Sunday, July 31, 2005

Tragedy in the Catskills

Irina Mironova had had her license revoked in May for speeding at 107 mph in a 70-mph zone in Florida. This past Wednesday, entrusted with driving five young people to camp, she killed all her passengers and herself with her reckless driving. She was passing cars at extremely rates of speed, even using the shoulder, which frightened other motorists into calling 911 to report her. Ultimately she crossed over into oncoming traffic and collided with a dump truck.

The New York Post story told of one attendee who told her mother about Mironova's dangerous driving; refusing to get in Mironova's car saved her life. The night before the crash, her mother called the camp owner "five or six times," leaving messages, to warn about Mironova. The owner called the unidentified parent later, trying to assuage her fears and reported insisting, "The children are safe."

Other parents were not so lucky to know about Mironova's reputation; the dead children ranged from 12 to 16 years old. Investigators are still determining if the camp can be charged with criminal negligence. (That link has a video clip showing how Mironova's Corolla was thoroughly destroyed, and that she did seem to cross into oncoming traffic.) There's some merit to that, since the camp owner must exercise at least "reasonable care," perhaps even "great care," in transporting the children.

The parents' grief is more than understandable, and that they wonder why professional drivers weren't used. Some legislator in Albany might propose a new law, intending to prevent future tragedies like this. It can be named after one of the victims, requiring that only professional drivers can transport children to a certain business. An exception can be made for parents who drive their children, and only their children. But while such regulations initially appear "in the best interest," even "essential," in reality they are superfluous. Regardless of New York state laws, the owner already bore great responsibility in transporting the children. The investigation will reveal how many times she was warned, and how much she knew of Mironova's reputation. If she did know, that's culpable negligence.

Moreover, just like housing permits never stopped contractors from incompetently bulldozing the wrong house, and criminals have never obeyed gun control laws, why should we think a new regulation will always prevent tragedies like this? The owner could easily ignore it, and the parents would never know -- until too late. As I wrote before, law cannot truly prevent crime; it can only punish.

4 Comments:

Blogger TKC said...

If they were smart then they would take a page from the gun control crowd and sue Toyota. Obviously the car was dangerous.

Then again, SB397 got through the Senate without any killer admendments so maybe this sort of action is headed for oblivion.

Sunday, July 31, 2005 4:54:00 PM  
Blogger TKC said...

Oh, one more thing, I think the camp owners are wide open for a lawsuit. Letting an unlicensed driver transport the kids has to be a huge no-no.

Sunday, July 31, 2005 4:56:00 PM  
Blogger Perry Eidelbus said...

No doubt the victims' families have already contacted a lawyer for a civil suit. The camp owner may not have known about Mironova's license suspension, but if she had heard from different people that Mironova drove dangerously, that could be sufficient.

Ha, while I hope it hasn't crossed their minds, sadly, I wouldn't be surprised if the families are thinking of suing Toyota for not making the car sturdier, or the state of New York for not making it a divided highway. I reminded us here about the unrestrained child who flew out the back window, after his family's minivan got hit. I didn't mention that the jury wasn't allowed to hear testimony about the accident, or that the victim's family may have been running a red light.

I can just imagine how the families' attorney, in a civil suit against Toyota, would get the driver's bad driving record thrown out, maybe even that she veered over into oncoming traffic. What would be left for the jury to base a decision on?

Sunday, July 31, 2005 8:01:00 PM  
Blogger TKC said...

It works like this. What is the maximum speed limit in NY State? I'll guess it is 65mph. How fast can a Toyota Corolla go? How fast was it going at the time of the accident? If the answer to either one of these is more than 65mph then you sue Toyota for producing a product clearly designed to break the law. Therefore, Toyota is a fault for negligently producing an unsafe vehicle, specifically, one that can do more than 65mph. Not to mention most car advertisements show their cars being handled in a reckless fashion. Sure, they put a disclaimer in tiny print at the bottom but one could argue that the reckless behavior is being encouraged by Toyota. So sue them. Chances are they'll pay you just to go away.

I should have a been an ambulance chasing lawyer.

Monday, August 01, 2005 4:52:00 PM  

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