Vancouver: Have You Seen This White Toyota Tundra

January 20, 2014

vancouver pedestrian fatal 011914_1390198478183_5309412_ver1.0_640_480Who: The driver of a white older model Toyota Tundra and the driver of a separate black truck that hit three pedestrians.

What: Front end damage caused by hitting three pedestrians.

Where: The corner of NE 72nd Ave. and Vancouver Mall Driver.

When: January 19, 2014, at about 8:00 p.m.

Why: Because, after hitting at least three pedestrians, the drivers of both trucks fled the scene.

Last night the Vancouver Police Department issued the following Press Release:

VANCOUVER POLICE INVESTIGATING FATALITY HIT AND RUN COLLISION

News Release from Vancouver Police Dept.
Posted on FlashAlert: January 19th, 2014 9:41 PM
On January 19, 2014 at approximately 8:00 p.m. Vancouver Police responded to a hit and run collision at NE 72nd Avenue/NE Vancouver Mall Drive. According to witnesses, four pedestrians were walking northbound on NE 72nd in the crosswalk when a pickup heading southbound on NE 72nd Avenue turned eastbound at a high rate of speed onto NE Vancouver Mall Drive and hit three of the pedestrians in the crosswalk. One of the pedestrians is deceased and two others were transported to an area hospital, one with life-threatening injuries and the other with less serious injuries. The fourth pedestrian, a child, was not hit or injured.

The suspect vehicle is a white older Toyota, possibly a Tundra, with front end damage that will have some missing grill features. Police are also actively looking for black pickup that also left the scene and may have struck one or more of the victims as well.

The Vancouver Police Department Traffic Unit is investigating and anyone with information on this collision, or that was a witness to the collision, is asked to call 911 or the Vancouver Police Tip Line at (360) 487-7399.

This literally occurred within miles of my house, within blocks of my children’s school, and within feet of many of my closest friends homes.  As I read the Press Release, it hit me too close to home. This could have happened to my family, or my friends. Thankfully it was not, but it did happen to someone’s family. It did happen to someone’s friends. You probably have not seen either truck, but maybe your friends or family have. Take a moment to share this post. Let’s find this guy (or girl) and see that he (or she) gets the justice deserving of such horrible acts.
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Have You Heard About the New 2014 Child Safety Seat Installation Recommendations?

January 8, 2014

IMG_2137As a father of four children, my wife and I literally use the spectrum of child safety seats in each of our cars. My oldest son, Caden, has been out of a booster for some time. My youngest three children are still in varying levels of child safety seats. Hannah is in a booster, Jaxon is in a front-facing car seat, and Allison is in a rear-facing car seat. Despite our over eight years of experience using/installing child safety seats, new government recommendations made us reconsider our installation habits.

Like many of you, we find the convenience and ease-of-use of the LATCH system to be so much easier than strapping the car seat every time we get in the car. If you’re unfamiliar with the LATCH system, a brief explanation may be necessary so we’re on the same page. On most modern cars, the rear seats are equipped with metal braces that can be found by running your hand between the seat back and the bottom of the seat. Most new child seats are equipped with an attachment that clips to the metal braces making it much quicker and easier to secure your child’s safety seat than using the standard safety belt installed in your car.  Importantly, as your children grow, it may no longer be safe to use the LATCH system in your car.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the government agency that oversees motor vehicle transportation, now recommends that the LATCH system only be used until the combined weight of the child and the car seat exceed 65 pounds.  Once this occurs, the LATCH system may not be strong enough to secure the child seat if you are in a collision. In other words, if the LATCH system fails in a collision, your child, though secured in their child seat, may become a projectile inside your car. Needless to say, that is not a very safe place for your child to be!

Other things to consider are the manufacturer recommendations of the LATCH system in your car and the manufacturer recommendations of your child safety seat.  These devices may only be approved for a combined weight less than 65 pounds. In such cases, you should follow the manufacturer’s recommendations rather than wait until the combined weight reaches 65 pounds.

While it seems government recommendations are always changing relative to the installation of child safety seats, it is important to remember that millions of dollars of research go into these recommendations every year. They change because it is scientifically safer for our children when new recommendations are followed.

