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Author Topic: Driver avoids cat, fatally strikes skateboarding teen
snopes
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A driver who swerved to avoid a cat in the road instead struck a skateboarding teenager, killing him.

http://www.azcentral.com/offbeat/articles/1003CatAccident03-ON.html

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Danvers Carew
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This is why I make a point of running over cats.

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aranea russus
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I've been in those flash moments where you either swerve off the road or kill the critter.

I discovered I'm one of those that just grits his teeth and hopes they pass under the car unscathed.

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ThreeQuarks
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quote:
Investigators said the driver would not be charged because Rivers had been standing partially in the road.

This line (from the article) makes no sense to me. The kid was partially in the road (there may not have been a sidewalk - the article doesn't say - and it does specify that he was by the side of the road), and that makes him fair game? Supposing the driver had swerved into oncoming traffic and hit a car; would he have been charged then?

When I drive, I'm always keeping half an eye on folks by the side of the road -- skateboarders who might start rolling, pedestrians who might stroll into traffic to cross the street, drivers in parked cars who might swing out into traffic, or open their door suddenly. When you're controlling a several-thousand-pound hunk of metal, that's part of the job. I don't know whether "partially in the road" means that the kid was in the way of traffic, or that he was on the shoulder, but I do think this driver can be held accountable for either not being aware of him or not caring.

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Oualawouzou
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quote:
Originally posted by ThreeQuarks:
I don't know whether "partially in the road" means that the kid was in the way of traffic, or that he was on the shoulder, but I do think this driver can be held accountable for either not being aware of him or not caring.

Is there no such thing as an accident nowadays? When you have to make a decision in a split-second, being aware of something does not mean you will necessarily have time to process it.

Stupid example: you pick up something very hot with an ustensil. You drop it: most people would have the reflex to catch it with their other hand. They know it's hot: heck, that's why they used an ustensil in the first place! But they had to make a decision extremely quickly, and made a bad one. It's an accident. It happens. Sometimes it's benign, sometimes it's tragic, but at the end of the day, it's still an accident.

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Malruhn
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I've been on Lambing Rd. here in Jax. It is VERY narrow - with no official shoulders - and only one sidewalk on one side of the road. I could very easily see a skateboarder taking a step or two to recover from a near fall, and ending up with a shoe on the road.

Actually, the road is narrow enough, if you drove down the road with your door open, you MAY be able to hit people that are COMPLETELY on the sidewalk!!

The road is also notorious for for speeders, with a 35 mph limit, with most drivers doing at least ten mph higher.

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STF
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quote:
Originally posted by Oualawouzou:
quote:
Originally posted by ThreeQuarks:
I don't know whether "partially in the road" means that the kid was in the way of traffic, or that he was on the shoulder, but I do think this driver can be held accountable for either not being aware of him or not caring.

Is there no such thing as an accident nowadays? When you have to make a decision in a split-second, being aware of something does not mean you will necessarily have time to process it.

Stupid example: you pick up something very hot with an ustensil. You drop it: most people would have the reflex to catch it with their other hand. They know it's hot: heck, that's why they used an ustensil in the first place! But they had to make a decision extremely quickly, and made a bad one. It's an accident. It happens. Sometimes it's benign, sometimes it's tragic, but at the end of the day, it's still an accident.

That about sums it up for me. It was unfortunate, but I don't see where there's any crime here. The whole situation is tragic for the skateboard (obviously), his family and for the driver.

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Griffin at the Maul
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It does not matter whether the kid was standing partially in the road, or completely in the road, he was still run over and killed by the driver of the automobile. I csn understand that it was an accident, but that does not bring the kid back to life.

Doesn't Florida have a manslaughter law?

So, basically, if you are standing in the road, I can run over you, and, because you were in the road, it is not a crime?

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Snow-Dog
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So what you're saying is that one life was accidentaly destroyed, so we better destroy another just to be sure?


It was an accident. Also a tradgedy to be sure, but as far as I could tell from the article it was just blind luck.


Snow-Dog

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Oualawouzou
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quote:
Originally posted by Griffin2020 Hindsight:
So, basically, if you are standing in the road, I can run over you, and, because you were in the road, it is not a crime?

Intentionnally? No.

The way I understood the article (which is, as usual, skim on the legal details) is that standing in the road probably automatically limits the driver's responsibility in case of an accident, provided he isn't driving recklessly.

Not to say he couldn't be found "not guilty" if the kid had been staying on the sidewalk: however, the authorities probably would have had the legal obligations to pursue the matter and let the court decide instead of being able to make the call without going to court.

ETA: My turn to ask a question! So, I jump in front of your car. You are startled and swerve without having even time to think, hitting someone else/another car in the process. Are you guilty? If you say "no, YOU are guilty because you startled me"... then why aren't you blaming the cat?

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Mr. Baggins
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Full headline:

Driver avoids cat, fatally strikes skateboarding teen, PETA rejoices


Sorry... [fish]

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snopes
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quote:
This line (from the article) makes no sense to me. The kid was partially in the road, and that makes him fair game?
A driver should be able to reasonably assume that he can maneuver safely within his side of the road. If he unavoidably hits something that didn't belong in the road in the first place, then it's generally not his fault. (For example, if you garb yourself in dark clothing and stand in an unlighted road at night and get hit by a car, it's probably going to be deemed your fault, not the driver's.)

