Friday, June 06, 2008

Video released of hit-and-run of elderly pedestrian. It is interesting to watch and see in action the bystander effect we learned about in my psych class this quarter, but I think the inaction of the witnesses, as discussed in the extensive media coverage, is being exaggerated. The cars that witnessed the accident and drove away deserve scorn, of course (and I wish nothing but suffering on the two cars that caused the accident, passing on a city street, and whose failure to stop may well bring them a murder rap, should the victim die). But it appears to me that the pedestrians did what they could. They reacted in horror, some apparently called the police, as police arrived in approximately 60 seconds. Sure, they probably should have directed traffic around her, but they saw how effectively traffic circumvented the victim; I can understand their hesitancy to leave the curb. It's not like there's any first aid to administer, as the fact that you shouldn't move a victim of this sort of trauma is well-known to just about anybody. Besides, the video itself is difficult to watch; no doubt witnessing the accident in person was quite traumatic. Under difficult circumstances, people did the best they could, as imperfect creatures. And given that, as I said, help arrived in about one minute, it's hard to see how any different actions could have made a difference in Angel Torres' prognosis.

I witnessed a rather gnarly bicycle accident a few years ago, and I did stop. But had I not personally witnessed the accident, had I passed by after the fact, and had I seen people on the scene, I certainly would not have stopped. And had I been on the sidewalk in Hartford last week and witnessed this accident, I like to think I would have had some more composure, and gone out in the street to direct traffic, but I probably wouldn't have. And I probably would have felt ashamed afterwards, and lost some sleep over it. But it needn't be so, as I don't think the pedestrians did anything wrong here.

Oh, and I watched this tape about a dozen times, and waved my co-workers over to watch it with me. What does that say about me? It's probably more damning than the behavior of the pedestrians in the video.

UPDATE: On subsequent viewing, I realized that the car immediately behind the hit-and-run vehicle, who appears to drive away, actually stops at the intersection where the assailant turned, and is presumably trying to get a license number or description. So that's one more person off the shit-list. I'd say people's ill will would be put to much better use directed at the driver who actually crossed the center divide, ran over a 78-year-old man, and drove away.

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