“I think if [accused hit-and-run driver Robert Park]’s guilty he should go to prison, but I don’t think he should be put to death,” said Zach Pokorny, one of Waye’s friends who was heading toward his house. “He was drunk, so it’s not completely his fault.”
I can't let that one pass.
The standard that Pokomy mentioned in today's Bristol Press story about the arrest of the man accused of the deadly March 5 hit-and-run that left 14-year-old Henry Waye, Jr dead is a common one.
"He was drunk so it's not completely his fault."
Think about that.
Assuming that the police are correct about Park, this man got smashed, then climbed behind the wheel of his big white pickup truck and drove it into a kid, leaving him to die as he weaved on up George Street to his home.
Whose fault could that possibly be other than his?
It's not like somebody tied Park down and poured cheap vodka down this throat. He apparently did that all by himself, for years, if the people the Press spoke with in March were right about him.
Perhaps alcoholism is a disease. I'll grant that it can take control of people in ugly, awful ways.
But so what?
If Robert Park had been driving home from Aetna that night, tired from a long day of eyeballing actuarial tables and accidentally struck a kid walking in the street, does anyone think that would be worse? After all, in that case it would be completely his fault, if you buy the argument that begin drunk lessens the guilt.
We all recognize that accidents happen, even deadly ones that leave children dead or crippled. Sometimes, it's just bad luck, one of those terrible confluences of events that everyone wishes they could go back and undo.
But it's not an accident, really, when someone drags himself behind the wheel while sloshed out of his gourd and then hits someone. While not deliberate -- and, really, what kind of animal would deliberately run down a kid? -- it's entirely predictable.
Park's guilt isn't lessened because he was drunk, assuming the police have it right. His guilt is actually made all the greater.
Frankly, I get tired of people making excuses for the crazy, stupid, evil things that some people do behind the wheel.
When they drive drunk or race along at 100 miles an hour or more or weave like a maniac through traffic, they're setting up a tragedy. They may not mean to cause a death, but they make it possible, perhaps even likely, that someone will wind up a corpse.
When it happens, it's completely the fault of the drunk or maniac who caused it.
Let's not make excuses for Park or anyone else who should have known better. They don't deserve a break.
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Contact Steve Collins at email@example.com