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View Full Version : Probation for Elderly Driver Who Plowed into Crowd



AnneMarble
11-21-2006, 01:28 AM
Do you remember the case (ay back from 2003) where a man in his 80s plowed into a crowd at a farmers market, killing 10 people and injuring more than 70? (They think he panicked and stepped on the gas instead of the break.) Today, he was convicted (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2006/11/20/state/n111001S33.DTL) -- but sentenced to probation. On the other hand, he is nearly 90, and he was in sickbed and unable to attend the trial, so they probably didn't think it was worthwhile sending him to prison.

So what do you think? Some of the people affected by the case think he should have gone to prison. Sure, he was old, but he should have known better than to keep driving when he knew he was having problems with his reactions. Even the judged called his apologies "hollow" and thinks the driver should have been able to avoid plowing into the people. (After all, he avoid hitting cars and trucks!) Others seem to think that while he deserved to be punished, it just wasn't worth it. (For one thing, he has heart disease, so treatment while he was in prison would become a burdern to taxpayers.)

FWIW he is being ordered to pay restitution, although not all the details have been worked out.

English Dave
11-21-2006, 02:04 AM
Do you remember the case (ay back from 2003) where a man in his 80s plowed into a crowd at a farmers market, killing 10 people and injuring more than 70? (They think he panicked and stepped on the gas instead of the break.) Today, he was convicted (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/2006/11/20/state/n111001S33.DTL) -- but sentenced to probation. On the other hand, he is nearly 90, and he was in sickbed and unable to attend the trial, so they probably didn't think it was worthwhile sending him to prison.

So what do you think? Some of the people affected by the case think he should have gone to prison. Sure, he was old, but he should have known better than to keep driving when he knew he was having problems with his reactions.

I didn't see anything in the link to say he knew he had problems with his reactions?

billythrilly7th
11-21-2006, 02:09 AM
Judge had a tough decision to make.

Tragic across the board.

AnneMarble
11-21-2006, 02:21 AM
I didn't see anything in the link to say he knew he had problems with his reactions?
Whoops, my bad. I might have remembered hearing something about the case when it was first in the news. Or maybe I as just @ss/u/ming.

MattW
11-21-2006, 02:29 AM
It's a shame that mental acuity is not tested for drivers, young or old.

Same for voting and procreating.

The least I'd support is mandatory eye testing every 5 years after 40 or with every renewal, with reflex tests and discretion to revoke.

Normally, we could count on individual repsonsibility or families to pull the plug (!) on grannies driving, but we needs our nanny to protect us.

SC Harrison
11-21-2006, 02:43 AM
I didn't see anything in the link to say he knew he had problems with his reactions?

We had a previous thread on this story, and I believe the guy admitted that he sometimes got confused between the brake and gas pedals.

I can't remember if the guy had a valid driver's license or not. If he did, and his last renewal didn't include an actual driving test, DMV should be held accountable also (imo).

If he did not have a valid driver's license, and he knew he was breaking the law just by driving, I'm not sure if he shouldn't have to spend his last few years behind bars, expensive treatment or not.

blacbird
11-21-2006, 02:47 AM
It's a shame that mental acuity is not tested for drivers, young or old.

Same for voting and procreating.

I think the Nazis tried this on the procreation front; it was generally regarded as a bad idea.

caw

English Dave
11-21-2006, 02:50 AM
My father-in law developed dementia. The doctor 'advised' us to take his car keys away. I did. It wasn't pleasant. He had been driving for 50 years. And Dementia being what it is he couldn't see what the fuss was about.

Sometimes you have to make the tough call. Sometimes nobody is there to make it.

I feel sorry for doctors, but who better to be given legal powers to rescind a driving licence?

billythrilly7th
11-21-2006, 02:52 AM
My father-in law developed dementia. The doctor 'advised' us to take his car keys away. I did. It wasn't pleasant. He had been driving for 50 years.

And the fact that you guys drive on the wrong side of the road didn't help the situation.

