College should have warned student not to run on street

by Walter Olson on September 1, 2008

From the “Not About the Money” files; reader D.W. writes:

Seguin is about 35 miles east of downtown San Antonio. The deceased student/athlete was an adult, chose to run on a busy street despite ample on-campus facilities, and chose to run with traffic instead of facing it. The story doesn’t say, but the street in question is actually US90, possibly the heaviest traveled street in town aside from I-10. So naturally it’s the university’s fault she was struck and killed. Oh well, it could have been worse, at least they were only held 5% responsible.

(Ron Maloney, “Jury finds TLU partially responsible”, Seguin (Texas) Gazette-Enterprise, Aug. 29; more background here and here).

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09.01.08 at 10:58 am

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1 ronjon 09.01.08 at 10:17 am

Well obviously it must be bad coaching. This was to be cross-country and this college level athlete thought to prepare by running along busy thoroughfares. I guess sucking carbon monoxide is part of the training regimen.

2 nevins 09.01.08 at 10:25 am

Was it the coach that taught her to play in the street or her parents… maybe they need to look in the mirror if they need to find someone to blame.

3 Todd Rogers 09.01.08 at 10:51 am

“It was about responsibility, which the university has never acknowledged.” I think in the non-bizarro world this sentence would have read, “It was about responsibility, which our daughter, were she alive, would certainly have acknowledged. But, since she’s not (alive), we’ll just pass it on to the university.”

4 Todd Rogers 09.01.08 at 10:52 am

Oh, and I wonder if their attorney shared the same (alleged) sentiment about it not being about the money???

5 Ron Miller 09.01.08 at 11:53 am

Right. I think it is intersting the the president of the defendant who was subject to the lawsuit was gracius and mindful of how awful the tragedy was as opposed some random commentator who did not even bother to read the article to find out who was actually found to be at primarily at fault for the accident.

6 Paul W Dennis 09.01.08 at 12:36 pm

I presume that Texas is not a “joint and several liability” state, otherwise the university could be liable for all damages not attributed by the jury as being the fault of the deceased

7 krs 09.02.08 at 8:20 am

This suit looks a little less frivolous when you take into account that the student was on the cross country team.

People who run cross country have to run tens of miles per week for training… the coaching staff presumably knows the area should have some duty to advise about where not to run.

That said, based only on the first linked news article it sounds like the jury got it about right: 5% on the university, 5% on the decedent for running with the flow of traffic, and 90% to the guy who killed her.

8 Richard Nieporent 09.02.08 at 11:30 am

As the old joke goes, if you don’t want to be hit by my car stay off the damn sidewalk.

Suarez’s accident occurred in late afternoon when Bibbs drove off Kingsbury Street onto grass, striking her.

She wasn’t hit on the road, but on the grass where one should be safe from a car. What we have is an 86 year old man who, from the newspaper account, appears to have a number of cognitive problems. In other words he should not have been driving the car. Given the driver’s inability to stay on the road, she just as likely could have been hit on any other street. This business of placing the blaming on anyone who has deep enough pockets has only one purpose, to handsomely compensate the attorney who tried the case. The jury not only got the verdict wrong when they blamed the university 5% for the accident, but also when they blamed the student 5% for the accident. She was not killed because she was running in traffic but because the driver swerved off the road. What do you think she could have done if she was facing the traffic? Do you think she could have magically leaped out of the way? She would not have time to react even if she saw the car coming at her because she would not have been expecting to have to dodge a car and because human reaction time is too slow. The only thing different is that she would have had a moment of sheer terror before she was killed.

The driver was 100% responsible for the accident. Of course, since his insurance coverage was not large enough they had to find someone else with deep pockets. As I have argued previously you can always find a nexus with some other party that preceded the accident. If you boss makes you work overtime should he be held responsible for an accident you get into on the way home? After all you may have been driving faster to make up some of the lost time, or you may have been more tired because you worked longer or if your lawyer can’t get the jury to buy those reasons he can always argue that had you left on time you would not have been on the road when the accident occurred. With enough ingenuity you can always find something, that if done differently, would have prevented the accident from occurring.

9 Jim Collins 09.02.08 at 12:26 pm

Richard,
How about the Boss who tells you that if you don’t come in to work you will be fired on a morning where the Police are warning people to stay off the roads because of the previous night’s snowfall?

My question is simple. Did the University have a designated area or route for cross-country athletes to practice or train? If she was a scholarship student and the University didn’t have an area or route for her to train, I agree with the 5%.

10 gitarcarver 09.02.08 at 12:29 pm

She wasn’t hit on the road, but on the grass where one should be safe from a car.

If the road was well lit and had curbs, I would agree with you. This road isn’t well lit or have any type of system – curb or barrier – that would bounce a car back onto the road.

What do you think she could have done if she was facing the traffic?