Check the combined weight of your child and their child safety seats. A good rule of thumb, would be to check the combined weight regularly as your child approaches 50 pounds. If your children grow anywhere near as fast as mine, it won’t be long before the combined weight exceeds 65 pounds.

When Horrible Events Meet Modern Technology – A Story of Love and Support

December 5, 2013

Fifteen years ago, on the eve of his 21st birthday, my would-be brother-in-law died in a sudden car crash. Both he and the driver of the other vehicle involved were killed in a head-on collision. His mom (my soon-to-be-mother-in-law) had a neighbor who worked as a State Highway Patrol Officer. Within moments of the crash, this neighbor, happened to learn who died in the crash and was able to break the terrifying news to my mother-in-law, personally, compassionately, and in the privacy of her own home. While nothing could prepare my mother-in-law for such tragedy, she has been eternally grateful for her neighbor and the love and concern he showed that day.

Contrast that private experience with the nightmare that became Caran Johnson’s living reality yesterday afternoon. Ms. Johnson is a local celebrity of sorts to those of us in Vancouver who are active on Twitter. Under the Twitter handle @ScanCouver, she often “tweets” the news and other important events around town. I have been one of her “followers” for some time. Yesterday in an ironic and heartbreaking chain of tweets, her Twitter page became a public forum for a painfully private event. Like many car crashes before, Ms. Johnson joined a twitter conversation about a horrendous two-car collision in Vancouver. She realized the collision occurred along the path her husband was taking home, and that he was late, and not answering his phone. She nervously sought information from other social media users until her last tweet confirmed her greatest fears.

caran-johnson

“It’s him. he died.”

I believe KATU news was the first to report on the tragedy. Within hours there was a tremendous outpouring of support on twitter and beyond as the story spread across the internet, and, as of this morning across the world.

I don’t normally choose to write about issues beyond what we can do to “make safe” our community. I don’t know what caused yesterday’s crash, but it seems Ms. Johnson’s husband may have suffered from some sort of sudden medical condition. I don’t want to speak to that. I don’t want to speak of fault or to point fingers.

Today, in the new “future” that is our present, news travels faster than ever before. We learn of events, often, as they’re happening. Today, through the wonders of the internet and social media, we can place ourselves anywhere in the world. We can, electronically speaking, be there for Ms. Johnson, to lend a shoulder for her to cry on and to offer words of encouragement and support.

I don’t pretend to know Ms. Johnson, I follow her on Twitter. I don’t pretend to understand what she went through yesterday, what she is undoubtedly enduring today, and what she will surely experience tomorrow. My heart breaks for her. Maybe, in a very public way, Twitter has offered her the very private support she needs now. Maybe all this “support” is something she’d rather not be dealing with today. What I do know is this:

After my brother-in-law died, my mother-in-law met the widow of the other driver killed in the crash. They offered support to one another and expressed their love and concern for the losses each felt. That happened privately and I know it has been tremendously therapeutic to them over the years. They still meet regularly, on the anniversary of the crash to catch up and offer their love to one another.

Today, Ms. Johnson and Benjamin Shelley (@ben253sounders), the son of the other driver involved in yesterday’s collision have turned to each other for support through the power of Twitter:

Capture

 

Earlier this morning, Ms. Johnson pleaded for “help”, for relief, from the reporters who were “at her place.”  Mr. Shelley, understandingly, offered to relieve her by suggesting she invite the press to the hospital to check on the status of his mother.

In my line of work this kind of love and compassion is a rarity. Understand that my job is to hold people accountable for their carelessness and I work hard for my clients to get them the compensation to which they are entitled. But, I strive to always to do so in a way that is understanding and civil. My best clients are those who can do so as well and who don’t get blindsided by hate and revenge. Occasionally a client will hold bitterness and contempt for those who caused their injury. While I understand this desire, it does little for them by way of healing or moving on with their life.

Today I am grateful for modern technology that allows us to express our thoughts and our prayers in a public way that allows for private comfort. Yesterday’s crash was a tragedy. Today’s support is nothing short of a miracle.

Why I Love My Job

October 18, 2013

I normally don’t pat myself on the back. That is not my intention in writing this post. I hope the following is not perceived that way.

