Hit-and-Run Shocks Nation

Bystanders do nothing after a hit-and-run. I’m sure you have all heard this headline as it dominated radio and news stations. A minute and a half clip showing the horrific hit-and-run of Angel Torres that aired on news programs and was attached to online articles has raised a lot of talk of society’s loss of morality. Angel Torres was walking across a two lane road after buying milk when a Toyota and a Honda chasing it crossed the center line and hit him. The clip caught by a surveillance camera also caught bystanders gawking and cars stopping for a second but then driving on. In the clip, no one comes to Torres’ aid or appears to do anything to help.

It is understandable that this clip has caused outrage. Not only were two drivers so unconcerned with the safety of others that they decide to race down a two lane road crossing the center line, but they were callous enough to continue there race around the corner after hitting a 78-year-old man. Further the bystanders appear to do nothing. People walk by, drive by, or stare at this unfortunate man lying in the street severely injured. Discussion on what people should have done has erupted in blogs and comments added to online articles. The question is out there: what should the bystanders have done?

First, the statement that bystanders did nothing is not true. Chief Roberts and other city officials released that there were several phone calls reporting the accident and asking for an ambulance. Some bystanders did do something. What more is required? Well from a legal standpoint, nothing is required at all.

However, it seems that something should compel us to act. Whether you call it morality or humanity or something else, people feel someone should have done something. It is that feeling that has people so upset about the tape. The reality is that many people are afraid of liability if they try to help, especially when not trained in any medical treatment. Further, it was probably for the better that no one tried to move him. Without proper training, moving a person with possible neck injuries can be devastating for the victim. However, this does not mean that there was nothing that bystanders could have done. Calling the police was something that anyone can do, and it appears that some people did this. Beyond that, people could have tried to block traffic or warn oncoming cars of a man lying in the street. Someone could have sat next to Torres or let him know help is on the way. While it is clear no one did this in the clip, it is not clear that no one did this past the minute and a half after the hit and run.

Erica Baasten
Summer Intern
JD Candidate 2010
University of Colorado

Coming Up Next: Hit-and-Run Shocks Nation Part Two: What Would You Do?