became her against the Judge, woman to woman

Atlanta's black community using black prosecutors and black female judges can be harsh to poor black women for being bad mothers. This has been a pattern since the 1970s. I don't understand it, but maybe they do.

Somebody needs to back down. I hope it's Judge Katherine Tanksley.

Coketown said...

This makes me want to dust off my copy of Sim City 2000 and build a city according to the author's designs. I'll have bus stops at every intersection and intersections at every bus stop. If there is a location that might attract pedestrians, like this woman's apartment complex or a convenient store of bowling alley or bakery or gynecologist's office, there will be a crosswalk in front of it. And cars will have to stop at every crosswalk.

We'll see if the congestion is worth it. If even one digital child's life can be saved, I have a duty to do what I can.

Coketown said...

The scare-quotes, or squotes, sprinkled throughout the article were amusing. Like "accidents." Giving the impression that city planners designed the city explicitly to kill children. "This was no accident!"

Methadras said...

3 felonies a day. read it. we are all basically unconvicted criminals.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

If it had been a school bus, the drivers would have to stop. But it was a city bus, so they don't. Where's Coase when you need him?

Everyone's Mijo said...

"Transportation officials and local planners routinely create the very conditions that underlie these “accidents” and allow them to persist."
So, once again I suspect that a Democrat is bitching about how thw govenment has failed and not just the people, but the "poor" people. Hmmm...Can wait til health care officials are creating conditions that underlie “accidents".

Nelson was found guilty of killing her son by crossing the road in the “wrong” place. So...was this the "right" place.

"[Transportation officials] who ignored the fact that pedestrians always take the shortest possible route but somehow expected them to walk six-tenths of a mile out of their way to cross the street?" Come on transportation officials, try and atleast show the same contempt that the writer of this article and other govenment offials have for the american people. All Pedestrians will walk into on coming traffic....DUH!!!!

I don't know...this article bugs me on so many levels!!!

jr565 said...

The law is often an ass. But I really have no opinion of the case really. Probably prosecutor overreach but I don't really know too much of the details of the case.
And yes the mothers child was killed, but if she were responsible or partially responsible she would face jail time or a fine if she was negligible. Her kid dying shouldn't unite her from responsibility.

Ony it seems like the drunk driver is actually the one responsible or primarily responsible. Jay waking may be a contributing factor. But if there weren't a drunk driver involved, would it actually have been a factor.

I have no idea. I'm trying come up with some anger for someone somewhere, but really can't take sides.

Wally Kalbacken said...

Jerry was just a guy, a guy who liked his liquor, and fast cars. Never cared much for pedestrians though.

Heather Bragg said...
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AllenS said...

I guess you could say that the prosecutor is doing it for the children.

Robert Cook said...

"This is why I laugh when people say the criminal justice system exists to protect us."

Does anyone but an idiot or a shill for the justice system say this anymore?

Robert Cook said...

"Prosecutorial over-reach. When will these lawyers be stopped?"

They'll be stopped only when the public's outrage is aroused to the point where the prosecutors are afraid for their jobs.

Or, when juries stop believing they're their merely to rubberstamp the state's arguments and decide they're not going to convict their fellow citizens of such obviously trumped up charges.

Chris said...

This just sounds like an example of terrible judgment on the mother's part - but not a criminal act. Afterall, if bad judgment were a criminal act, two-thirds of our politicians should be in jail.

Chris said...

This just sounds like an example of terrible judgment on the mother's part - but not a criminal act. Afterall, if bad judgment were a criminal act, two-thirds of our politicians should be in jail.

Haiku Guy said...

The solution to this configuration is to move the bus stop closer to the intersection and crosswalk, not to create another crosswalk. If the bus stop was 200 feet from the intersection, it would be reasonable to expect a pedestrian to walk to the crosswalk and to cross with the light. If there absolutely must be a bus stop a half mile from the nearest crosswalk, there should be a pedestrian barrier down the middle of the median to prevent predictable jaywalking.

Colonel Angus said...

This kind of overzealous prosecution is simply the evolution of a justice system that demands that somebody pay, even if it was a tragic accident.

But hey, when you vote for bigger government this is what you get.

Renee said...

My stomach turns reading this. Can't stomach it.

john said...

This is how California handles it.

john said...

Cookie,

Was there anything in that article that indicated there was a jury trial?

That's your neck of the woods, right?

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

Just another reason that gun ownership and procreation should be licensed by the State - like driving. The State should take control of any any human beings born of unlicensed parents.

