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Thread: Justice Served?

  1. #1

    Justice Served?

    This has been pretty big news on the snowmobile chat room I belong to, and it presents some legal issues that I thought you might be interested in.

    Last year a snowmobiler and her boyfriend were crossing a road at a legal and marked snowmobile/ road crossing. The sled got fetched up on the curb and as they tried to free it, a woman came along in a car and hit the snowmobile killing the passenger on the sled. The problem was the woman was drunk.

    Now the investigation said that the woman being drunk had little to do with the crash. It was at night. The snowmobile's headlight was obscured by the snowbank and the sled was around a curve. Other driver's might have hit the snowmobile as well.

    In the end it was decided that she would get one year in jail for aggravated drunk driving, NOT manslaughter. Myself I don't think justice was served here.

    Before I tell you my opinion, I'll ask for yours. What is your guys take on this?
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  2. #2
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    I have no compassion for anyone who drives drunk. She should be tried for Manslaughter.

    My best friends daughter & 4 friends wanted to see the sun rise on her 18th
    B Day & they were hit by a Ford 150 doing 100 mph & she died. SO I say throw her in jail for as long as possible if she wants to drink STAY HOME!!!

    Sorry about the rant but drunk driving is a very personal subject to me. Christal
    (the one who died) had the personality that when you met her you fell in love with her when she smiled you thought the sun came up. She was also the flower girl at my wedding.

    Chuck

  3. #3
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    First, I trust anyone who wants to discuss this will stay on track, and act with the civility, so common here

    I'm reminded of a quote........

    This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
    So if the passenger of the snowmobile was walking down the road, say 50' from the snowmobile and the drunk cage driver hit them and killed them, what would the law say?

    I do not know all of the details, so it is hard to get into it, but, I'm not surprised that the minority (snowmobile riders) got the short end of the stick.

    When I was a kid, a young guy got run over at an intersection by a drunk driver, and killed. The kid on the motorcycle was legal age to drive, but the dirt bike he was riding was not licensed for the road. They ruled that because the kid should not have been there, because the bike was NOT an on-road bike, it was his fault that the drunk hit him.

    The Drunk had been convicted of drunk driving several times (this was way back in th e70's before the laws got much stricter) and was only charged with leaving the scene of the accident, as he drove away. The caught him the next day, and while his blood alcohol levels were still high, he was not "Legally Drunk" so he only got hit for leaving the scene. The kid on the motorcycle was stopped waiting for the traffic light to change, and the drunk ran him over from behind, did not even hit the brakes

    Thus, I wonder if this is a similar thing>

    Tragic to be sure.
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  4. #4
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    I can see where you're coming from, but I think Stu's quote or something similar is how most legal professionals would answer your question.

    One has to wonder why the prosecutor didn't argue that a sober person might NOT have hit the snowmobile. I guess thats the reason I tend to agree with you rather than the court - I've had a lot of near misses in years of driving, had I been drunk for any of them, I have to think it would have resulted in an accident that otherwise would not have happened.

  5. #5

    Newspaper Article:

    Here is a news paper article describing the incident better:


    Woman accepts plea deal; manslaughter charge dismissed
    By Donna M. Perry
    Staff Writer
    FARMINGTON — A Farmington woman whose SUV struck a snowmobiler last winter pleaded guilty Monday to drunken driving, while her manslaughter charge was dropped because it's not clear she was solely at fault for the death.

    Sarah Forbes, 44, faces up to 10 years in prison when she is sentenced Wednesday, for aggravated operating under the influence.

    On the evening of Feb. 23, she was driving on Routes 2 and 4 in Farmington when her vehicle struck a snowmobile partly in the travel lane. Off-duty Farmington police officer Rick Billian of Strong had gotten off the machine to straighten the snowmobile skis that had gotten stuck on a curb after it crossed the road to a snowmobile trail across from the parking lot of Boivins Harvest House. His fiancee, Lisa Cequeira, 20, of Wilton, was on the machine when it was struck and died of multiple injuries several days later.

    The victims' families will have a chance to testify at the sentencing. They declined comment until after the proceeding.

    Forbes was scheduled to go to trial before Justice Joseph Jabar in Franklin County Superior Court on Monday.

    Family members and friends of Cequeira, Billian and Forbes waited as state prosecutors and Forbes' attorney, John Alsop, held meetings and conferred with the judge.

    When Forbes and Alsop eventually took seats at the defense table, Billian stared at her for several minutes, leaned his head on his hand, shut his eyes and wiped away tears.

    Franklin County Assistant District Attorney James Andrews announced the state would have had problems proving manslaughter beyond a reasonable doubt, and that Forbes' intoxication level was the significant cause of the accident.

