Hit-and-run drivers need to own up to their actions

I think Coolio today would rap about having a place where his kids could play outside, period. Never mind drive-by shootings. Automobiles have become dangerous weapons in the hands of careless and/or intoxicated motorists.

Hit-and-run drivers killed two kids Wednesday night as they walked home from a basketball game at the University Area Community Center on 22nd street and Bearss Ave. A Ford Econoline van and a tinted Honda traveling in opposite directions ripped apart the bodies of a 14-year-old and 3-year-old and never looked back.

I wish I could say this incident is unique, but my memory won’t allow it. I can still remember the day I woke up to a newscast telling me about a mother pushing a stroller across Fowler Avenue; Lynda Cenatus was killed, hit by a careless driver.

Or the day I woke up to a report of Melissa McKenzie, a woman jogging on Bayshore Boulevard who was killed by a motorcyclist driving 80 miles an hour in the morning fog. At least in these instances, the motorists would not, could not walk away unscathed.

A few months ago, we heard the sad tale of Bishop Thomas O’Brien, a 68-year-old priest who hit and killed a man, but instead thought he had just hit a dog in the road and kept driving.

If a bishop cannot appreciate the sanctity of life, who on Earth does? If your actions lead to the death of another, you should own up to those acts, not run away like a coward.

Two years ago I was the victim of a hit-and-run driver.

On a Thursday night, as half-drunken college students hurried home beside me on construction-laden I-275, the traffic in front of me stopped. Then I stopped. But the person behind me kept going, ramming into the back of my car at 40 miles per hour and then escaping around me in the left lane, which pulled the front of my car into a concrete barrier and the bumper of the car in front of me.

The moment seemed so surreal to me, and to this day I can still remember the almost inhuman cry escaping my lips that night, as my life flashed in front of me.

Later that night, as the shock and sadness melted into anger, I wondered if the person who hit me couldn’t sleep either. I hoped the shrill scream I let out on impact haunted the other driver and made him or her wonder if the driver had taken someone else’s life. The driver must have worried about it, because they hired a lawyer right away to call the sheriff in the morning.

The driver was never charged with hit-and-run because witnesses must identify the driver, not just the vehicle, in order to charge them of a crime, and the guy who hit me just disappeared.

I hope this time the screams of the children killed Wednesday will force the perpetrators of this heinous offense to come clean, and the drivers of this community to be more cautious around pedestrians. A few minutes of carelessness at the wheel can turn anyone into a killer.

Michelle Crawford is a senior majoring in mass communications and an Oracle Features editor.