Tonight, while on
Twitter, I came across an article that made me want to get my kids to bed ever
faster then normal. It's a story you have heard many times, in one form or
another: speeding driver dead, kills bicyclist as well. What makes this story
different is that someone was brave enough to speak out and say this was not an
On April 26, in Hinnesburg, Vt., 17 year-old Joseph Marshall was speeding. According
to investigators, he was going more then twice the speed limit when he struck a man
named Richard Tom, 47, a man who loved bicycling. Both men were killed. The
police initially said that excessive speed on the driver's part was the cause
of the crash.
Police Chief Frank Koss told reporters that the Vermont State Police officially estimated the boy
was going about 83 mph in a zone where the speed limit was increasing from 30
to 40 mph. The boy's car hit the bicyclist and, as the vehicle came around the
curve and left the roadway, the car came to rest after hitting a tree.
a noted politically correct man, put pen to paper and published his thoughts in
the town paper.
"I have been investigating accidents since Aug. 5, 1982. My first fatal crash came two months later when a father driving a Porsche killed himself, his son and two of the son's friends driving at a high rate of speed, most likely showing off. I have always been politically correct and sensitive, just presenting the facts without any editorial thoughts. If the horrific event that happened on Sunday has any meaning other than some candles and flowers by the side of the road, that attitude has to stop now. If you think that the chief of police should always be limited to political correctness and sensitivity, you should stop reading now."
Driving distracted is malicious. It kills. That's why this story is so important.
Marshall had not lost his life, he would have been charged with second degree
murder," Koss wrote in a letter published Thursday in The Hinesburg
Record. "This was not going a little fast or even distracted driving, it
was gross careless and negligent driving. ... Although bicyclists are always
aware of the inherent danger from speeding or distracted drivers, this event
crossed an unimaginable line, " Koss wrote in an editorial for the Burlington Free Press.
wasn't an accident at all," he wrote. "I've
had 35 years of not being candid. As a police chief, you're supposed to be
sensitive and be careful of what you say, and I felt it was time to, as far as
I'm concerned, tell the truth on what happened," the chief said. "I'm
very sorry for Joseph's death, but the reality of the situation is had he not
died, he would have literally been arrested for second-degree murder."
"If you drive in Hinesburg with no
regard to others on the road, we will make sure that you are targeted until
driving habits are either changed or you are taking a bus," Koss wrote.
"Bicyclists and pedestrians are seriously vulnerable to mistakes by
motorists and we will have zero tolerance to unsafe driving that puts lives at
The young man, Marshall, had actually
been warned by Koss multiple times to slow down.
The family is angry with Koss. They
have been interviewed and here is what they have to say.
"My son was not
the type of person to go out and try to murder somebody," Alicia Marshall
said through tears. "He did not go out
that day to intentionally kill himself or anybody else. If anybody ever thinks
back to when they were 16 or 17 years old, what did they do? They drove fast.
They felt free."
Marshall and her mother,
Kathleen Wood, say the teenager's need for speed was anything but malicious. This is a major change that needs take
place in our society.
Driving distracted is malicious. It
kills. That's why this story is so important.
I ask you to ask yourself what side do
you relate with? Do you find driving recklessly a part of youth or our culture?
What are you doing to make our roads safer.
Tonight as I read my 5- and 3-year-olds
books, we played a game where they bring me an object and I make up a story for
My kids know about road safety. I talk to them about it weekly.
My 5-year-old brought me a tiny plastic
figurine of a football player.
"This is the story of a young man who
was once an incredible football player. But one day he made the choice to text
while driving and he crashed and broke his legs," I said. You might be thinking I'm a
freaky mom, but consider: do you talk to your kids about water safety? With water safety
there is no second chance. If you get a child who cannot swim, and they fall in
while not being watched, they will drown. I see road safety the same way.
My 5-year-old asked, "Did he die?"
I answered, "Yes, he did, he made a
We then read some Dr. Seuss, I swear, but
you get my point. My kids know about road safety. I talk to them about it
weekly. Do you talk to your kids about road
safety? Better yet, do you model good behavior?
I am a mother to three. It goes without saying my heart goes out to the driver and his family. My heart also goes out to the bicyclist—my husband is the same age as he was.
"For those young people that want
to honor Joseph, do more than stand at a tree for a few minutes," Koss
wrote, alluding to a candle-light vigil at the scene that took place the night
of the crash. "Realize that your actions can have devastating consequences, and drive like you care and respect others just like others should be toward