English Dave
11-21-2006, 02:54 AM
And the fact that you guys drive on the wrong side of the road didn't help the situation.

He was driving on the right side of the road.

It was ugly.

SpookyWriter
11-21-2006, 03:07 AM
He was driving on the right side of the road.

It was ugly.But in which direction? :Shrug:

billythrilly7th
11-21-2006, 03:15 AM
He was driving on the right side of the road.

It was ugly.

Please tell me he didn't plow into Eric Idle.

billythrilly7th
11-21-2006, 03:25 AM
Sheesh. What a bunch a hard-@sses. An ancient old guy should go to jail? Like he meant to hurt those people? What are we coming to? How 'bout sentencing a four year old to twenty for knocking over a lamp and starting a fire that killed a bunch of people. Did the four year old actually know that he had done something wrong?


I actually agree with you.

I think the judge made the right call.

Sending some 90 year old, barely alive as it is, dude off to the slammer does nothing.

Obviously, a family member of mine was not a victim, so I can't put myself in their position entirely, but generally speaking, after hearing he wasn't going to prison I'd probably just do a Thrilly eye roll of annoyed understanding, a wave of the hand, say "whatever!" and be done with it.

Thank you.

SpookyWriter
11-21-2006, 03:32 AM
Sheesh. What a bunch a hard-@sses. An ancient old guy should go to jail? Like he meant to hurt those people? What are we coming to? How 'bout sentencing a four year old to twenty for knocking over a lamp and starting a fire that killed a bunch of people. Did the four year old actually know that he had done something wrong?

America the vengeful.Intent. Ah, so just what were his intentions for driving at his age and clearly a menace to society? Maybe he's too old now, but it's only because of the system that allows ten years to pass before a conviction. That's another reason we have sixty and seventy year old inmates on death row. Should we spare them because the system allowed for so much time to pass while these folks could still understand and appreciate the nature of their crimes?

billythrilly7th
11-21-2006, 03:39 AM
You might not even do an eye roll when you see them wheeling him out. . . .some shriveled up hunched over old hump muttering the boy scout pledge, over and over again.

True.

TheGaffer
11-21-2006, 03:50 AM
Sorry. I don't see the need to send a 90-year-old man to jail, either. Plus, it's not 10 years. It's 3 years in this case, so when it happened, he was very old, and now he's very very old.

English Dave
11-21-2006, 03:53 AM
I don't subscribe to capitol punishment, so as far as I'm concerned: spare 'em.

But take away his bus pass. Ha! That'll teach him.

Scribhneoir
11-21-2006, 03:56 AM
Intent. Ah, so just what were his intentions for driving at his age and clearly a menace to society?

Intent. Ah yes. I remember when this happened. His intent was to flee from the car he'd just hit. He drove around the concrete barricades that closed off the street for the market, then drove at high speed for three blocks, hitting people all along the way. Because he kept this up for three whole city blocks, I never bought his claim that he confused the brake and the accelerator.


Maybe he's too old now, but it's only because of the system that allows ten years to pass before a conviction.

I don't think he's too old to pay the consequences for his actions. I think he should do jail time, especially given that his lawyers have been harassing jurors for convicting him. It's too bad the judge didn't send him to jail, even for a short time, instead of handing out an essentially meaningless probation and a $90,000 fine. Not much for the lives of 10 people.

English Dave
11-21-2006, 04:03 AM
Intent. Ah yes. I remember when this happened. His intent was to flee from the car he'd just hit. He drove around the concrete barricades that closed off the street for the market, then drove at high speed for three blocks, hitting people all along the way. Because he kept this up for three whole city blocks, I never bought his claim that he confused the brake and the accelerator.



.

yeah that sounds like the actions of a sane person with no criminal record.

SpookyWriter
11-21-2006, 04:27 AM
I don't subscribe to capitol punishment, so as far as I'm concerned: spare 'em.What should have happened is that the judge sentences him to the maximum number of years in prison for manslaughter and then suspended the sentence because of his age.