React. Runners and walkers are always taught to go against the flow of traffic as they might be able to see a car coming at them and move out of the way. Coming from behind, runners and walkers do not have nearly the chance to get out of the way.

I agree with many of your points, but this is a college town where a college kid was being told to train by their college coach. The college was warned 3 days previously that people were nearly getting run over and several years earlier, someone else had been killed. Don’t you think that the college could have warned her of the known risks?

Your job analogy is a decent one. Assume for a second that your boss tells you to go do something and you are injured. “Ooops! Sorry, we knew that piece of equipment was faulty and just didn’t think it was important to tell you that you could be injured.” Is that right?

I agree with the principle that people are adults, make their own decisions and be held accountable for those decisions. However, that assumes that the adult has access to all of the information. That assumes that the people that are telling the adult to go do something have given them data and information that can help prevent injury to themselves.

The college withheld information that the student could have used to make a different decision. If the college had told her of the risks, that would be a different story. But if we want to hold people accountable for their decisions, we have to hold people that withold information crucial to those decisions accountable as well.

11 Steve 09.02.08 at 1:16 pm

Hmmmm, the college “withheld” information?
If the college knew of a rapist on their campus, swould they be responsible for not alerting the students?
Should they be liable for ANY crime/accident/mistake where a person gets hurt?
Or is it possible that running alonside/in the ditch/on the sidewalk has risks?
Why did the city/sate get off with nothing? They would certainly know about many of the risks with the community.

There are a lot of risks out there and I don’t think that you can just hold someone “higher” responsible for it.

There is absolutely no responsibiity of the University or pedestrian when a driver looses control. There lots of risks out there that life experiences should help a person to navigate.

12 Reformed Republican 09.02.08 at 1:22 pm

I think it should be obvious that running on a busy street carries the risk of getting hit by a car. I am not sure what the college is responsible for providing a warning.

13 krs 09.02.08 at 1:32 pm

If the college knew of a rapist on their campus, would they be responsible for not alerting the students?

Depends. I could probably imagine a situation where I’d be comfortable saying that the college is 1/18th as responsible as the rapist.

I guess the thing that makes it hard for me to be totally outraged about this is the 5% finding by the jury.

14 Steve 09.02.08 at 2:39 pm

My point about other crimes or accidents has more to do with responsibility.

Alerts and warnings about risks and crimes like this aren’t about taking any repsonsibilty. They are about trying to help people. This is just something that communities do for each other. These risks ebb and flow with many factors, and we just try to adapt and help others adapt too.

The sad part is that there are those that believe that the University had a duty to warn just because they had a cross-country team! Should they compile stats on all crimes and “alert” everyone on everything? Or, should they rely on the individual’s own judgment and try to help when possible or necessary?

I truly believe that the parents are grieving, trying to find an answer when some lawyer comes along with blaming the school. I think any of us would be caught up in this horrible event and try to find someone to blame. The problem is that there is a push to hold anybody possible financially responsible, but it’s not about the money. Lawyers like this are not about truth and justice, they’re about being zealous advocates for their client and anything goes.

That’s the real problem with this. If they go after the only responsible person-in this case the driver of the car-it’s either chalked up to an accident (flat tire, mechanical failure, etc.) or subject to the limits of the insurance or personnal assets. I think most people can see that a much more stringent licensing could alevite some of the situations such as this, but an amount of risk-of-living remains.

15 Bill Poser 09.02.08 at 3:11 pm

“She wasn’t hit on the road, but on the grass where one should be safe from a car.”

This is not clear. The newspaper account says that the car that hit her left the road and went “onto grass”. That describes the path of the vehicle, but it doesn’t tell us at what point she was hit. She may have been on the grass, or she may have been in the road and hit as the vehicle passed from the center of the lane through the edge of the road onto the grass.

16 Richard Nieporent 09.02.08 at 5:06 pm

It is not the way I read it Bill. Think for a moment. She is on a cross-country team. What type of surface do these teams run on? The answer is grass. Thus I would expect that if you are training for the team you would run on that type of surface, correct? Also, it would be immaterial whether he left the road afterwards if he hit her on the road, so why mention it? It seems like you are simply trying to find a reason to blame the victim.

17 Richard Nieporent 09.02.08 at 5:15 pm

How about the Boss who tells you that if you don’t come in to work you will be fired on a morning where the Police are warning people to stay off the roads because of the previous night’s snowfall?

That is an interesting question Jim, but what does it have to do with this case? Unless the couch told the students that if they didn’t run alongside this road they would be dropped from the team, you comment is not relevant. To train for a cross-country race all you want is grass and hills. You don’t need a specific area to train. Also, schools don’t give out scholarships for the cross-county team.

18 Richard Nieporent 09.02.08 at 5:57 pm

if the road was well lit and had curbs, I would agree with you. This road isn’t well lit or have any type of system – curb or barrier – that would bounce a car back onto the road.