Earlier in my career, when I worked for big insurance companies, my “clients” were people accused of causing damage to another. I worked most closely with insurance representatives. My cases came to me because of relationships with insurance representatives. I authored status reports to insurance representatives. I marketed myself to insurance representatives. And I woke up the next day and did it all over again. My success or failure depended on my ability to improve the bottom line for insurance companies, whether by reducing the amount the insurance company had to pay the injured victim, or by reducing the amount the insurance company had to pay me. I didn’t like it. It wasn’t for me. I’m a people person, and I felt my strengths, especially my legal creativity and entrepreneurial spirit, were being under used, and went unappreciated.

As a personal injury attorney I help real people with their problems. Every day I come to work, I make a real difference in people’s lives.  I was cleaning out my desk this week and came across a letter I received a few months ago from “J”, a client I helped earlier this year.  J’s letter is below, with portions redacted due to a confidential settlement:

Client Letter

While such words are always nice to read, I can honestly say that far more important to me than the compliments J conveyed, was the opportunity to know her and her husband Bob. I came to love them both and attended Bob’s funeral when cancer finally got the most of him. At the service, J introduced me to her family as her “friend”; not her attorney. That meant so much to me. Soon after resolving J’s claim, she sent me three small candy airplanes–gifts for my kids. Wow.

My clients usually are completely involved in resolving their claims. I work with them. One-on-one.  Each day I get to help them with the thing in their life that is the most often one of the most important struggles with which each of them must deal.

That is a reason to wake up every morning.

That is job satisfaction.

Today, October 18, 2013, is my birthday. 33 years ago I came into this world kicking and screaming.  Toady, my wife and I are also wondering if it will be the day our daughter is born–no signs yet, but we’re close.  Next Tuesday at the latest.  This morning, for no other reason, one of my current clients called just to wish me Happy Birthday and to see if my daughter had been born. She wished me well on both accounts.

That is friendship.

That is why I love my job.

P.S. Just so I’m clear, I do not intend to insult my many friends who work at insurance companies or who work for insurance companies. Most of them are good people who love and enjoy their jobs–and for good reasons–it just wasn’t my thing.

Who Knew Grocery Shopping Could Be So Much Fun

October 3, 2013

If you read my blog, you know I focus on making our communities safer. Today, I’m going on a tangent. Today I’m focusing on making our lives happier and on not forgetting the “little things” in our lives that are actually the biggest and by far the most important things we will ever do.

If you know me personally, you know my wife, Melissa, is pregnant with our fourth child; a little girl due in just a couple of weeks.  Superwoman that she is, this pregnancy is sapping the energy from her body, sometimes like Kryptonite. She still manages to keep up the same loving and cheerful personality I fell in love with over fifteen years ago. but just doesn’t have the energy to do the things we’re both used to her doing.

Because I’m such an amazing husband (kidding), I’ve recently taken it upon myself to do more of the household chores–I even cleaned the bathrooms last week for the first time in, geeze, I don’t know 5 years (proof that I’m not as amazing as I think I am). Before she was pregnant, Melissa typically did all the grocery shopping when our older two children were at school and she only had Jaxon, our three-year old, to wrangle. Because of her pregnancy, I have done the grocery shopping for the past several weeks. On these days, my schedule typically looks like this:

6:00 a.m.    Wake up and run or workout

7:00 a.m.    Get ready and eat breakfast

8:00 a.m.    Take Caden and Hannah to school

8:30 a.m.    Go to work

5:00 p.m.    Come home

5:30 p.m.    Cook and/or eat dinner

6:00 p.m.    Do the dishes

6:30 p.m.    Respond to the e-mails I received since leaving work

7:00 p.m.    Get the kids in their PJs and brush their teeth

7:15 p.m.    Read scriptures as a family (we try to every night)

7:30 p.m.    Put the kids to bed

7:30 p.m.    Go to the grocery store

8:30 p.m.    Get home and put groceries away

9:00 p.m.    Drag myself upstairs to go to bed

JaxonYesterday I got home and Jaxon was a new definition of “tired three-year old.” He whined, argued, fought, and was downright intolerable during dinner. He had been this way for much of the day and Melissa’s patience was clearly gone.  I decided to take him to the grocery store with me. A little after 6:00 p.m., I asked him if he wanted to go to the grocery store with me. From that second on, his attitude changed completely. He ran up the stairs as quickly as his little legs would move him and got his socks on. He came back down so fast he almost fell down the last half of the stair case.  We went to get his shoes on and he was disappointed to see that he put his right sock on upside down, luckily we were able to avert disaster and flip it over so the heel was where the heel goes. We put his shoes on and opened the front door.