    If the case had gone to trial, a state Department of Health and Human Services’ chemist would have testified that Forbes’ alcohol blood content was .23 percent when a sample was taken at a hospital, Andrews said. And a Maine State Police accident reconstructionist would have testified that Forbes' SUV was traveling between 41 and 47 miles per hour in a 40-mph zone, that the snowmobile was not visible from a distance, and that the grade of the road, a snowbank, the black color of the machine and it being 8 feet into the 12˝-foot travel lane in the four-lane highway, also were factors in the accident.

    The reconstructionist would have testified that that the report concluded it is unclear if alcohol were a factor in the crash, and that even one second of distraction while within 300 feet of the snowmobile would have made an accident inevitable, Andrews said.

    Alsop said Forbes never denied being under the influence and takes sufficient responsibility for what happened.

    Jabar accepted the plea agreement and said he understood the victims' concerns, adding these are the most difficult cases with which to deal.

    However, evidence related to the cause of the deadly crash could lead to a not-guilty ruling, he said, and Forbes’ plea to a felony charge is not a slap on the wrist.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  6. #6
    Well here is my reply to that, but I will warn you, I am opinionated because I am a black and white kind of guy.

    The snowmobile lady was on a snowmobile, on a legal snowmobile/road crossing. She experienced trouble crossing the road and got stuck. She was not riding down the road, she was simply crossing the road which she is entitled to do by law. In the course of using her legal right to cross the road, she became an obstacle in the roadway. A drunk woman came around the corner and hit her.

    What is the issue?

    A person must be in control of their vehicle at all times. A drunk person certainly is not in control of her car period (hence the whole reason for the OUI laws anyway). Not only that, the woman behind the wheel had NO LEGAL RIGHT to be on the road. She was drunk. So who broke the law here? Obviously the driver.

    Now if things were a bit different, the drunk lady swerved and avoided the sled, and say I was riding behind her and hit the sled with my truck, its a different story. I was not drinking so I had a RIGHT to be on that road in the first place. Now the obscure crossing, dimmed headlight, etc comes into play.

    This story really highlights the problem with drinking and driving. I know there were profound reasons why this woman did not see the sled until it was too late, but if she was not impaired her reaction time might have been quicker. At the same time, at some point she knew she had been drinking and MADE THE DECISION that she could get in her car and drive home safety. She did this despite knowing that all manner of stuff would challenge her driving skills.

    Now it could have been a cow in her path, a wondering kid, or a police officer writing a ticket to some other driver. No matter, in this case it was a sled. So the facts are very simple. If this woman obeyed the law, and had not been on the road in the first place, she would not have killed that sledder. That is a true out and out fact. Now whether or not another driver would have hit the woman is all speculation. Maybe the sled would have got unstuck. Maybe the driver had enough reaction time... Who knows, all I know is this driver killed woman and MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE for her decision to drive impaired.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Downey View Post
    I've had a lot of near misses in years of driving, had I been drunk for any of them, I have to think it would have resulted in an accident that otherwise would not have happened.
    I agree.

    Personally I think there need to be much more draconian drunk driving laws. I dated a girl who suffered from epilepsy some time ago and it irritated me that it was easier for repeat drunk driving offenders to get their licenses reinstated than for her after a seizure (less than 1 seizure per year at the time and those not while behind the wheel - I do not believe that the usual repeat DWI offender only gets behind the wheel loaded once per year).

    Now having said this, I also think that some cash should be spent on prevention - I remember once in college I had had a couple more than usual and walked to the local PD to ask for a Breathalyzer to know where I was at but there wasn't a cop in sight. I could have walked out of the station with a nice Mossberg 500 if I had wanted to.

    I'm having trouble keeping rant mode off, so I'll stop here. From the original post it looks like the driver is still around - if so, I hope she is doing as best she can.

  8. #8
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    Well Travis, I have to agree with your take.

    I have only one other thing to ask, are not the prosecutors "Elected" in your area?
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  9. #9
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    One thing you have to keep in mind and I have discovered working as a Moderator here, is that you have to put personal feelings aside and go by the rules. Not what you want/like/think should be.

    I have no respect for drunk drivers. But in this case, from what I read it sounds like they did the right thing taking the plea bargain rather than risking loosing the case in court.

    Along the vein of what Stu said, You (we) can have the laws changed! I have never been involved but I have seen cases where public outcry has gotten laws change.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.


    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
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  10. #10
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    Am I reading correctly on the B.A.L. of point two three? Anyone who is familiar knowns this woman was not just out for some wine with her supper. You can't reach those levels and remain conscious unless you're a 'professional'. So . . . , she's hammered as usual and kills someone with a deadly weapon.

    Regardless of how the lawyers were able to twist this, I would have to call it manslaughter at best. If she has acquired the skill to walk and talk at .23, she knows by now that she drinks too much and has chosen to continue driving anyway. This was a choice, not an accident. She could have just as well hit them on the side of the road or in the middle of their front lawn.

    I have nothing against drinking, firearms or even explosives. I just don't want them on the highway with me. Many lives derailed in this incident. Let's give thanks for those it missed.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
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