Gitarcarver, you read about cars jumping the curb all of the time. You even read about cars crashing into people’s houses. There is no way to guarantee that one will be safe. If the road is one where people are constantly being hit by cars then you have a valid point. However, you own statement that several years earlier, someone else had been killed would tell me that the road is actually safe.

19 Steve 09.02.08 at 7:41 pm

Richard,

The number of people injured on the road is meaningless.

What if there’s more deaths on an alternate but not as many injuries or accidents as this road? What if there are more pedestrians hit on this road but not others? What if a crafty lawyer can find some way to make it appear that ANY road has a statistically provable higher accident rate than another choice? (Is there anybody who DOESN’T believe that a lawyer would find one?)
What if?…What if?…What if?…

All of this does not point to the school being responsible for a careless or reckless or incapable driver running into a person on the side of the road.

Even if there were several cross-country runners who were killed on that exact road at that exact spot in almost identical circumstances.

I would almost think that if the school advised not running on that road, that they would then, almost certainly, have to offer an alternate and would then be considered more responsible for her death. Which is probably exactly what the lawyers want. Force schools to have to choose for the person and no amount of planning can get rid of bad luck and chance accidents.

The fact remains that she chose a sport called cross-country that requires her to run….cross…country…and something completely avoidable happened at NO fault of the school, but there are those out there who believe that the school had some duty toward an adult to keep risks from ever happening to her.

20 gitarcarver 09.02.08 at 8:36 pm

The sad part is that there are those that believe that the University had a duty to warn just because they had a cross-country team!

I believe that the University had a responsibility to tell the members of their cross country tream that were training for that cross country team of a risk that was known to them, as well as reported again to them three days earlier. Assume for a moment that instead of the street, this happened in a gym where the University had received a warning about the dangers of a certain piece of equipment. The kid gets on the equipment and is injured. Are you really trying to say that in that case, the school wouldn’t be responsible for not telling the kid about the danger of the machine, or removing it altogether?

Gitarcarver, you read about cars jumping the curb all of the time.

Yes they do. Now are you saying that the force and speed is the same or less than the force and speed that is required for a car to leave the road surface and onto grass?

There is no way to guarantee that one will be safe.

That is correct. The issue is whether the information being withheld from the student made her more, less or equally safe as if she had been told of the issues with the road.

If the road is one where people are constantly being hit by cars then you have a valid point.

How many other streets in the town had runners killed on them? How many other streets caused concern to the Sheriff to the point where he felt compelled to warn the school of the danger?

However, you own statement that several years earlier, someone else had been killed would tell me that the road is actually safe.

A runner being killed means a road is safe? A sheriff telling the school that he has concerns about this road and the safety of people running alone it means it is safe?

I ask again, how many runners died on other roads? How many roads compelled the sheriff to call the school about runners not being safe while running along the road? One dead runner and one sheriff means the road wasn’t safe for runners.

From the article:
“(The death of another runner a year before) was a shock to the community,” Hill said. “It was such a shock that TLU people knew about the accident. They knew about it and they discussed it. Four months before this accident, Coach Holamon (Irwin) brought it up again. The coach knew the road was unsafe, but never told the students.”

Three days before the accident, Hill said, Guadalupe County Sheriff Arnold Zwicke called Moline to express concerns about the safety of runners, and Moline told Zwicke he’d look into the situation.

If the young lady knew the risk and assumed them, that is one thing. We won’t ever know if she would have trained differently, run on different ground or even run in a different direction on the same road if she knew the dangers. The fact of the matter is that she didn’t know the dangers and the ones who witheld that information was the school.

21 Richard Nieporent 09.02.08 at 9:00 pm

Steve, I agree with you.

22 Richard Nieporent 09.02.08 at 9:11 pm

Gitarcarver, you are repeating the words of the plaintiff’s attorney. However, the University’s attorney paints a total different picture.

“We’re gathered here to talk about choices, caution and control,” Grimes said. “We’ll hear about the choices Elisa and (her training partner) made on Oct. 24, 2004, when they decided to run off campus. We’re going to hear about caution that needed to be taken when they ran along public roads, and we’re going to learn whether the university had control over Elisa Suarez, and whether they had control over what a driver does.”

“The information Sheriff Zwicke got was from an unknown man who called and said he was concerned about runners he believed to be from the middle school,” Grimes said. “He didn’t say whether they were girls or boys or what their ages were. He was concerned because they were running along Court Street in the dark. When the TLU cross country team ran on Court Street, they ran on the sidewalk.”

So why would you believe the plaintiff’s attorney over the University’s attorney?

23 Steve 09.02.08 at 9:23 pm

Gitarcarver,

This is a risk that EVERYBODY knows about!