I think probation sends the wrong message to the elderly community. We don't need eighty year old drivers on the road unless they pass the driver test annually.

I think capital punishment is what it is...

English Dave
11-21-2006, 04:55 AM
What should have happened is that the judge sentences him to the maximum number of years in prison for manslaughter and then suspended the sentence because of his age.

I think probation sends the wrong message to the elderly community. We don't need eighty year old drivers on the road unless they pass the driver test annually.

I think capital punishment is what it is...

Sometimes sh1t happens.

AnneMarble
11-21-2006, 07:37 AM
Sheesh. What a bunch a hard-@sses. An ancient old guy should go to jail? Like he meant to hurt those people? What are we coming to? How 'bout sentencing a four year old to twenty for knocking over a lamp and starting a fire that killed a bunch of people. Did the four year old actually know that he had done something wrong?

America the vengeful.
I really don't think sending him to prison would be a good idea. But you can kill people without meaning to and yet still be liable. Something can be an accident and yet caused by negligence. (Which isn't always enough to get someone in prison, but it can be.)

Besides, the details of the case posted below made it sound as if he, uhm, less than concerned about the people around him. I see it as closer to a drunk driver than a four year old who accidentally starts a fatal fire. Drunk drivers never "mean" to kill people, but they can still end up in prison for doing so.

William Haskins
11-21-2006, 07:45 AM
he should go to jail for the rest of his life. hard labor.

he should have to break rocks for 18 hours a day and then make license plates and do laundry in his spare time. he should be traded from cellblock to cellblock for cigarettes. when he gets uppity, he should be thrown in the hole with his dinner fed in through a slot in the door and expelled through a slot in the floor.

it's time stop coddling these geriatric delinquents and teach em some goddamn respect.

before it's too late.

BottomlessCup
11-21-2006, 07:53 AM
If he were a 25 years old, people would be calling for his head.

Age shouldn't get you a free pass from prison.

Drunk drivers don't mean to hurt anybody. Distacted teenagers don't mean to hurt anybody. People driving aggresively because they're late for work don't mean to hurt anybody.

Being careless with a deadly object is and should be a crime. Operating a deadly device without the ability to do so safely is and should be a crime.

He shouldn't have been driving anymore and he knew it. But he did and he killed and injured people.

Lock 'em up.

Inkdaub
11-21-2006, 03:43 PM
Intent. Ah yes. I remember when this happened. His intent was to flee from the car he'd just hit. He drove around the concrete barricades that closed off the street for the market, then drove at high speed for three blocks, hitting people all along the way. Because he kept this up for three whole city blocks, I never bought his claim that he confused the brake and the accelerator.



I don't think he's too old to pay the consequences for his actions. I think he should do jail time, especially given that his lawyers have been harassing jurors for convicting him. It's too bad the judge didn't send him to jail, even for a short time, instead of handing out an essentially meaningless probation and a $90,000 fine. Not much for the lives of 10 people.

I agree one hundred percent. He was fleeing the scene of an accident and drove the length of the Santa Monica Farmers Market bouncing people off his hood. Try as I might I just can't summon any 'poor old fellow' sentiment toward this guy.

Some one posted a comparison between this story and punnishing a four year old for knocking over a lamp that starts a fire that kills a bunch of people. Well, while this old man is NOT as innocent as a the four year old in question, of course you don't send the four year old to jail. What you do is your best to keep the four year old away from things that may start fires. So maybe we should do our best to keep drivers like this old man out from behind the wheel.

J. Weiland
11-21-2006, 03:45 PM
Did he at least lose his driver's license?

aadams73
11-21-2006, 04:58 PM
Why should our elderly be humiliated with annual driver's tests or vision tests or anything else, when the majority of accidents are cause by younger people?

I think everyone should have to be tested regularly. My vision started going south when I was 18. We should all have to prove we can drive safely every few years, regardless of age.

C.bronco
11-21-2006, 05:26 PM
It's a shame that mental acuity is not tested for drivers, young or old.

