Tag Archives: motorist fatality

Are Cars Dangerous?

Superhuman-sized objects moving at superhuman speeds are dangerous. Inherently. But who bears this danger? Motorist liability insurance is one supposed motivator; in theory motorists are supposed to bear the cost of the risks they are inflicting on others, but has many limitations (see e.g. The Disneyland Model). In reality this risk-spreading ends up socializing the costs of driving — paid for by others, subsidized, also called an externality. Thus we get more driving, because it is artificially cheap, and more traffic death and destruction.

It is worth pointing out to nervous cyclists that the large majority of traffic death and destruction is done by drivers of automobiles to other motorists (see, e.g. the chart here). This is to be expected, of course, since the large majority of traffic is motoring.

Here are a couple of  recent, local incidents… out of control “accidents” all —

Girl critically injured, was standing on the sidewalk, May 6, 2011: Deette Lynn Perry, 54, was arrested Friday after she was discharged from the hospital, where she had been admitted following the May 6 incident, Sgt. Steve Martos of the Phoenix Police Department said. Perry was in a 2004 Nissan Altima near Thomas Road and 23rd Avenue when she drove onto the sidewalk and struck a 17-year-old girl, Martos said. Police suspect Perry was impaired by drugs, Martos said. The girl suffered a fractured pelvis and severe head injuries, Martos said.

Another:

Tourist killed at Phoenix intersection The Arizona Republic, Glen Creno – Aug. 19, 2010

An Australian tourist crossing a Phoenix street was killed late Tuesday when a sport-utility vehicle slammed into him, authorities said Wednesday…The SUV was moving so fast the victim was dismembered by the impact. Witnesses told police the vehicle apparently ran a red light…Ramzy Khalil, 29, of New South Wales, Continue reading Are Cars Dangerous?

Christmas Eve ’07 crash trial, verdict: guilty

This has been a long and arduous journey legal journey (continuing on as of 2014 still dealing with pcr motions. And I see a number of pro per motions in Oct 2016).  The human and societal costs are staggering.

For starters, one victim, a motorist, dead. A number of injured motorists. The suspect, locked up since the crash on December 24, 2007.

Christopher Lee Smith, 32 years old, stands accused of DUI and manslaughter in a wrong-way, head-on collision on Pecos Road near 14th Street in Phoenix, AZ.

According to the Ahwatukee Foothills news story; “At the time of the crash, Smith was on probation for a previous misdemeanor DUI…” Continue reading Christmas Eve ’07 crash trial, verdict: guilty

Who is at fault in a left-turn collision?

A high profile collision involving a school bus turning left at a signal, still under investigation — the news article doesn’t let on who the police believe is responsible for the collision that killed two motorists. The collision occurred in Phoenix at Union Hills Drive, and 12th Street. The speed of the car was reportedly excessive. The bus was turning left, and the car was straight-through; this is a signalized intersection; the news story doesn’t give any indication of the status of the signal. Continue reading Who is at fault in a left-turn collision?

Drunken driver Sentenced in Cop’s Death

Salvador Vivas-Diaz was sentenced to the maximum of 16 years in prison after being found guilty of manslaughter after driving drunk and hitting Phoenix PD Officer Shane Figueroa head-on. The officer was responding to a call at the time.

Traffic collisions, not, say, guns, are the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths of police officers. See: More Police Killed by Traffic than Guns.

Negligent driver who killed 5 gets 1-year sentence

At this stage, with the investigation into Allen Johnson’s death still pending — there is understandably a lot of conjecture regarding what charges may be brought, or not brought, as the case may be.

I’ve seen this movie before, and the outcome is (almost) always the same — there are only two things that (reliably) bring criminal charges. They are DUI and leaving the scene.

If the exception proves the rule, and I think it does, take a deep breath and read the results of this quintuple homicide. This case gives one answer to the question: exactly what can a negligent driver do (besides the two aforementioned things) to get indicted for murder?

Laurie Roberts did a great job of bringing this story to light in her column (alternately see Laurie’s blog and entry on the same subject and the aftermath). A news story ran in the East Valley Tribune.