If a driver trying to avoid a squirrel went off the road and into a sidewalk full of pedestrians, then sure, any injuries would probably be considered his fault, because he can't presume he can safely drive on sidewalks. But if he swerved within his lane and hit something that shouldn't have been in his lane in the first place, then it's generally not his fault.

quote:
Supposing the driver had swerved into oncoming traffic and hit a car; would he have been charged then?
There isn't a presumption that driving into oncoming traffic lanes is safe.

- snopes

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KaiTheInvader
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totally OT but I read the article and recognised the guy's name, and then I realised it had happened in Jacksonville, I realised I did know the guy, he went to my school! creepy.

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rocksong
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It should be automatically deemed dangerous driving because he swerved. Never swerve for animals.

BTW if the teenager was "partly on the road" then the driver should have been aware of him.

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Chimera
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Like someone else said we don't know if the kid was wearing dark clothing. Sometimes you just don't see things until its to late, especially when making split second decisions.

With that said, I say run over the four legged creature. My dad has almost killed my mom twice trying to avoid an animal in the road. The last time it happened my aunt (my dad's sister) even commented on it. She said she always believed that my mum would end up dead someday because her brother wouldn't hit an animal... not something I needed to hear while my mom was still in the hospital.

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SkyeTisTheSeasonWynters
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I think a lot of it is instinct: if something runs into the road, you're going to try to avoid it, just as you would anything obstructing your path. In a split second, the human mind doesn't have the ability to say: "run it over", when the first thought is "avoid obstacles"

SW

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Lainie
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Intellectually, I know that if a deer runs out in front of my car, it's better to hit it than to swerve and risk losing control or hitting something bigger (tree, bridge abutment, culvert). But I've often wondered if that intellectual knowledge would overcome the instinctive reaction that HalloweenWynters described.

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Ouch My Ankle
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quote:
Originally posted by rocksong:
It should be automatically deemed dangerous driving because he swerved. Never swerve for animals. [snip...]

Not even moose?
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rocksong
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quote:
Originally posted by Ouch My Ankle:
quote:
Originally posted by rocksong:
It should be automatically deemed dangerous driving because he swerved. Never swerve for animals. [snip...]

Not even moose?
I googled for 'driver safety swerve moose' (without the quotes). Based on that, there's a pretty strong consensus that you should brake but not swerve, not even for moose.

When you get down to small animals like a cat, it's a no brainer. Brake but don't swerve. Yes I like cats but I like my family more.

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Xia
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Wouldn't your first instinct be to hit the brakes to avoid hitting an animal in the road? It seems like it would to me... I used to have a bumper sticker that said "I brake for animals"...mostly as a warning to anyone who might be following me.

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WildClarySage
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A friend of mine from childhood died this past spring, along with her 2 yr old daughter, when a driver braked and swerved to miss a stray dog and ended up in her lane. Her 6 month old was badly injured. Please don't hesitate to hit an animal in the road. =(
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Lainie
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quote:
Originally posted by WildClarySage:
A friend of mine from childhood died this past spring, along with her 2 yr old daughter, when a driver braked and swerved to miss a stray dog and ended up in her lane. Her 6 month old was badly injured. Please don't hesitate to hit an animal in the road. =(

I'm so sorry.

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firebraun
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I don't swerve for animals too small to damage my car. A deer or moose, you bet, but a cat or squirel get brakes and an "I hope that critter is fast..."

That said, pedestrians shouldn't be in the traffic lane, and they should be walking (not skateboarding) on the side of the road where they are facing oncoming traffic AND they should be watching every car that approaches so they can jump away should a car swerve toward them.

You ever see a "skate-punk" with an attitude on the road or in a parking lot? They practically dare you to hit them. I wouldn't have charged the driver, either...

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Squoval
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I am an animal lover. I, however, will not swerve unless there are no other people around for me to possibly hit. Which means I probably will never swerve if I ever come across an animal.

However, that is what I say. What I would do in such a situation would undoubtedly be decided on the spot.

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smoke
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Having hit a deer I can tell you you're brain doesn't react with "its a deer" It just reacts on instinct to avoid collision. I'm sure the driver in the OP didn't think should I kill the cat or the skateboarder, he reacted to the cat and probbaly saw the skateboarder too late. These things happen so fast you don't really process the details till its over. As someone said it's called an accident.

BTW it was actually three deer that ran out in front of me. I swerved withn my lane to avoid the first two but could not avoid the third.
Damage to my van and the deer had its back legs broken. The hour and a half wait for animal control to put the poor thing out of its misery is another story.

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firebraun
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A bit of a hijack, but I remember hearing a great story from a retired Highway Patrol officer once.

He said that when he was in drivers ed class as a 16 year old, the teacher's "catch phrase" was ""A bouncing ball is always followed by a running child. Always brake for a bouncing ball." He said he must've heard that phrase a hundred times in that 4 months as a young kid learning to drive.