Same for voting and procreating.

The least I'd support is mandatory eye testing every 5 years after 40 or with every renewal, with reflex tests and discretion to revoke.

Normally, we could count on individual repsonsibility or families to pull the plug (!) on grannies driving, but we needs our nanny to protect us.
How very Brave New World
or Hand Maiden's Tale
I think I just caught a chill

SC Harrison
11-21-2006, 07:12 PM
According to the ruthless logic here, we should hold some guy who has a heart attack behind the wheel liable if he hits somebody because he knew he had high blood pressure, thus, he knew he could have a heart attack at any moment and pass out at the wheel.

BTW, I know plenty of elderly people - yes, over eighty - that drive without a problem. This is one guy in a country of 300 million. Perspective is important here. Why should our elderly be humiliated with annual driver's tests or vision tests or anything else, when the majority of accidents are cause by younger people?

Come on, Bird. It's not about humiliation, it's about keeping the roads safe. You know what triggered the first realization that my dad had Alzheimer's? The light turned green, and he promptly collided with the car in front of him.

Operating an automobile in today's traffic is a challenge, even if you have all your faculties (whatever that means). Just as teenagers are more likely to drive recklessly, the elderly are more likely to react poorly when faced with split-second decisions.

SC Harrison
11-21-2006, 10:49 PM
Then who gets to drive, SC?



Whoever is of legal age and can pass the written and driving tests. If a person (regardless of their age) exhibits potentially dangerous behavior/reactions, they should have to undergo an evaluation before applying again. If it was merely nerves from being tested, this should be revealed under further observation. If there are other issues that would/could make them a hazard to other drivers, they don't get to drive. It's not a right, it's a privelege. And a dangerous one at that.

blacbird
11-21-2006, 11:38 PM
I think everyone should have to be tested regularly. My vision started going south when I was 18. We should all have to prove we can drive safely every few years, regardless of age.

And all this testing and certifying is going to be paid for by . . . whom? The American taxpayer? In your dreams.

caw

Scarlett_156
11-21-2006, 11:51 PM
Driving in any society is a privilege, not a right. In the U.S. our drivers' bureaus are set up to process large numbers of people in a relatively speedy fashion, not to look for potential problem drivers. The people have spoken, right?

You only have to take a driving test here every few years. Obviously there are going to be people slipping through the cracks, just as the above-noted homicidal geeze did. I for one would be in favor of a U.S. driver's licence being a LOT harder to get, but nobody's gonna listen to me and not exactly in a prime position to run for public office any time soon. If I did, all I would have to say is, "I will introduce and attempt to have passed laws that will make every-six-month testing for a driver's licence over age 60 mandatory," to retire from the field with an embarrassing 2% of the vote, or something like that.

greglondon
11-21-2006, 11:51 PM
And all this testing and certifying is going to be paid for by . . . whom? The American taxpayer? In your dreams.

I swear I saw some DOT statistics that showed all the car fatalities and accidents for a year, including graphs by age. There was a big ramp on the young end and another smaller ramp on the old-person end.

Thing is, kids don't crash because of bad vision, senility, or lousy reflexes. So testing kids for that won't solve their cause for crashes. But statistically, there may be some support for having a test for people over 65 or wherever the ramp started.

And I think the idea would be to have people taking the test to pay something to cover the cost of equipment. A computer that tests vision by displaying something and requiring the applicant to push a button indicating what they see wouldn't be too expensive, could also test for extremely slow reflexes, and should weed out the senile. And if this same equipment was built into standard equipment, it might not be too much extra.

The DMV nearby has a bunch of employees, and most of this could be automated, so would just cost the price of equipment. And they already have vision testing equipment that they use on all applicants, so just build this into it.

I don't know if overall it would work or make economic sense, but it doesn't seem to be completely outrageous.

greglondon
11-21-2006, 11:52 PM
the political power of AARP would crush the idea like a bug, I'm sure.