When you run along ANY road, walk along ANY road, bike along ANY road, live along….is this trip really necessary?

She could have been running along the safest road and there would probably still be a history of some accident. I know of accidents on practically every road within 20 miles of my home. I’ve lived here long enough and enough accidents happen that that’s bound to be the case for many towns and cities across the country.

Perhaps she liked highways because of fewer intersections where she would have to stop, perhaps she likes the fact that there are more, large ditches to simulate the cross-country conditions, perhaps there are any number of reasons she chose this road that appealed to her.

You don’t need to be “told” about the dangers of a road. No info was “withheld” from her, they are under no obligation to alert her to all of the dangers peculiar to the area. They may choose to do so, but that is a service that they decide to offer.

There could be other roads more dangerous, but we won’t know until we test with a few more runners. Perhaps this road is dangerous because it has lots of runners on it, and that would shift to another road if more used it. There is a road near me, Crane road, that used to be notorious for kids racing to fast around curves and crashing and dying. It has been decades since a big crash simply because less kids race on it. They race somewhere else now.

The simple fact is that had they warned her they then would have had to offer alternatives and you could definitely find liability with that. What were they supposed to do? Command her not to run on the road? Would the parents have had the foresight to understand or would we being reading about another lawsuit. It simply is not their responibility to say where, what, when, etc. an adult can practice living.

24 gitarcarver 09.02.08 at 9:40 pm

Richard,
If anything, you are making my point for me. The school knew of the dangers and failed to warn the students.
While you might want to say that I am believing the plaintiff’s lawyer over the defendant’s, once again, from the article:
“Suarez was referring to a warning call Moline got three days before the accident from Sheriff Arnold Zwicke, saying he’d received a complaint about runners along U.S. 90A in the early morning hours. Suarez’s accident occurred in late afternoon when Bibbs drove off Kingsbury Street onto grass, striking her.”
Note: US 90A is the road in question.

This is not attributed to either lawyer, but rather seems to be a summation of the facts from the reporter.

Does it really make sense that the sheriff would get a call about middle school kids and in response call the local college?

In the end, does it matter? The college knew of the risks on that road and didn’t tell the members of the cross country team about the dangers. The college’s position of “we don’t have any control over what kids do” is laughable when examined in the light of the amount of control and influence coaches have. Do you really think that there wasn’t a log of how often and how far Suarez ran and that the log wasn’t shown to her coach? To believe otherwise is naive.

From the article:
The university had built its defense around Bibbs’ responsibility and around its former coach, Kandice Holamon Erwin, not having required Suarez to run where she had been hit.
Is this a tacit admission that the coach was requiring Suarez to run?

If you are going to require kids to run, you have a responsibility to inform them of the dangers.

25 Bill Poser 09.02.08 at 9:50 pm

“It seems like you are simply trying to find a reason to blame the victim.”

I have no axe to grind here. I just don’t think that one should go to far on limited facts. Mentioning that the car that hit her went onto the grass could easily be motivated by a desire to point out how far the car went off its proper course. It need not indicate that the runner was on the grass when hit. As to whether she would run on the grass rather than in the road because she is training for cross-country, again, that is hardly definitive. Long distance runners do not necessarily do all of their training on the same surface as what they run on in races. Cross-country runners will sometimes run laps around an indoor track if they just want the exercise and don’t want to get cold or wet. If she was really looking for realistic training conditions, she probably would not have been running alongside a road but would have looked for open space in which to run.

26 gitarcarver 09.02.08 at 9:55 pm

Steven,
This is a risk that EVERYBODY knows about!
Which of course flies in the face of the sheriff calling the school about this. Apparently not “EVERYONE” knew about it.

You don’t need to be “told” about the dangers of a road. No info was “withheld” from her, they are under no obligation to alert her to all of the dangers peculiar to the area. They may choose to do so, but that is a service that they decide to offer.

If you and the school want to play “ignorance is bliss” when it comes to the life of students, be prepared to accept the consequences of that ignorance. The school made a conscience decision that the warning of a professional – the sheriff – about the dangers of that road were not important enough to pass along to the runners that ran for their team and wore their school name on their back.

What were they supposed to do?

Pass the information they had gotten from the sheriff to the runners. Remind the runners that a runner was killed on that road a year earlier.

It simply is not their responibility to say where, what, when, etc. an adult can practice living.

Who is advocating that? The fact of the matter is that the school knew of the dangers and didn’t pass those dangers onto the runners. I guess you believe that drug companies shouldn’t tell people of the dangers of a certain drug. After all, the people taking the drug are adults and EVERYONE knows that there can be dangers in taking a drug. I guess you believe that a car company shouldn’t worry about telling drivers about bad brakes or a fuel system that catches on fire because EVERYONE knows that cars break at sometime.

If you want the school to treat Suarez like an adult, they’d better give her the information to make adult decisions when forcing her to train for a team.

