Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Strange Irony

Until the car accident caused by a drunk driver, octogenarians Edwin and Ellen Collier led active lives, playing with their grandchildren and regularly bicycling.

That active life changed in a moment because of a drunk driver plowing into the Colliers' vehicle.

Below the fold, read the story of the tragedy of drunk driving with a particular strangeness of coincidence.

From this April 10, 2010 article in the Washington Post:
Md. driver accused of hitting judge who suspended DWI term in 1998

The tragedy of it all was immediately clear: A suspected drunk driver, at 3 in the afternoon, swings his Chevy Tahoe into oncoming traffic.

"He's going to hit us!" Ellen Collier, 81, told her husband, Edwin, 85, who was driving their 2001 Honda Accord.

The strange coincidence took longer to sort out: The Honda's driver, retired Montgomery County District judge Edwin Collier, had presided over thousands of drunken-driving cases, including one in 1998 involving the Tahoe's driver. Collier had spared him jail time, even though the man had been arrested on drinking-and-driving charges twice in three months.


Ellen Collier, who is now 82, suffered a compound leg fracture, fractured ribs, a fractured hip and neck injuries...She has had five operations, including one to fuse vertebrae in her neck, and must use a walker. Edwin Collier, now 86 and who as a retired judge was brought back to hear cases as recently as last year, suffered a broken leg and fractured ribs. He must use a cane.

The diminished mobility forced the couple to move to a retirement community from their home in Bethesda....

Fernandez [the drunk driver] was barely hurt. At the crash scene, he walked about in flip-flops, grinned widely and seemed unconcerned about the Colliers' injuries as other motorists rushed to their aide, according to Montgomery police reports.

Fernandez was tested at more than twice the legal limit for alcohol, the reports say.
The irony of a merciful judge being severely injured by the criminal to whom that judge had shown mercy decades before reminds one of an O. Henry story's final twist, minus any element of a happy ending.

In the case of Judge Collier, some might say, "Justice has been served." I don't feel that way, but, then again, I've never personally known anyone injured by a drunk driver.

I have, however, known several arrested on DUI charges, and nearly each of these individuals received a mere slap on the wrist from the judge when their cases came to court because they hired top-of-the-line attorneys who specialize in resolving DUI's with little or no sentence. And, yes, each of these individuals continue to drink and drive. When arrested again on DUI charges, they hired the same top-of-the-line attorneys and bypassed the legal consequences. A vicious cycle, repeated every day on our highways and byways.

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posted by Always On Watch @ 4/28/2010 04:00:00 AM