The synopsis is, in case the links to those stories disappear: Robert Logan Myers III plead guilty to five counts of Neg Hom stemming from a collision where he was speeding and ran a red light colliding with a left-turner. In the deal where he got 1 year in jail (the nominal sentence would be 5 time 2.5 years), work release for 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, payment of restitution of about $451,000, 4 years of probation. No mention of his driver’s license — of course how would he get back and forth from jail every day without one?!

The outcome of this, albeit highly unusual prosection, makes me wonder if pursuing criminal charges, heretofore what I considered the “holy grail” of holding someone responsible is the way to go. There must be a better way. ??

28-672 in the news

Prosecutors routinely decline to prosecute negligent drivers who kill/injure. Nearly without exception, they will only seek homicide (i.e. negligent homicide, or manslaughter) / aggravated assault charges if the driver is impaired. Short of that, the hurdle, in the minds of prosecutors, is very very high.

Arizona has no vehicular homicide law, it does however since 1998 have a law, §28-672, ” Causing serious physical injury or death by a moving violation” (and some companion laws 28-675 and 6 which work in an analogous fashion). The catch is that in order to be charged with 28-672, the driver must have been engaging in one or more of a specific list of infractions. For example, running a red light. Continue reading 28-672 in the news

Pecos Death Trap?

UPDATE SEP 22,2010: AFN reports that that there was an injury wreck at 32nd and Pecos resulting from a “bad left”. The 17 y.o. EB driver turned left into the path of the WB driver, who was injured “seriously but not life threatening”. Bad lefts were the cause of both a 2003 fatality and a 2007 very serious injuries; both of those were at 40th and Pecos. Continue reading Pecos Death Trap?

Driver arrested in quintuple(!) fatality — excessive speed and red-light-running alledged

A driver was arrested on suspicion of five counts of manslaughter (see homicide categories) and 3 aggravated assaults. What makes this unusual is the absence of suspicion of DUI. We shall see what the prosecutor does with it. This is a tantalizing comment: “data recorded when the truck’s airbags deployed substantiated detectives’ findings that Myers was driving at ‘an excessive speed,’ “. Data recorder? We (the public) often hear that these sorts of crashes are tragedies but not crimes — because the prosecutor claims that they can’t prove anything. Continue reading Driver arrested in quintuple(!) fatality — excessive speed and red-light-running alledged

Double Jeopardy and Flawed Logic

ARS §28-1592 specifies the time limit for bringing a civil traffic violation. Sort of like the “statute of limitations” for traffic tickets. The normal limit is 60/90 days, but for alleged violations when there is a wreck and investigation the limit is 180 days, and extends to a full year if a fatality is involved.

The rub is that police (cities? jurisdictions?) won’t issue complaints for a traffic violation if there is any sort of ongoing investigation, an incipient neg hom/manslaughter charge for example… and these things do seem like they can drag on forever. They appear to do this in an overabundance of caution — claiming “double jeopardy” issues. As far as I can tell there can be no double jeopardy between civil and criminal.

The end result is that drivers who would clearly be found responsible for a traffic infraction frequently end up getting off scot free; when the criminal case falls through for whatever reason. See e.g. Kandas. Or sometimes it is just an oversight on the part of police. It seems clear that the driver responsible for the Eades fatality could have / should have been cited for §28-701 “failure to control”.

Talk about getting away with murder…

Yet police didn’t confiscate her driver’s license. Had this been a DUI case, Sgt. Joel Tranter told me, they would have taken it and notified the state Motor Vehicle Division so it could administratively suspend Gilbert’s license. But police don’t pursue DUI charges in manslaughter cases, for fear of jeopardizing the more serious charges.

“The (administrative suspension) law does not apply to homicide or aggravated assault cases because those are criminal,” Tranter explained. “They aren’t traffic investigations.”

In other words, if you drive drunk, you lose your license. But if you drive drunk and kill someone, you can keep driving.

Hentoff [the victim’s family’s attorney] calls the police department’s interpretation of the law “absolutely flawed logic.”

Driver in DUI-death case still at the wheel, Laurie Roberts, The Arizona Republic. Aug. 25, 2007

We’ve heard this double jeopardy business before from the police department, Continue reading Double Jeopardy and Flawed Logic