Now that’s some cold-ass sh*t!!

The former longtime secretary of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, Charles Atherton, 73, was hit Thursday night while crossing rain-slicked Connecticut Avenue NW. He was hit so hard that Atherton flew out of his shoes and was left crumpled on the road, bleeding from his head and nose after his head smashed into the windshield.

To quote the WashPost article:

Michael Baker, a communications consultant who was a few yards away when the accident occurred, was among the first to reach Atherton. “At one point, we were trying to get him to respond, and it was unclear if he was trying to respond or maybe drowning in blood,” he said. “I think he was having a difficult time breathing. He never said anything. He couldn’t speak, and he wouldn’t respond when we pinched his hand.”

So this elderly statesman of DC is lying in the road, slowly bleeding, maybe to death, and what does the driver think about, what is she concerned with? His health, his survival, his life? Ha! No, she’s worried about liability. She cares more if he will sue her than if he lives. To quote the WashPost again:

Baker said he overheard a police officer “reassuring” the driver involved in the accident that she was not at fault. She had been headed south on Connecticut. On the face of it, Baker said, it may seem “offensive” that Atherton was ticketed, but he believed that the officers were seeking to establish liability. “It seemed primarily to assuage her,” he said of the driver. “She was just distraught. She was wailing for 45 minutes.”


14 Comments so far

  1. Migual Skinster (unregistered) on December 4th, 2005 @ 6:42 am

    He broke the law…JAY WALKING… If he wasn’t walking there, he would not get smacked by a car.

    Besides, (being who he is) he will not have to pay that ticket.

  2. Tiff (unregistered) on December 4th, 2005 @ 11:16 am

    No matter how you want to stereotype the driver in this situation, the fact is, there’s a REASON pedestrians are supposed to cross in crosswalks. Crossing in the middle of the street, after dark (let me guess? Wearing a dark overcoat?) is a damn good way to get yourself killed. I don’t care who he is or what department he was head of- I respect crosswalks with near-religious fervor, so nothing pisses me off more than when some idiot strolls out in front of my car. I follow the rules and I expect pedestrians to do the same. The rules keep them from getting hit and keep me from having to replace my brakes every other month from slamming them on every time some idiot decides he’s going to cross wherever he pleases.

  3. wayan (unregistered) on December 4th, 2005 @ 11:25 am

    The point here is not if he was jaywalking or not (his kids don’t believe he was), or who he is specifically, its that he’s laying there, bleeding from head, face, and body, unresponsive and maybe dying/dead, and the police are more concerned about assuaging the driver’s liability fears than getting him help.

    That to me says that, as a society, we’re way too focused on a) getting sued, and b) driving cars, than a life itself. That’s the cold-ass sh*t

  4. Yorkville (unregistered) on December 4th, 2005 @ 12:37 pm

    I would think medical help was already on the scene when the police went about discussing liabilities and issuing tickets. This does not mean we are focused on getting sued or driving cars. A civil society cares about human lives. It also cares about rules, rights and liabilities. The police did everything in the right order. I think you showed your own bias in the comment about “SUV”. What is the relevance? A hybrid would have done the same damage. Or are you advocating banning cars?

  5. wayan (unregistered) on December 4th, 2005 @ 1:11 pm

    I’m advocating compassion and common sense. A guy in lying in the street, half dead, and the cops do what – issue him a ticket. Did they get his side of the story, did they interview him, did they do anything but pin the ticket on his blood-soaked shirt?

    If he deserved a ticket, and mind you we weren’t there, so the best we have is third-hand info to make that judgement, it should be investigated and delivered with at least one ounce of tact.

    Now on to the driver – was the driver speeding? Was she fully aware and alert? No cell phone yapping or radio fiddling? If they give a ticket to a guy while he’s “maybe drowning in blood” they better check to make sure the driver is squeaky clean, and what driver is?

    I say tickets for everyone involved.

  6. Don (unregistered) on December 5th, 2005 @ 2:57 pm

    I think your bias is showing. It’s just as possible this driver was totally within the law and someone stepped out in front of her, leaving her no chance to do anything but hit him. You can sneer at concerns about litigation and liability all you like but the cops probably DID exercise common sense. They documented the situation as it appeared to them while everyone will still fresh on the details.

    Maybe you’ve never been face to face with the possibility of life-changing legal liability, Wayan, but let me tell you it’s absolutely terrifying. Once everything that can be done for the victim’s safety is taken care of it’s not at all unreasonable to protect the innocent’s life and yeah, even automobile drivers are capable of being innocent.

  7. K (unregistered) on December 5th, 2005 @ 3:33 pm

    just an FYI….while you’re arguing about whether he should have gotten a ticket or not….THE MAN DIED on Saturday night….just thought you all might want to know

  8. Tiff (unregistered) on December 5th, 2005 @ 4:02 pm

    Then it’s a good thing they did issue that citation, otherwise an innocent person could have been taken for everything she had in a wrongful death suit.

  9. k (unregistered) on December 6th, 2005 @ 9:26 am

    An INNOCENT person?….even if he was jaywalking (which is something still unknown) she HIT HIM WITH HER CAR, going so fast that it knocked him out of his shoes!!!! I don’t think that sounds so INNOCENT….

