Responder charged with vehicular Homicide
While looking for additional info about todays FDNY ladder 123 crash I came across this:
State Trooper Is Charged With Vehicular Homicide
By KAREEM FAHIM
Published: February 28, 2007
A state trooper whose patrol car slammed into a minivan last September in southern New Jersey, killing two teenage sisters on their way home from buying milk, was charged yesterday with two counts of vehicular homicide, the authorities said.
The trooper, Robert D. Higbee, 34, faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. A spokesman for the state attorney general said that Trooper Higbee, who has been on administrative duties since the crash, would be suspended without pay pending the outcome of his trial.
“I think it’s what’s fair,” said Maria Caiafa, the mother of the two girls, 17 and 19. “I was very frustrated, and that frustration is not going away.”
Ms. Caiafa and several witnesses to the crash had been critical of the pace of the investigation.
In a statement, a spokesman for the state police, Capt. Al Della Fave, said: “The investigation into the fatal accident involving Trooper Higbee has been thorough, meticulous and professionally performed. The Cape May prosecutor’s office was given full access to every detail of the case to ensure an objective investigation.”
The charges against Trooper Higbee grew in large part from evidence investigators recovered from his patrol vehicle’s onboard computer, known as a black box, which captured the car’s speed and the rate of acceleration before the collision as well as other data, the authorities said.
Several witnesses to the crash, which occurred about 10 p.m. on Sept. 27 at the intersection of Stagecoach Road and Old Tuckahoe Road in the Marmora section of Upper Township, said they saw Trooper Higbee’s patrol car run a stop sign at a high rate of speed — like a “white streak,” one person said — before it slammed into the Dodge minivan carrying Ms. Caiafa’s daughters, Christina Becker-Caiafa, 19, and Jacqueline Becker-Caiafa, 17. The Dodge then struck another minivan, whose occupants, along with Trooper Higbee, were slightly injured.
Trooper Higbee, who had worked for the state police for six years, received a summons in October for careless driving and failure to stop.
About 25 seconds of data on the black box were retrieved by employees of the Ford Motor Company and turned over to investigators. Prosecutors declined to discuss the data in detail, but J. David Meyer, an assistant prosecutor, said that the rate of speed at which Trooper Higbee was traveling represented a “reckless disregard for the safety of others.” Mr. Meyer also said that grand jurors heard evidence that Trooper Higbee had been trying to pursue a speeding car.
The trooper’s lawyer, D. William Subin, released a statement that said: “There was never any intention nor any conscious, deliberate act on the part of Trooper Higbee. He never deliberately disregarded or endangered a human life. He was doing his sworn duty, attempting to close the distance between his troop car and a violator of the law. Simply stated, this case belongs in an administrative and-or civil court.”
David Jones, the president of the New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association, said that Trooper Higbee had an unblemished service record, and, in a statement, criticized the decision.
“It sends a message to everyone in law enforcement that despite the rules that are in place, if you make an honest but tragic mistake, you will be fighting for your freedom just for trying to do your job,” he said.
In a telephone interview from her lawyer’s office, Ms. Caiafa said she had finally returned full time to her job as a middle school principal this month.
She said she moved in with her parents after the deaths of her only two children.
“My kids were my life,” Ms. Caiafa said, “and I don’t have a life.”
The mindset has to change, this article could have been about the brothers from Brooklyn and their crash today. In both cases drivers going to fast to avoid an accident ran stop signs / lights.
Driving the rig is the single most important duty we have. It does no one any good if we are involved in an accident on the way to the call. If you can't slow down and drive with due reguard for others safety don't drive at all.
Justice like fluid runs downhill
I guess that's the problem,training and skill and superb reactions count for nothing when you're up in the court.
All the police I know [and have known] are usually responsible and damned good drivers. But like a lot of people they believe that the red and blue lights render them invulnerable.
It's too easy too believe this when traffic is melting out of your way when you're responding.
We have all had runs in our larger trucks that seem too damned easy,everything goes our way and we slide through like grease through a well fed goose.
But these days with loud stereos and cell phones and better insulated cars etc. the average driver is constantly exposed to extraneous distractions [not to mention drugs and alcohol] which render them blind deaf and stupid.
Then the onus is on the responder to ease back and attempt to do the driving for everybody else as well.
The problem with justice is that it looks at the results,not the causes. The case of the stupid Police driver is relatively clear cut. The fact is he shouldn't be doing what he was. The result is god knows how many lives ruined, not only the dead but the injured and their families in addtion the wife and family of the trooper must live with his decisions and their terrible results.
Elsewhere when a case gets to court the results stand and the penalties are paid on the results.
The causes are less clear cut and many times the workmates,the Officers and all are left thinking that maybe if they said something simple,something as easy as "hey slow down" then the whole dirty mess wouldn't have happened.
Having sat on review panels and looked at Departmental Accidents it is never easy to second guess a driver. SOPs are great for guidance but unless you're
actually seeing what the driver sees and having the emotional feedback he is at the time of the accident you're working from secondhand evidence.
So justice is fluid, just make sure you don't get caught in the flood as it flows downhill faster than up!