Raquel Nelson of Marietta and her three children were hit by a tipsy two-time hit-and-runner, Jerry L. Guy, in April 2010. Nelson's 4-year-old later died of his injuries. But prosecutors dropped a homicide charge against Guy, and he was sentenced to two years for hit-and-run and served only six months. Nelson, who was convicted this week of vehicular manslaughter for having the chutzpah to cross a street, could get 36 months — six times longer than the man who killed her child.
What could Nelson have done instead? Basically either stayed inside or gotten some flying shoes. The court considered Nelson's street crossing "reckless," but her neighborhood has a Walkscore of 25, and the Marietta area ranks 11th in the nation for dangerousness to pedestrians. The street Nelson and her kids were crossing, Austell Road, is particularly dangerous — it's a four-lane divided highway where safe crossings are sporadic. One of Guy's previous hit-and-runs also happened on that road. After Nelson's conviction, the president of a pedestrian advocacy organization pointed out that the city could have added a safe crossing for the cost of the trial. But that would mean prioritizing people over traffic.
Penalizing pedestrians for trying to walk in pedestrian-unfriendly areas is something of a trend this year. In March, two men who were hit while crossing a four-lane road in Virginia were served with tickets for "interfering with traffic" while they were recuperating in the hospital. Serves 'em right for trying to walk in the cars' territory! What the hell do cars pay taxes for, anyway?