It was pouring. Not drizzling. Not sprinkling. Not even raining. It was pouring. We went in and got the umbrella. He held it while I tried to get the van doors opened and get him buckled in his car seat. He giggled when I had to close the umbrella and accidentally dumped all the rain water on my head. I laughed at the joy he found in my carelessness.

We talked all the way to the grocery store. We talked about preschool. We talked about the way the rain drops danced on his window as we drove. We talked about his soon-to-be-born baby sister, and what we should name her.  He liked “computer”, I told him that probably wouldn’t work.

At the store it was still raining. We parked in the closest spot to the door, in the back of the parking lot some 500 feet from the door. I knew there were a lot of groceries on my list and didn’t want to carry a wet umbrella in my shopping cart, so we left it in the car and agreed to race to the front door. We got out and ran. He was sidetracked by the puddles and splashed in each one along the way. I kid you not, he didn’t miss a single puddle.

Once inside, we wiped the rain from our brows and got about our work. He rode in the front seat and talked the entire time we were there. He wanted everything we passed, literally everything. Whether it was broccoli or bubble gum, barbecue sauce or honey. He wanted it and was committed to telling me everything we had run out of or needed more of. I relented and told him he could pick out and buy one thing in the whole store. He chose, almost immediately, fruit roll ups. I think he played me because he knew exactly what he wanted and we were nowhere near the fruit roll ups at the time. Regardless, a deal is a deal and he picked “the red ones.” He was great the entire time we were shopping. A couple of times he asked me to “go real fast,”so I did, only for a few short steps, but he laughed and giggled. Even the old woman looking at magazines couldn’t help but smile at him.

When we were checking out, he wanted to help me bag the groceries. He hopped out and ran to push the button that brought the groceries down the conveyor belt so I could put them in plastic bags. He bragged to the little two-year old girl in the cart next to us–“My daddy lets me push the button.” The cart was all filled with groceries, so he held on to the handle and stood on the bottom.  I held his hands, making sure he didn’t fall, and we went outside.

As we went out the door, we went over the small bumps on the edge of the sidewalk and the parking lot. “That’s my favorite part daddy.”  As soon as we were through that, he wanted me to run again. I couldn’t help myself. I ran through the parking lot, pushing him and our groceries through the rain. As we neared the car, he hopped off and started running. I had to stop him to remind him not to run in parking lots.  Clearly confused, he asked, “But Daddy you runned.” He was right, so we had a little lesson on runner height and driver line of sight. I don’t think he understood.

We made another stop at a nearby department store–we needed ink for our printer. By now the rain had stopped, he pulled his jacket down on his arms a bit and started flapping “his wings.” He wanted me to fly with him. We flew the rest of the way into the store.

Knowing this was to be a quick stop, we walked instead of getting a cart. Jaxon reached for my hand, but I still had my car keys in that hand. He held my finger. A few steps later he asked me to put my keys in my pocket so he “could hold [my] whole hand.” I obliged and we walked through the store and got what we needed. When I knelt to figure out which ink cartridge I needed off the bottom shelf, he sat on my knee. After making our purchases, we flew back to the car.

On the way home, we stopped at Wendy’s for a $.99 Frosty. He wanted to get one for Caden and Hannah to take home but I told him they would be okay and reminded him they were probably in bed anyway. He liked knowing he was bigger than they were, even for an evening. He was having a hard time sitting on his chair and reaching his Frosty. He wondered if he could sit on my lap so he could reach better. After the evening we had, how could I say “no?”

We finished and drove home. Just two hours after our journey began, he went up to tell Melissa about our night. He whispered in her ear that we got ice cream and quickly got ready for bed.

It was, hands down, the best night I’ve had in months. I cannot imagine doing something more fun and will forever remember the things we did.

Don’t forget the little things. They’re always the most important.