Do that, and we'd see no more of these unfortunate happenings.

mamawolf said...

This is one of those articles where the writer demands that "something" be done. It is extremely sad that the child is dead and the prosecutor is going after the mother. The prosecutor seems to also feel that "something" needs to be done. Sending this woman to jail will neither bring back her child or further punish the driver who seems to have gotten off fairly easy.
Too many people want nothing bad to ever happen and that is not realistic. My home town spent 600,000 thousand dollars building an overhead walkway for a school. There was a guard at the crossing and NO child had EVER been hurt, but the agitators insisted that the crossing be build to save a child in the future that might be hurt. The school closed a few years later due to low enrollment. The fact that the school was due to close was known at the time the money was spent/wasted in building the crossing. When are liberal reporters going to realize that our country is broke, and we can't solve every problem. Also, barriers to pedestrians don't work. I saw people crossing our 6 lane highway with a pedestrian barrier in the middle on a regular basis. Some did not make it.

bearing said...

The solution to this configuration is to move the bus stop closer to the intersection and crosswalk, not to create another crosswalk.

Yes. If there was a bus stop deliberately placed, not at an intersection, but across from an apartment complex, I would assume that the people who placed the bus stop did so specifically in order to allow people to cross directly to the apartment complex. Maybe there was some miscommunication between the Department of Bus Stops and the Department of Crosswalks? But this really does sound like very poor urban decision-making. The fault can be spread around to many people in this story, but redundancy is how complex systems are made more safe. It is still instructive to point to ways in which future urban planners can, without much trouble, subtly discourage dangerous pedestrian-vehicle interaction. (If the bus stopped only at the intersection, there would only be half the "long" walk out of the way, and zero temptation to cross in the middle of the street.)

Peter said...

I was thinking of WisDOT's design for downtown Oconomowoc- a once pedestrian friendly area that now has about 0.6 miles along the main street (Wisconsin Ave) without a controlled pedestrian crossing.

The highlight of the recent rebuild was a roundabout where Walnut St crosses Wisconsin Ave. There used to be a traffic signal with a push-to-walk feature here, now there's the roundabout.

To cross the roundabout (in any direction) pedestrians must walk across four lanes of traffic- and trust that drivers will obey the "yield to pedestrians" signs.

If you view this intersection on Google Maps, those white triangle-shaped areas are not curbs, they're just paint. And, really, drivers in roundabouts tend to be looking just about everywhere except for pedestrians- who are not, after all, part of the traffic flow.

I'm guessing this will remain unchanged for the next twenty years- or until a child is hit by a car.

Bryan C said...

Why does anyone in a civilized society need access to a vehicle that holds more than 6 people?

Mitchell the Bat said...

It was God's will.

Big Mike said...

Back when I lived in Montgomery County Maryland (home to YoungHegelian upthread) I gradually came to understand that the Maryland agency responsible for traffic signals requires the sacrificial blood of an innocent child before they place a traffic signal.

One case in point was the intersection next to the nearby middle school. No matter how often the middle school PTA and the PTA from the adjacent elementary school and the homeowners asociations whose kids walked to those two schools argued for a traffic signal, the answer was always that the traffic volume on the six lane divided highway that ran in front of the school did not justify a signal. Eventually the inevitable happened and a child was hit and killed coming home from school. Work began on the traffic signal that same week.

Kohath said...

The Washington Post writer makes a lot of ridiculous assertions. Are we really going to make pedestrians another grievance-based political victim class?

Also, why not leave the children at home with their father while you go out for groceries?

EMD said...

Guy, who had been convicted of hit-and-run twice before,

Guy must be in the hit-and-run hall of fame.

EMD said...

Also, why not leave the children at home with their father while you go out for groceries?

Fathers? Are they necessary?

Big Mike said...

@bearing, what you, and the Washington Post propose, would require traffic planners to have elementary common sense. Now if we make that a criterion for being hired then how would we get any bureaucrats hired at all?

Think before you write, son. Think before you write.

Thorley Winston said...

I have to agree with jr565. The responsibility for the death of the child is with the driver (who was impaired and driving above the speed limit) and the pedestrian who jay-walked instead of using the cross-walk. I don’t know that I would have brought charges against the pedestrian but she does bear responsibility for her actions and should have taken the deal that was offered to her.


As far as what the purpose of the article, reading further the author is shilling for more federal funding for creating “safer” streets on the dubious theory that because federal funding may have been used to fund the street, those of us who pay federal taxes should now be on the hook for any modifications or improvements to said streets indefinitely because it’s a “national” priority.

