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

Bystanders do nothing after a hit-and-run. 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.

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.

Further, one must wonder what was going through the bystanders’ minds. For example, my sister was driving in Portland, OR last month and while stopped at a red light heard a loud thump behind her. A man had stepped out in front of a car trying to save a dog and was struck. The driver reportedly had no time to react. My sister told me she was terrified and in shock when she saw the man lying on the street. She pulled into a parking lot with numerous other people to call the police. She told me that several people had already called for an ambulance and had seen the accident. She waited around to see if a statement was needed but since she had not seen it, she was able to leave. Several people that witnessed the accident stayed and gave statements; the driver stayed to give his statement. This incident had my sister rattled for days and she hadn’t even seen it happen. Thankfully, she was able to think clearly enough at the time to make sure 911 was being called and she stayed for any statements she may need to give.

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.

Erica Baasten
Summer Intern 2008
JD Candidate 2010
University of Colorado

One Comment

  • I have obtained THOUSANDS of histories from patients in the pre-admission testing area. One of the basic questions in the patient history addresses medications currently taken by the patient. A large portion of the patients I interview are ingesting muscle relaxers, narcotics, and other meds that affect judgement and reflexes. Not only are they taking these Rx’s on a regular basis, but, at times are used in combination with other drugs that can potentially impair one’s faculties. However, they seemed surprised when I asked who drove them to my facility. “Well, I drove myself”.
    These people are actually confused at my reaction of concern, even tho’ I feel reasonably certain their prescription bottle has the “warning” label attached, these patients are going about their daily activites, including driving. I would submit to you that if drug screenings were done at accident scenes, many times both parties would come up “positive” for a drug that has
    untoward effects on judgement and reflexes.