Please, Please, Please Don’t Drink and Drive

October 1, 2013

Dont-Drink-DriveEach month I author a safety column in the Vancouver Family Magazine. Vancouver Family Magazine is a locally produced publication who’s mission is “to strengthen a sense of community by providing Clark County families with comprehensive and locally based resources and information regarding parenting, education, news, community events and personalities, recreation, and more.” A couple of weeks ago, I submitted my contribution to the October issue, entitled “One Drunk Driver“.

In the column I shared recent statistics about those killed as a result of drunk driving. I won’t reiterate those numbers here, (read the article in Vancouver Family Magazine if you’re interested) but will repeat only that in 2011, drunk drivers killed 1,612 friends and family members–passengers inside the drunk’s own car.

That was two weeks ago. This last weekend, there was a single car crash that seems directly related to drunk driving. Sunday evening, around 8:30 p.m., Kenneth Jones was driving east from Vancouver toward Camas when his “vehicle left the roadway about a mile west of the 164th Avenue exit…went down an embankment, hit several large rocks and overturned, landing on its top.” The passenger in his car, Daniel Alexander of Vancouver, was pronounced dead at the scene.

How tragic.

How unfortunate.

How senseless.

Having lost a loved one in a motor vehicle crash myself, the loss is agonizing and forever. I feel for Mr. Alexander’s family and understand the grief and pain they are surely trying to deal with right now.  Whatever struggles and demons Mr. Jones may have endured before Sunday night, he must now add the guilt associated with choosing to drive while intoxicated and thereby taking the life of his friend or family member. I do not have the imagination necessary to calculate the weight of that burden.

As I stated in an earlier post, these crashes are not accidents. They are the final and permanent result of an irrational choice to break rules designed to keep everybody safe.  Please, please, please don’t drink and drive.

Do Your Kids Know What to Do?

September 10, 2013

house-fire-01

Every Monday night, my wife and I gather our kids together for a night we call “Family Home Evening.”  Essentially, because we know our lives are too chaotic and way too busy we set aside Monday nights as family time. We often have short lessons to help our kids grow into better people, play games, or talk about important issues affecting our family or our community.

One Monday, about a year ago, my wife and I decided to have a fire drill of sorts. In the middle of our Family Home Evening, without any warning to our kids, we turned on the fire alarm. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! It didn’t stop. The piercing noise was loud and frightened our kids more than I had expected. Soon, after we were able to calm them, we helped our kids to know what to do and where to go if there ever was a real fire.  We practiced a few times and eventually they seemed to feel comfortable with the plan. Their initial chaotic and panicked response turned to reasoned and orderly determination.  I was so happy we took just a few moments to plan and prepare them for something I hope never happens.  That was over a year ago.

Yesterday, I was watching the news before dinner and saw this  segment on KGW News Channel 8: Family Escapes Forest Grove Fire. To sum up the story, a refrigerator caught fire in the garage and burned into the attic. The mother and her four children were able to escape the home and met at the mailbox across the street–just like they had practiced several times before. Proper planning may have saved the lives of any of these young children.

Did you know that each year over 4,000 people die in house fires each year.  Over 500,000 residential house fires are reported each year to fire departments across the country. On average, that’s over 10,000 house fires per state!

My kids are young. Caden is 8, Hannah is 5. Jaxon is only 3.  He probably doesn’t even remember the night we practiced the fire escape plan. We’re probably due for a refresher course. It’ll be good for them (a small part of me wants to see the look of terror on their faces again) and good for us as a family. I’d urge you, especially if you have young children, to make a family escape plan, and make sure everybody knows what to do and where to go if there is a fire in your house. It doesn’t take but an hour or so one evening, and its good quality family time–missing Monday Night Football won’t hurt too badly. I promise.

Hopefully you’ll never need it. But if you do, you can thank me later.

Caden Wondered What Labor Day Was “All About”

August 30, 2013

983641_890851624323_920012580_nEarlier this week, my eight year old son, Caden, asked what “Labor Day was all about”. Digging deep, from somewhere, I remembered it had, logically, something to do with workers, and probably had something to do with labor unions. Unsatisfied with my superficial answer, he pressed further. Ultimately, “I don’t know Caden” was my only response to several of his inquisitive questions. I resorted to Wikipedia.com for answers.