Thorley Winston said...

As far as the location of the bus stop, I’m not a city planner but I have ridden the bus before and (more importantly) driven behind them. If a bus pulls over to the side in the middle of a city block, it’s fairly easy for me to pass safely around the bus without disrupting the flow of traffic or risk hitting a pedestrian who isn’t trying to cross directly in front of a bus that impairs my view. However if a bus stops at an intersection, I’m not going to be able to see anything to the right of the bus including cars travelling in the intersection or passengers crossing in the cross walk going the same direction as the road I’m travelling on. Not only could this disrupt the traffic flow, it’s dangerous for drivers and pedestrians alike.


The fact that the bus stop was located directly from her apartment building doesn’t mean that she was intended to cross the street there but that she was supposed to walk to the cross-walk and cross there. She chose instead (as I’m sure a lot of people do) to instead take the more direct route even though it’s illegal and less safe. It seems to me that separating the bus stop from the cross walk is probably a better design overall but there are always going to be some individuals who decide that breaking the rules benefits them personally (less walking distance) even though it also creates a greater risk of harm for themselves and others.

Mary Beth said...

If they are looking for people to blame, why not the adults that her son was following?

"The family walked without incident to the three-foot median in the road. As they waited on the median for a break in traffic, Nelson’s son A.J. followed other adults who crossed ahead of them."

Big Mike said...

@Thorley, your first paragraph makes excellent points, and I find myself in agreement with the first sentence of your second paragraph.

But after that I find that your analysis breaks down. First of all, the article says that the bus passengers had to walk 6/10 of a mile out of their way to cross the street. If you do the math, that's well over a quarter mile to get to the cross walk, and over a quarter mile to get back. That's asking a lot of people, and common sense would argue that essentially no one will do that. The way the bus stop was set up may have made it safer for the drivers, but it guarantees that people will jaywalk. I have a problem with rules and with urban plans that force people to disregard them.

Second, what's wrong with putting a signal there at the bus stop controlled by a push button so it's only activated when there are pedestrians who need to cross? Might that inconvenience a motorist or two or three? Probably. But I think it's a good tradeoff all in all.

jr565 said...

Robert Cook wrote:

"This is why I laugh when people say the criminal justice system exists to protect us."

Does anyone but an idiot or a shill for the justice system say this anymore?
I'm wary when the far left and right are both in agreement on something. Usually it means its an extreme position.

Now, even of we assume that this is a miscarriage in the system it doesn't mean that we should laugh at the idea that the criminal justice system exists to protect us.

Guns are there to protect us, yet how many people are kiled accidentally with guns? Tht doesn't mean we should do away with all guns.

It's an imperfect system. Since its adversarial I don't know how it could be otherwise. Sometimes the prosecutor overreaches, sometimes the defendant gets away with under. Sometimes the right verdict is reached.

What other system of dealing with criminal justice do you propose other than what we have?

Is it an indictment of Obama's justice system? Well, maybe. But you could find such cases in any administration really.

Amartel said...

Over. Reach.
Also cruel.

It's the WaPo so, of course, there automatically needs to be a screechy blame on Republicans:

"Some in Congress, such as Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), are attempting to kill the small slice of funding dedicated to projects that make it safer to walk or bicycle. As the vast majority of these dangerous roads were built under federal programs, fixing them to be safer should be a national project. A fund for safety retrofits should be part of the transportation bill under consideration."

I don't know and I'm too busy to find out but is the Republican the only one who is "dedicated to killing the small slice of funding" for walking/biking safety? Would that small slice of funding have made this crossing safer? What states is it being distributed to? For what projects?

The person who was driving recklessly on a city street killed this child. Not the mother, and not the insufficiently progressively funded road.

Rick Lee said...

I recall this story... it's several years old. Why are we talking about it now?

RigelDog said...

I followed several of the links back and from the info provided, this sure looks like prosecutorial overreach. The accident had absolutely nothing to do with crosswalks or traffic lights. A four year old suddenly ran out into the road; he and his family had crossed to the concrete median and the mother was waiting until it was safe to cross when her son did something that young, impulsive kids sometimes do. She ran out after him and they were both hit by a driver under the influence who had TWO prior hit-and-runs. The same thing could have happened had they walked a third of a mile down the road to the actual crosswalk--which according to one article I read, does not even have a light.

JAL said...

They need to practice a boatload of so called "prosecutorial discetion" here and leave this mother alone. It's not like the mom was the drunk driver.

Good grief.