27 krs 09.03.08 at 8:51 am

Steve, switch to decaf. You make some good points, and I don’t know how I would have voted if I was on the jury.

I’m regularly outraged at the frivolous lawsuits and ridiculous results posted on this blog. In this case, though, we’re arguing over 10% of the jury verdict. I find it difficult to be too upset over this. When the school sets up something like a cross country team, it has some responsibility to make the activity reasonably safe for the participants. Maybe that duty extended to warning the runners off of the road in this case; maybe it didn’t. The jury was 90% right? Good. B+ for them.

28 Richard Nieporent 09.03.08 at 9:45 am

When the school sets up something like a cross country team, it has some responsibility to make the activity reasonably safe for the participants.

I see your point krs and gitarcaver. If the school had carried out their responsibilities properly they would have shown the following video to the member of the cross-country team to warm them of the dangers they faced.

29 Steve 09.03.08 at 12:06 pm

KRS,

I do drink decaf! Does it come across like I don’t? :)

It seems that people are focusing on previous injuries on some roadway a year before as a means to acountability to the school. As if it’s unique! A few thousand punds of steel moving at 25-65 MPH can cause injury? Who Knew?

Why stop at a year? Why not go back to any random point where an accident happened on a roadway anywhere and use that as your complaint? What, someone was killed here in 1976? They KNEW and didn’t tell anybody? Those bastards!

Let’s review, the Sheriff sees a deadly accident, he makes the monumental leap that “If only that person wasn’t running here” and “warns” the school of that great hidden danger that cars go fast and weigh alot and can hurt people if they run over them.

So, if the Sheriff had NOT notified the school, they should be off the hook?

The school apparently needs to warn of all dangers in the area, huh?

Here’s what should have been done if you beleive that the school was partially responsible:

1. Compile statistics on all roads in the community-not just those that people could or would be enticed to run on (Why stop there though? How about walk, ride a bike, drive a car, take the bus, etc.) Statistics shoud include:
A. Width of the road.
B. Width of lanes.
C. Number of lanes.
D. Size and width and type of shoulder.
E. Ditch dimensions and features.
F. Curb or gutter presence and features.
G. Sidewalk presence and features.
H. Speed Limit.
I. Number of cars per hour/day/etc.
J. Peak drive times.
K. Type of vehicles.
L. Type of drivers.
M. Number of accidents in previous years with accompanying graphs.
N. Any other relevant info that an ADULT could use to make that all important “informed decision.”
O. Some formulation on how all the road info works to determine safety-at this point in time, at least.

2. Convene a panel of experts to examine the data and suggest possible choices IF the runners decide to go off campus (remember it’s called cross-country not cross-campus.)

3. Present this data to the students as a SUGGESTION (or perhaps they should be required to only run where approved with suspension or expulsion from the team/school as possible penalties)
((Let me reiterate that I don’t believe that the student or her parents in any way have any responsibility here. She chose to do some training, in a free country, where she saw fit to and the lawyer suing the “reponsible” parties is almost certainly where the decision to include the school came from. The fact that it’s “safer” to face traffic while running in the ditch does not mean much. It sounds more like an attempt to put some blame on the runner for a driver who is NOT in control of his vehicle!))

4. Start over at step 1 when the stats change because people are training in different locations and the auto/pedestrian accidents have shifted to some new arbitrary location.

Then we’d all be safer. Right?

As to my statement that this is a risk that everybody knows about, are you saying that you didn’t know that roads are dangerous? Until they built a subdivision down the thru street that I grew up on, I used to get into lots of trouble for playing with the tar bubbles in the street-we would have 1-2 cars a week other than the few people that lived there. What I’m refering to is the required-to-make-to-puberty knowledge that ALL roads have an inherent danger.

30 gitarcarver 09.03.08 at 12:26 pm

The school apparently needs to warn of all dangers in the area, huh?
They should warn the students of the known dangers in the area before sending them out to train for the school team.

Until they built a subdivision down the thru street that I grew up on, ….
This is the second time that you have used an story where people have knowledge based on living in an area for a number of years. You even wrote “I’ve lived here long enough…” with the implication that length of time in a location increases knowledge of what areas and what streets are safer than others.

You are trying to compare your knowledge of roads over time to a college student’s lack of knowledge of the area as they do not live there all the time.

What I’m refering to is the required-to-make-to-puberty knowledge that ALL roads have an inherent danger.
Yet some roads are more dangerous than others. You seem to deny that reality. So here we have a street on which a runner was killed a year ago, and one on which the sheriff thought was worrisome enough to call the school and remind them of the dangers. The school, before sending this woman out to train so she could represent them and bring honor and glory to the school on the atheletic field, decided not to warn, remind, or educate the runners about the dangers in the area.