SpookyWriter
11-22-2006, 12:13 AM
he should go to jail for the rest of his life. hard labor.

he should have to break rocks for 18 hours a day and then make license plates and do laundry in his spare time. he should be traded from cellblock to cellblock for cigarettes. when he gets uppity, he should be thrown in the hole with his dinner fed in through a slot in the door and expelled through a slot in the floor.

it's time stop coddling these geriatric delinquents and teach em some goddamn respect.

before it's too late.Talk about a condesending retort...

greglondon
11-22-2006, 12:28 AM
Well, if wikipedia is anywhere near accurate on this...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Russell_Weller

Weller
(1) struck a car from behind,
(2) then accelerated around a road closure sign,
(3) crashed through wooden sawhorses,
(4) and plowed into the busy crowd,
(5) driving nearly 1,000 feet at speeds between 40 and 60 miles per hour.
(5a)The entire sequence of collisions took at least 10 seconds.
(6) The car was eventually brought to a halt
by the body of a victim trapped underneath.
(7) Ten people were killed, and
(8) 63 were injured.


Weller received probation on all counts after a judge
determined that Weller was too ill to go to prison,
where he would likely be a burden on prison authorities and taxpayers.
Weller was a month short of his 90th birthday.
He was also ordered to pay more than $100,000 in
fines and restitution to the victims' families.

SpookyWriter
11-22-2006, 12:34 AM
Nice old man on a Sunday drive...my arse...errr..

greglondon
11-22-2006, 12:40 AM
I can understand not sending him to prison if it would
end up costing a lot of taxpayer money taking care of his medical problems.

But $100,000 in fines and restitution for killing 10 people and injuring 63?

Don't understand that piece.

Scribhneoir
11-22-2006, 01:37 AM
You only have to take a driving test here every few years.

Here in California you don't. The only time I've taken a driver's test -- written or physical -- was when I turned 16 and went for my first license. Since then I've gotten automatic renewals from the DMV, with the only requirement being that I get a new photo taken every 12 years. Now, I have a clean driving record, so that may have something to do with it, but I wouldn't have a problem with being required to take another test every so often.

SC Harrison
11-22-2006, 03:01 AM
Here in California you don't. The only time I've taken a driver's test -- written or physical -- was when I turned 16 and went for my first license. Since then I've gotten automatic renewals from the DMV, with the only requirement being that I get a new photo taken every 12 years. Now, I have a clean driving record, so that may have something to do with it, but I wouldn't have a problem with being required to take another test every so often.

I see drivers every day that have no business behind the wheel, but a lot of them would (probably) pass a driving test with flying colors, which means they choose to drive irresponsibly. But some would (should) not pass, simply because they've lost the ability to perform the functions necessary for minimal safe driving.

But...in an acknowledgement of some earlier posts about young drivers, I passed three fender-benders on the way home today, and all three were late teens/early twenties drivers, who were probably in the midst of composing a witty text message on their cell phones when *whump*.

I'm sure they'll be riding around in a rent-a-car for the next few days while their car's being fixed, typing out the message, "This Impala's sweet. I might get one of these next."

SpookyWriter
11-22-2006, 03:14 AM
I see drivers every day that have no business behind the wheel,But it's the ones you don't see who blindside you at night when they should be retired to bed or watching television while their teeth are soaking that makes elderly drivers so scary.

Jean Marie
11-22-2006, 03:35 AM
The old guy should have gone to jail. Period. What he did is commonly known as leaving the scene of an accident. Only he took it a few steps further by intentionally running people over when he was trying to get away. He was afraid of losing his license over having just hit a car. Poor him. No, I don't have any sympathy for him. I do have an awful lot for the families of the victims, though. Good thing a body stopped his vehicle, otherwise who knows how many more he may have killed?

Yup, it's sad when an elderly person can no longer drive. And I'm sure all of us will hate that day, when it arrives. It will be sooner for Haskins, thank god.

The driver should bear a portion of the cost for yearly testing once you've reached 70. That way, the taxpayers don't bear the entire burden. Night vision goes and so do your reflexes.

