February 21, 1996 in City

As Responsible Human Beings, We Must Require Accountability

Robert Coltrin Special To Opinion
 

This beautiful woman I’ve known for 30 years was unrecognizable. Her lips were twisted and grotesque because of the bandages and tubes that kept her alive. They’d shaved her head to insert a probe in her skull. Every night, we watched the monitor, knowing if the pressure rose above a certain point, the odds were a little smaller that she’d live or be normal.

For three weeks, she lay in a coma, only because she had walked out of a downtown Spokane office building at the wrong time. That’s it. Nothing more. A boy on a bike - days from being 18 - slammed her to the concrete pavement and cracked her skull.

He didn’t know it was against the law to ride on the sidewalk.

The boy remained at the scene. A report was written. His bicycle was confiscated. Janice was taken to intensive care.

If you’ve read this far, here’s what’s wrong. You’ve already tossed this off as another hard-luck story. The boy didn’t mean to do it, right?

Janice is home now. Many months have passed. She knows she never will taste or smell again. She knows she always will be deaf in her left ear. She knows her double vision and dizziness may prevent her from driving or returning to her career. She knows the constant ringing may never go away.

She knows nothing is going to happen to the boy. Nothing!

The police told us he would be held accountable. More and more, this becomes unlikely. Meetings with the police and prosecuting attorneys only make it more evident that nothing will happen to this boy. We actually were told that in most cases, a jury would not hold the boy accountable. He didn’t mean to hurt her. Why ruin his life?

Sentencing guidelines, if he were found guilty, call for three months’ probation and community service. Janice gladly would serve three months and community service if it meant returning to normal. Her life has been changed forever. This boy hasn’t even said he’s sorry. I don’t think he cared about anything other than getting his bike back.

Nothing will change. Attitudes won’t. Laws won’t. Twelve jurors won’t. You’ll even ride your bike on the sidewalk because you know you would never be that careless.

I’m wrong. Something will change.

You’ll leave a building a little more cautiously from now on. You wouldn’t want this to happen to you.

MEMO: “Your turn” is a feature of the Wednesday and Saturday Opinion pages. To submit a “Your turn” column for consideration, contact Rebecca Nappi at 459-5496 or Doug Floyd at 459-5466 or write “Your turn,” The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane 99210-1615.

“Your turn” is a feature of the Wednesday and Saturday Opinion pages. To submit a “Your turn” column for consideration, contact Rebecca Nappi at 459-5496 or Doug Floyd at 459-5466 or write “Your turn,” The Spokesman-Review, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane 99210-1615.


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