    So she was upset…she should be…and he’s DEAD!
    Who got the better part of that deal???

  10. Tiff (unregistered) on December 6th, 2005 @ 3:18 pm

    She hit him because he WALKED OUT IN FRONT OF HER CAR. In the MIDDLE OF THE CONNECTICUT AVE, for heaven’s sake. There was no crosswalk, there was no intersection, there was no indication that a pedestrian ought to be there in the dark. Jaywalking is illegal because it’s dangerous. He did a dangerous and illegal thing, and got himself killed. It’s sad when someone dies, but the driver isn’t the one who did something wrong. If he had run a red light in his car and she had hit him in that situation instead, it would still be just as much his fault.

  11. wayan (unregistered) on December 6th, 2005 @ 3:27 pm

    Seems my original rant – that they were pinning tickets on crumpled and bleeding bodies – is resolved. The DC cops are not that cold & heartless. On the other hand, its seems some Metblog readers would ticket while the blood was still flowing.

    From today’s WashPost article:

    After an officer finished investigating the accident, he went to the hospital to check on Atherton, Smith said. At the hospital, the officer was told that Atherton was in surgery but was expected to live, Smith said. “We knew it was a serious injury, but we didn’t know it was life-threatening,” Smith said. The officer issued Atherton a ticket for “walking as to create a hazard” and left it among his belongings, Smith said, adding that police often leave tickets in such instances because there are deadlines to pay fines. However, Smith said, officers would not have issued a ticket “if we knew he was going to die.”

  12. Dave (unregistered) on January 2nd, 2006 @ 3:34 pm

    I hope more jaywalkers get hit by cars, maybe they’ll stop wandering into the middle of the fucking street!

  13. Charles (unregistered) on January 16th, 2006 @ 10:21 pm

    I was personally involved in an accident like this once. I was the driver and someone came from out of nowhere and got hit, and died. Obviously it was a bad day for all involved, and the police (not the MPD, btw) decided against giving tickets. If there were to be a lawsuit, a proper investigation should happen to figure out what transpired from the people involved and from witnesses.

    A ticket for jaywalking in this case adds up to the police acting as judge and jury, assessing the situation and legally resolving it in favor of the driver. Let’s be honest – that’s not what police are there to do. The responding officer, unless part of an investigative team, should not be meddling in the legalities; they’re enforcers and clean-up personnel, not prosecutors, judges or juries.

    And by the way, the ticketing officer stated he issued the ticket because there were deadlines to pay fines. He was more concerned that the district make five bucks than the fact that the guy had been hit so hard he was knocked out of his shoes. Five bucks?

    Oh, and the knocked out of his shoes thing is of concern. How fast do you have to be driving on rain slicked streets at night past the Uptown Theater at 7:30pm to do that? Isn’t the speed limit there 25 miles per hour? And isn’t that for when it’s totally safe, as in daytime under a clear blue sky? I’m not saying the driver was speeding or driving recklessly, but don’t tell me the ticketing officer had time to assess that before obviously siding with the driver.

    Also, did anyone get the fact that the guy was 73? Not that there aren’t a bunch of springy 73 year olds out there, but seriously, did he sprint out from between some cars? Again, I’m not placing blame on the driver, but rather I’m bringing up questions that cause me to seriously question the decision to ticket Mr. Atherton, at least in the timeframe of a couple hours.

    All in all, it looks like yet another problem with the policies and procedures of the Metropolitan Police Department. Who are they protecting? Who are they serving? Certainly not Mr. Atherton.

    And for those of you who have said “He broke the law”, have a heart. Sure, folks who jaywalk are putting their life at risk, but to have no concern for the fact that the guy was in the hospital – or that he died later – is simply heartless. It’s obvious that this guy wasn’t an idiot, and calling him one is lumping him in with the people out there who have zero respect for the law and for other people, who look you in the eye when they walk out in front of your car – at an intersection or otherwise. This man was not one of those people. You should be ashamed for having posted that.

  14. Be_stress-free (unregistered) on January 17th, 2006 @ 1:00 pm

    People are missing the point here. Regardless of the fact that jaywalking is illegal, it is also illegal to commit murder. Unfortunately, there is no cop with his radar clocking how fast that driver was going when she hit Mr. Atherton but she must have been going pretty fast for him to be thrown out of his shoes.

    I have driven that stretch of road many times and yes, people do fly through at 40 mph vs. the 25 mph posted speed limit. The bigger picture here is that this is a very popular section of Connecticut with establishments on both sides of the street and people find it convenient to cross the street in the middle instead of walking down the block.

    For that driver, she should be learning this lesson that when going through an area that is prevalent of pedestrians, SLOW YO ASS DOWN! The few seconds it cost you to slow down would have saved a life – studies have shown that there is no guarantee that you would arrive at your destination faster by driving faster than if you drove at the posted speed limit.

    Drivers have to realize that pedestrians, whether they are jaywalking or not, have the right of way. These are people, smart or dumb, and human bodies have no chance against your 2-ton metal/rubber vehicle. So please, let’s put it into perspective.

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