I wasn’t as uneducated as I suspected. I was right. Two points for “fake it ’till you make it” fathers everywhere. I learned Labor Day originally was a celebration of the “economic and social contributions of workers.” We as a nation have celebrated Labor Day since the end of the Pullman Strike in 1894 when President Grover Cleveland officially made it a federal law. The celebration was originally marked by a street parade to show “the strength and spirit de corps of the trade and labor organizations.”  After the parade, a festival was thrown for workers and their families. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the civil significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the Selector movement.

Despite it’s historic beginnings, the Labor Day of today is nothing compared to the Labor Day of our grandparents.  To most Americans, the Labor Day of today marks only the end of the summer season, the beginning of the football season, and a darn good day to shop for a good sale.  Like its annual cousin, Memorial Day, the occasion is most often celebrated in campgrounds, beaches, backyards or swimming pools.  With those festivities, many of us choose to consume alcoholic beverages, some of us in excess.  As mentioned in my pre-Memorial Day post, I don’t care if you drink, I don’t care if you drink until you pass out and pee your pants.  That’s your business.  But please, please do so responsibly and safely.  Nominate a designated driver.  Don’t drink and drive.  Don’t risk injury or death to you, or to your friends, or to innocent victims of your stupidity.  If you find yourself in an intoxicated state, with no safe way to get home, know that there are options.  Take a bus, call a friend or family member, or call a professional service.l Pubfly, a local designated driving company offers a safe, convenient, and responsible way to get you and your car home safely.  Check them out.  Call them at 360-313-7645.  Or, if you find yourself in another state (it must have been a good night) check out this national database of designated driving companies.

Be safe. Be responsible. Be alive.

Cell Phone Amber Alerts: “Unintelligent, Histrionic, Intrusive.” Really?

August 12, 2013

ImageFor much of last week the entire nation was captivated by the double homicide and kidnapping that set off a nation-wide manhunt for the monster who could commit such atrocious acts.  We watched. Mesmerized and unable to fathom the horror that surely was Hannah Anderson’s reality.  Brett Anderson, Hannah’s father, lived the worst nightmare any father could imagine.

Like many here in Washington, Oregon, and other surrounding states, I received a text message on my cell phone alerting me to the monster still at large.  Alerting me he still had Hannah.  I, like most, stayed alert for the blue Nissan Versa, a bread crumb of sorts that could lead to Hannah’s safe return.

Three days ago, before horseback riders located the monster and just after the blue Nissan Versa had been found, I read an article, published by MSN.com, entitled “Amber Alerts on Cell Phones: Effective or Annoying.”  Annoying?  Really?  As I read, I was disgusted by the unnamed Sacramento resident who complained the Amber Alert text message was “among the most unintelligent, histrionic, intrusive programs ever. I felt like the San Diego police reached into my pocket.”  I re-read it. “Unintelligent?” “Histrionic?” “Intrusive?” Seriously?

Certainly I must have missed a “not” or a perhaps I misread the sentence entirely.  I re-read it.  Wow.  Each time I did so his message became more and more plain. ” He could not have spoken in clearer terms if he just came out and said, “I don’t care about your daughter. I don’t care about the atrocities the monster committed.  I don’t care about the cruelties the monster may be committing. I don’t care about anybody except for myself. Where’s my coffee?”

For my sanity, I have to believe Selfish Sacramento (what I call him now) is an isolated anomaly. Surely no one else shares his egocentric view of the world.

I wonder what he would think if the monster took his daughter.

Or killed his wife.

Or murdered his son.

Actually, as I think about it, he probably doesn’t have a wife.

Or kids.

Otherwise he would know better.

He would care more.

He would love others.

He would understand.  At least a little.

This is what I tell myself anyway. Maybe he just doesn’t care?

I hope not.

Maybe I’m overly sensitive. Maybe I care too much?

I hope not.

Many of the news articles published “instructions” to turn off the Amber Alerts. This suggested, to me, perhaps others shared Selfish Sacramento’s annoyance.  Please.  For the sake of everything that is good in the world, leave the Amber Alerts on your phone. Do we honestly feel so violated by a single text message? Is our time so much more important than the purpose behind the offending Amber Alert?

I hope and pray that my daughter will never need an Amber Alert.  But if she does, please, please be willing to hear about it.

NOTE: Revised to reflect the changes recommended by my sweet and caring wife.  Thanks for keeping me on the straight and narrow.  I love you.