While it is an interesting thought to say that she was an adult and was making an adult decision, the fact of the matter was that she was making a decision based on information that was at best incomplete and made incomplete by the school.

So let’s review. You claim that knowledge on dangers in the area come from being in the area for some time. She wasn’t there for some time, so that negates that arguement.
You claim that she made an adult decision, but the fact of the matter is that the school deliberately withheld information that allowed her to make an informed decision on the risks of running in a certain area. Not only did they not tell her of the risks, they told her to go run and train.

This is not a case of “all roads are dangerous,” but rather a school witholding information as to which roads are more dangerous than others and then telling the runner to go train out on those roads.

31 Steve 09.03.08 at 1:38 pm

It is absolutely a case of “all roads are dangerous.”

I didn’t get into trouble because of the tar on my hands, I got into trouble because it was evidence of my playing in the road and my parents made the leap that no amount or speed of traffic makes the road “safer”. I just should not play in it.

Of course I’m going to use the knowledge and experience that I’ve gained and been told over the years, it helps me survive.

My point is that there is a history of the area not presented here that, if I were a gambling man, I could put money on the bet that EVERY road has had a serious injury or fatality on.

If the school had compiled a list of roads based on current safety stats, and she was hit by the same out of control driver on the safest road, would you absolve the school of all responsibility because they offered her the best odds? She would still have to make the decision to pick the safest of the roads listed, but they’re off the hook now, right? Of course not! The lawyer would find anything that pointed to the non-safety of the road in an attempt to hold the school liable and get some cash.

I beleive that this accident stands by itself. The history of casualties on this road didn’t “cause” this to happen to her. The randomness of this type of accident is completely different from the higher risk of running alongside a busy high-speed road, as opposed to a less traveled and slower one. Out-of-control drivers can happen anywhere so this doesn’t fall into a failure to warn category.

32 gitarcarver 09.03.08 at 2:21 pm

It is absolutely a case of “all roads are dangerous.”

You keep forgetting that some roads are more dangerous than others.

Of course I’m going to use the knowledge and experience that I’ve gained and been told over the years, it helps me survive.

So you agree that someone that has lived in an area for longer would have more knowledge of which streets are more dangerous than others. Being that the school has been there longer than Suarez, and being that the sheriff warned the school of the dangers, you believe that the school has no obligation other than to say “go out and train for our team.”

In your mind, the school was right to ignore the warning from the sheriff, ignore the discussions they had 4 months earlier about the death of the runner, and then tell this kid to go run and train. The school knew the risks. The runner didn’t. The school sent the kid out to run. The runner did what the school wanted. The school had a duty to protect their runner and if they want to say she made an adult choice, give the information they have to the runner.

My point is that there is a history of the area not presented here that, if I were a gambling man, I could put money on the bet that EVERY road has had a serious injury or fatality on.

Yet we are not talking about “every” road. We are talking about a specific road where a runner was killed and a specific road that the school was warned about. Your postion is akin to saying “all drugs have side effects, therefore the company has no responsibility to warn customers what those side effects are, and the severity of those side effects.”

She would still have to make the decision to pick the safest of the roads listed, but they’re off the hook now, right?

So you are saying that the school was on the hook for failing to warn, and if they did warn, they would be still be on the hook for failing to warn. Sorry, once again this doesn’t pass the smell test. If the school had warned the runner, I would be sitting here saying “she knew the facts and made a decision.” Instead, she didn’t know the facts because the school withheld them from her.

The randomness of this type of accident….

Yet there was more to this than a “randomness.” There was a specific warning to the school about this road. There was a recent death to a runner that occured on this road. The school was telling a runner to go out and train for their school without telling the runners of this specific threat.

33 Steve 09.03.08 at 3:20 pm

So, the recentness of the death makes the difference. If it was ten years ago, does that remove it from the unsafe pool of roads?

How many deaths happened on each road of this community? Is your claim that this road is unsafe because of the total number of accidents with runners or on the fact that it had lots of traffic and higher speeds? Some other reason?

Who compiles all of this data and becomes resposible for administering and disseminating it?

Or, is it just because there is A history with this road? Just like any road in America.

You seem to be focusing on the fact there was at least one death and the Sheriff called about another completely different road and different circumstances. It doesn’t work that way. Except for the lawyer.

Or we seriously to believe that the lawyer didn’t notice that the sheriff call was about an entirely different road? Was he trying to show the callousness of TYU by making a connection to this case?

I refuse to belive that this 20 yr old was so naive so as not to know that certain characteristics, that are visible to the naked eye, can mean that the road is more or less dangerous. If we were talking about young kids who don’t understand yet, I could understand to some extent(My wife and I consider that OUR responsibility when under our supervision.) This was not a child under anybody’s supervision.

I keep rereading the 3 articles and fall back to the same thoughts: If these were kids walking to town on a city street, who would be responsible for a driver jumping the curb, running them over and then stopping later to “help?”