As an emt, I've been to plenty of accidents w/ the elderly who barely realize what they've caused. Yes, caused. And their first concern is losing their license, not whether they've hurt anyone. Very sad. And very selfish.

The judge was too easy on the old fart. Sorry.

Sean D. Schaffer
11-22-2006, 03:41 AM
I don't subscribe to capitol punishment, so as far as I'm concerned: spare 'em.


Yes, but this man wasn't given a capital punishment. He was sentenced to a probation.

Personally, I'm glad the judge made the decision he did. I think the prison term would have been cruel and unusual punishment for a man in his physical condition. Making sure that the judgment was just and at the same time not cruel to the perpetrator, must have been a very difficult call for the judge to make.

robeiae
11-22-2006, 03:49 AM
Why not put him on house arrest for the remainder of his life?

billythrilly7th
11-22-2006, 03:58 AM
Why not put him on house arrest for the remainder of his life?

I dream of being sentenced to house arrest.

As long as I have cable and internet.

If a judge wanted to punish me, he have to say "Billy, I sentence you to leave your house everyday. Go to the park. Movies. Whatever. But you must leave your house everyday."

NO!!!!!!!

SpookyWriter
11-22-2006, 04:00 AM
The judge was too easy on the old fart. Sorry.The Big Picture here is what's wrong with our transportation system. This man should have been able to commute anywhere by train, bus, or cab without endangering other people.

We lack a viable rail system or inner-city bus service that would reduce our dependence on automobiles, which would reduce our dependence on foreign oil, etc.

Wake up Amerika! When will we stop spending billions to prop up middle-east oil concerns and spend the money on our own domestic interests.

This old man is a symptom of what really ails America.

SpookyWriter
11-22-2006, 04:08 AM
I dream of being sentenced to house arrest.

As long as I have cable and internet.

If a judge wanted to punish me, he have to say "Billy, I sentence you to leave your house everyday. Go to the park. Movies. Whatever. But you must leave your house everyday."

NO!!!!!!!
Don't go outside, Billy. Real people are scary and they talk...

SC Harrison
11-22-2006, 05:59 AM
Why not put him on house arrest for the remainder of his life?

Only if his cable is programmed to block Matlock.

Actually, making him watch 24hrs a day of Matlock might be better punishment.

greglondon
11-22-2006, 06:30 AM
The old guy should have gone to jail. The judge was too easy on the old fart.


I don't know how the rules work out, but the Judge says he didn't put him in jail because it would cost the taxpayers too much money. I assume that means that the prison system would have to pay for any and all health care stuff while he was in prison, and at his age, that could rack up fast. If so, I would rather have seen at least house arrest, or something, but maybe medical care is still covered then. Don't know who pays the bills in those situations.

SpookyWriter
11-22-2006, 07:00 AM
Youth is wasted on the young.

But they're so tasty.

Hannible Lecter

Inkdaub
11-22-2006, 04:10 PM
Cuz i can tell you this much, it wasn't some senior citizen that slammed the trunk into the back seat of my car.



Was it someone fleeing the scene of an accident? Did they kill ten pedestrians when they slammed your trunk into your backseat? If so, then they should go to jail too.

SC Harrison
11-22-2006, 07:07 PM
I seriously doubt the old man in question had enough of his faculties to be "fleeing the scene" as opposed to just being panic-stricken.

Either that or he believes in the old adage, "Leave no witnesses."

What a horrible thing to say. This is what you get before the second cup (pot?) of coffee.

Jean Marie
11-22-2006, 10:11 PM
I don't know how the rules work out, but the Judge says he didn't put him in jail because it would cost the taxpayers too much money. I assume that means that the prison system would have to pay for any and all health care stuff while he was in prison, and at his age, that could rack up fast. If so, I would rather have seen at least house arrest, or something, but maybe medical care is still covered then. Don't know who pays the bills in those situations.
he could have gone to prison and had medicare continue coverage of his medical care.