So, he grows up and becomes a trooper. For 15 or so years he writes a lot of tickets and gets into the occasional high speed chase, but never thinks of that phrase again.

Then one day, he's in a "real big" pursuit. One of those ones where the bad guy he's chasing just killed someone or robbed a bank or something like that. There are about 150 yards between his car and the bad guy's car, and they're doing about 80 on a 2-lane-road with the occasional house in amongst the woods that line the road on both sides.

Suddenly, a baseball rolls out onto the road between the bad guy car and his. He said it was like a bolt of lightning. BAM! "A bouncing ball is always..." and he locked them up! When the smoke cleared there was a kid, about 8, standing right in front of his car, looking down the hood at him with eyes about a foot wide!

It's funny what things snap to the front of your brain at high stress moments...

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noftessa
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quote:
Originally posted by Bill D.:
I am an animal lover. I, however, will not swerve unless there are no other people around for me to possibly hit.

Just be careful even when there is no one around. That fence post that makes the fence at the bottom of the embankement to the road's right can puncture your windshield and then your passenger, killing him just like it did my cousin about 14 years ago. All because of one dog (and an immature driver).

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First of Two
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Cat.
Skateboarder.
Cat.
Skateboarder.

I'm supposed to hit the less sentient life form, right?

Tough call.

[fish]

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paisley claus
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I'm in the agreement with the brakers...
I never swerve to avoid, unless it's a car coming at me left of center or something.

Animals? No, I don't want to hit them, but I dont' want to hit anyone or anything else.
So I just stomp on the brakes!

If I see something running across the road or sitting in the center of the lane, my instinct is to brake, not swerve.

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Mickey Blue
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The few close calls I've had with things in the road (usually deer) is to break. I dont' really think, I see it and I break. I have yet to ever actually hit one but thats just my first reaction to any animal.

On a more logical side (ignoring the possibility of people you don't see on the side of the road) as somebody else said if you swerve there is a high chance of losing control potentially sending you off the road into a tree or other more dangrous object.


Still, even givin that, as I said my decision to break is not made by considering all my options, it just happens. Swerving, by instinct is another IMO resonable reaction to something in the road you don't want to hit so I really could not charge this driver since I don't personally think he did anything 'wrong', it was just a terrible accident.

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rocksong
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quote:
Originally posted by Mickey Blue:
Still, even givin that, as I said my decision to break is not made by considering all my options, it just happens. Swerving, by instinct is another IMO resonable reaction to something in the road you don't want to hit so I really could not charge this driver since I don't personally think he did anything 'wrong', it was just a terrible accident.

This is where I disagree. Swerving is more dangerous and is not a "reasonable reaction", and drivers need to be taught this so that their instinct is to brake, not swerve.

I'm not sure how this teaching should be done, but I am of the opinion that it sends entirely the wrong message to allow "I swerved to avoid a cat" to be an acceptable excuse for causing a fatal accident.

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ThespiSis
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I try to brake whenever possible, but there's been a time or two when I swerved a little for a larger animal (while slowing). Those times were only when some fool was following two closely behind me, and it was swerve or be rear-ended. Sure, I could just hit them, but I have a fear of a larger animal being thrown into my windshield by the impact (not unheard of).

By the way, I wouldn't do this for a small animal. Cat or possum? Much as I love cats, I'll slow down or stop if possible, but they'll just have to run fast if I'm not able to do either.

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abigsmurf
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quote:
Originally posted by Lainie:
Intellectually, I know that if a deer runs out in front of my car, it's better to hit it than to swerve and risk losing control or hitting something bigger (tree, bridge abutment, culvert). But I've often wondered if that intellectual knowledge would overcome the instinctive reaction that HalloweenWynters described.

However hitting a deer at any sort of speed would do pretty large amounts of damage to the front end of the car, possibly setting off the airbag meaning you could easy veer in front of oncoming traffic while your vision is impared.

Most people would chance the hard breaking + swerve. With ABS in pretty much all cars now you'd stand a good chance of keeping control of the car

*addition*

about a month back my dad hit a bird that flew out in front of it (for some reason birds here seem very suicidal in the morning... Must be that monday feeling). Didn't think anything of it save for a little "oh dear...". Went to get some petrol a bit later on and we spotted that the body of the bird had got jammed in the radiator. Getting that out was fun [Frown]

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rocksong
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quote:
Originally posted by abigsmurf:
However hitting a deer at any sort of speed would do pretty large amounts of damage to the front end of the car, possibly setting off the airbag meaning you could easy veer in front of oncoming traffic while your vision is impared.

Airbags deflate pretty quickly. I don't think that's an issue.

Besides, if there is oncoming traffic, you definitely shouldn't swerve.

quote:
Most people would chance the hard breaking + swerve. With ABS in pretty much all cars now you'd stand a good chance of keeping control of the car

Like I said above, a google search suggests that the experts disagree.
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Hans Off
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I would be more worried about the deer coming through my windscreen than the airbag going off.

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"British English speakers point to Americans adding more syllables so that they can make even more noise without actually saying anything." Llewtrah


Posts: 2235 | From: Sussex , UK | Registered: May 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
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