Why does she have to be informed of every possible unique risk of the community before being allowed to exercise her right to freedom? Could she not have asked for suggestions? Of course, a response from the school would immediately be seen as cause for holding them responsible. This appears to be a line of reasoning fashioned to hold TYU responsible for risks that are everywhere towards the actions of adults.

I’m trying to write this between issues at work and I feel like I’m rambling. :)

Humor me with one more question: How would warning them about an accident a year ago on this road and the concerns of Sheriff over some other road provide anybody with enough info to make that all too important “informed decision?”

34 gitarcarver 09.03.08 at 4:34 pm

You seem to be focusing on the fact there was at least one death and the Sheriff called about another completely different road and different circumstances. It doesn’t work that way. Except for the lawyer.

The school said in their openins statement that the sheriff called about another road. The plaintiff’s in their opening statement said the call was about that particular road. The final article – after the sworn testimony – says the the sheriff’s call was about Route 90A which is the road in question.

Why does she have to be informed of every possible unique risk of the community before being allowed to exercise her right to freedom?

She doesn’t have to be informed of every risk. She should be informed of the risks known to the school before the school sends her out to train.

You keep focusing on “every road.” It is not every road, it is a specific road. You keep trying to focus on “every warning.” It is not every warning, it is a specific warning. It is not “every student” it is a specific group of students that the coach says “go train.”

This appears to be a line of reasoning fashioned to hold TYU responsible for risks that are everywhere towards the actions of adults.

I’m trying to write this between issues at work and I feel like I’m rambling.

You’re rambling because you keep bringing up issues that are not in this case. While the risk of injury may have be everywhere, the school knew that the risk on this particular street was greater than other streets. They sent this kid out on a training run without telling her the risk and the history of running on that particular road.

We will never know what Suarez’s decision would have been if she had been informned of the risk of running on this road. We’ll never know because the school ignored the history of the road, and the warning of a professional on the dangers of that road.

35 Steve 09.03.08 at 5:32 pm

You still did not answer my last question: How would providing this ONE piece of info about this ONE road allow a person to make a truly informed decision? you need info on ALL of the roads in an unfamiliar area.

Unless you compile, administer and efectively disseminate data for all the roads on an ongoing basis, there is no way that a person could make an informed decision. Sure they won’t travel on Route 90A, but maybe they go to another road that’s more dangeroous for them. Pehaps TYU has not had the misfortune of other hit runners to scare others away from some other roads yet. Perhaps the coach or TYU leads them to a road that appears safe to them anectdotaly but is statistically much worse in reality.

This is central to your argument that:

“While the risk of injury may have be everywhere, the school knew that the risk on this particular street was greater than other streets. They sent this kid out on a training run without telling her the risk and the history of running on that particular road.”

Really? Being a big university, TYU had ALL the necessary data on ALL of the surrounding roads to give an unknowing outsider a perfect picture of the risk of ALL said roads?

Sounds more like hindsight. “If only she had known about that accident….”

As to the call to the Sheriff, according to the first 2 articles, the call was about a different road. The last article is ambiguous at best. If we could read the testimony, that would help clear it up, but the article does not say that that was refuted-it just restates the position of Suarez.

36 Richard Nieporent 09.03.08 at 5:43 pm

This is not a case of “all roads are dangerous,” but rather a school witholding information as to which roads are more dangerous than others and then telling the runner to go train out on those roads.

Gitarcarver, you have repeated this same point over and over and over again. However, what you conveniently leave out in your mantra is that the warning had nothing to do with the accident that killed her. It was not the road that led to her death, but the fact that a senile old man who should not have a license to drive ran off the road and plowed into her. It is just as likely that he would have killed someone on a different road. It was just a coincidence that he hit her on this road. A sidewalk or a curb would not have made a difference. You constantly read stories about these incompetent drivers hitting people on sidewalks or going through barriers to plow into crowds. The excuse is always that they mistook the accelerator pedal for the brake; the more out of control they were the harder they hit the gas. Nothing short of a Jersey wall could have protected her from this incompetent driver.

A quick google search turned up the following accidents involving older drivers.

An elderly man who killed 10 people and injured more than 70 others when he drove through an outdoor farmers market was sentenced today to probation, the Associated Press reports. It adds that the judge said he believed the crime deserved imprisonment, but the defendant was too ill.

George Russell Weller, 89, was convicted Oct. 20 of 10 counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence in a case that ignited debate over the licensing of elderly drivers. Weller, confined to a sickbed, was not present.

George Russell Weller, then 86, killed 10 people and injured more than 70 when he drove his Buick Le Sabre into a crowded farmers market in Santa Monica, Calif., on July 16, 2003.