Drinking and Driv…ahem Walking

August 6, 2013

25873414Two weeks ago I took my wife out on a date.  It was date night for the first time in what seemed like months.  Come to think of it, it was months.  We actually talked about the fact that we hadn’t been on a date, a real date with no kids, since our anniversary in May.  Depressing, I know, but such is life.  After way too much online “research” we decided to try this Thai place in Portland  called Red Onion. It was amazing, you should go there if you’re ever in the area.  After dinner, we went to the riverfront in downtown Portland and saw all that Portland has to offer. It was a great evening. As we walked back to our car, we couldn’t help but notice a small group of pedestrians who were standing, or rather strutting, in the middle of the street.  One guy in particular caught our attention.  He was slurring vulgarities to passing motorists as he played with the construction cones and danced merrily in the roadway.  He was clearly intoxicated and endangering not only himself, but other pedestrians and motorists who swerved  to avoid his totally random shuffle.  After steering clear of him and with his expletive-laden ramblings miles behind us, he became nothing but a somewhat comical ending to an otherwise perfect evening.

I forgot about that man.  I couldn’t tell you what he looked like. I couldn’t tell you what color his hair was. I couldn’t tell you what he was wearing. In fact, if you lined him up with four other people, I couldn’t pick him out. I forgot about him entirely. Until today.  Today I read an article discussing the sheer numbers of pedestrians that are killed each year in America. Did you know that in 2011, 4,432 pedestrians were killed and 69,000 were injured in car crashes. This means that, on average, a pedestrian is killed in a motor vehicle crash every two hours, and one is injured every eight minutes. Staggering, even for me who deals with this stuff every day.

Amazingly, of the 4,432 pedestrians killed in automobile crashes, more than a third (37%) were intoxicated. In real numbers, this means that over 1600 pedestrians had blood alcohol content levels of .08 or higher when they were killed in a car crash.

We as a community are all well aware of the dangers of drinking and driving. We hear about it nearly every day. We know (most of us anyway) not to get behind the wheel of a car after consuming alcoholic beverages.  But with these types of numbers, perhaps we need to talk about the dangers of drinking and walking.

As an attorney, I could not in good conscience argue that just because a pedestrian was intoxicated he or she must have been responsible for their death. That being said, common sense dictates that a good part of those killed would still be alive if they were not intoxicated when they walked into oncoming traffic because they drank too much.

I don’t drink. Never have. Never will. It is easy for me to stand upon a soapbox and proclaim the benefits of not drinking and the risks associated with drinking. I don’t understand the urge to drink until one is impaired and unable to protect oneself from dangerous situations–or even worse, to put oneself into dangerous situations. I don’t understand why such a mental state would be “fun” . I don’t get it. I’m not so naive that I can’t recognize that most of society does not share my view. I understand people will drink and that alcohol is an acceptable part of our society. I’m fine with that. I don’t  take issue with those who consume alcohol in moderation. Drink, Socialize. Have your fun. I don’t have a problem with responsible alcohol drinkers.

My problem is with those who cannot control themselves because of alcohol.

My problem is with those who drink too much they lose all common sense.

My problem is with those who cannot protect themselves from their own stupidity.

My problem is with those who endanger me, and my wife, and my family.

I take issue with that.  You better believe I take issue with that.

I am glad I forgot about the man who was dancing with construction cones.  You see, he was lucky. If he, like the 1600 before him, would have become a statistic, I would remember him.  I would have remembered him forever. I would remember him just like I remember the woman who was killed when talking on her cell phone (see earlier post).  I’d remember his clothes. I’d remember his smell. I’d remember his name.  Just like I remember her name. Just like I remember her smell. Her clothes. One doesn’t just forget something like that.

I shudder to think about the memories of the drivers of the 1600 motor vehicles.  I shudder to think about the memories of the friends and family members of those 1600 pedestrians–especially those friends and family members who saw their loved ones be hit by a car.  I can’t imagine that pain those persons must live with, daily.

Please be safe. Whether you are driving, pedaling, or walking, please be safe. If you’re going to drink to intoxication, do so safely. Ask a trusted friend to watch out for you, not just to drive you home, but to walk with you, to protect you. Be safe, don’t be a statistic.


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