Left to die in the middle of the road

A 78-year-old man, struck down by a hit-and-run driver, was left lying in the middle of the road for over a minute as pedestrians walked by and cars veered round him.


A 78-year-old man, struck down by a hit-and-run driver, was left lying in the middle of the road for over a minute as pedestrians walked by and cars veered round him.

Angel Torres was hit by a vehicle in a car chase in Hartford, Connecticut, on 30 May. He has been paralysed from the neck down and remains in a critical condition in hospital. Last week, the City of Hartford Police released a video of the incident in hope of finding the offenders. The surveillance footage has astounded the blogosphere. Not because of the crime itself, but of the reaction - or lack of - from pedestrians and passing cars. Although the police logged four 911 calls in the first minute, it takes over a minute before anybody comes over to help him.


Released by the City of Hartford Police, 4 June 08.

"Is it because you risk getting people juice on you?"

Linda Sharp is a writer and blogger from Austin, Texas.

We no longer have a moral compass," said Police Chief Daryl Roberts. Viewing the video, I could not agree more, and I could not be less happy with my fellow man and woman.

Yes, four 911 calls were received. But no one ran out to help him. No one came to comfort him. No one gave a rat's ass that another human being was critically injured in the street. (...) This shows a complete lack of an emotional map. Souls with no topography. I cannot begin to fathom seeing someone in distress and simply staring. How can a person not immediately empathize and run to their side? (...)

Is it because you risk getting people juice on you? Would taking a pulse make you late for a big meeting? Would holding a stranger's frightened hand mean you miss the big shoe sale at Payless? What is so repulsive about getting involved? Personally, my legs would not be able to move fast enough. And to hell with worrying about getting bloody, I'd risk it - and as for stains? That's what Oxy Clean is for. (...) I certainly would hope that if my body gets tossed into the air like a Raggedy Linda doll, someone would step off the curb and not allow a hit and run to turn into a hit and shun."

"How do you know how you would react?"

Erica Baasten is a law student at the University of Colorado.

There are elements that are not known about the aftermath of the hit and run. Did someone try to identify the cars that fled after hitting Torres? Did someone try to go for help? Did people wait around to give statements to the police that might help find the driver that hit Torres? These are things that a short clip cannot show.

So now I would ask: imagine you are just standing on the sidewalk and someone veers across a center lane and hits someone right in front of you. It is easy to say that you would know what to do and would do it without any hesitation. However, the bystanders were probably in shock, not knowing what to even do. We can all hope that if we were there, we would be able to automatically think what needs to be done. But how do you know how you would react unless you have been in a situation like that before. This is not to excuse the people doing nothing, but just to give a little context. It may not have been complete disregard for others, as some would think, that caused the bystanders to not come forward to help; it may have been shock or disbelief of what just happened. I just hope that this unfortunate and shocking event will stick in people's minds, and if anything like this happens again (though I greatly hope it does not), then people will remember this and be able to react, offering aid - even if it is only blocking traffic, calling for help, or letting the victim know that help is on the way."

Originally posted here.