His attorneys explained that Weller had confused his car’s accelerator for the brake. He was convicted of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/11/20/national/main2200813.shtml

An 8-year-old girl was serious injured when an elderly man drove his SUV over a sidewalk and pinned her against the front of Lyons Elementary School today.

The driver of the SUV, William Geisler, 86, of Randolph, was trying to park the vehicle so that he could go inside the school to vote in the presidential primary. Police said Geisler lost control of his Ford Escape, it went over a grassy area and then onto the sidewalk in front of the school and struck the girl, pinning her against the school building.

Oct. 15, 2007:
Jane Berghold, 76, of Rockland, drives her car through the front doors of Brockton Hospital’s radiation center, killing Dr. Mark A. Vasa, 58, of Norwell, and Susan Plante, 59, of East Bridgewater. Berghold faces two counts of motor vehicle homicide by negligent operation.

Feb. 13, 2006:
An 88-year-old North Weymouth woman strikes another woman with her car, smashing the woman through a 7-Eleven storefront window and pinning her beneath the vehicle, seriously injuring her.

Oct. 1, 2005:
Enrico Caruso, 66, drives his car into a crowd outside a Stoneham elementary school, pinning several adults and children to a stone wall and injuring 12. Caruso is convicted of negligent driving.

Nov. 11, 2004:
Joseph Davis, 80, of East Bridgewater, runs over and kills William Hammond, 81, of Abington, during the Tri-Town Veterans Day parade in Whitman.

March 22, 2002:
David Sacca, 75, of Stoughton, passes out while driving and his car strikes and kills 10-year-old Kevin Coombes as he talks with friends on a sidewalk on Summer Street. The boy’s family files a lawsuit against Sacca’s physician, claiming he did not adequately warn Sacca about the potential side effects of the medications he was prescribed.

http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/state/x469092623

Brian Fay, 19, was making change for a customer at a Sears store in Orlando on Oct. 9 when he heard what he thought was a bomb. Fay looked toward the store entrance and saw a pane of glass shatter and fall to the floor. Then he “looked down and saw (a) car barreling” toward him.

Elizabeth Jane Baldick, 84, drove her car into the cash register counter Fay was using, knocking him over. Bleeding, he rushed to check on Baldick, whose car had come to rest against a concrete pillar. Her foot was still pressed firmly against the accelerator, the tires screeching against the tiles on the floor.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-05-02-older-drivers-usat1a_N.htm

Last year, 75-year-old Stella Maychick mowed down an afternoon crowd in New York City’s Washington Square Park, killing four people and injuring 27 others.

In July, 83-year-old Meyer Holtzin lost control of his car in a supermarket parking lot in Philadelphia; according to witnesses and a police diagram, he hit a tree, careened through the air,and landed at a bus stop, striking three children waiting there with their father and killing one of them, six-year-old Bruce Ferguson Jr.

Salvatore Starvaggi, an 88-year-old former truck driver, for one, was on nine different medications last year when he ran down his wife and killed her in a Wayne, N.J., shopping-mall parking lot while trying to pick her up, according to a National Transportation Safety Board accident report.

Across town at another mall that day, 82-year-old Ralph Naimoli plowed into three pedestrians in the parking lot, landing all of them in the hospital. Even though one of the pedestrians ended up on the hood of his Oldsmobile Delta 88, and even though the car also careened into a tree,”I continue to drive,” Mr. Naimoli said last month.

http://www.joanrigdon.com/clips/olddriver.html

Shall I go on? There is no way to prevent these tragedies unless we get these senile people off the road. In all of these cases it is not the roads that kill, but the people that should not be driving on them. Or would you suggest that we warn people to stay off of sidewalks and not go into stores? Place the blame where it belongs not on someone with deep pockets.

37 Steve 09.03.08 at 5:51 pm

I’m passing the reigns to Richard, my brain hurts :)

….Sorry Richard

38 gitarcarver 09.03.08 at 6:26 pm

You still did not answer my last question:

I did answer it. You just don’t like the answer. The answer is that it gives the person the ability to avoid a road on which a runner was killed and the sheriff has concerns about.

Really?

Yes really. The kid wasn’t killed on another road. He was killed on THAT road. The staff didn’t have discussions as far as we know about the dangers of other roads, they had a discussion about the dangers of THAT road. The sheriff didn’t call about other roads, he called about THAT road.

What gives the school the right to withold information about the dangers of a road and then send a runner out to train?

Gitarcarver, you have repeated this same point over and over and over again. However, what you conveniently leave out in your mantra is that the warning had nothing to do with the accident that killed her.

Just out of curiosity, how many of the people in your articles were sent out by their bosses / superiors / coaches onto those areas?

Place the blame where it belongs not on someone with deep pockets.

So your position is that when a school tells a kid to go out and train, running the streets of an unfamilier city, they have no responsibility to protect them, or give them information as to what routes and roads are more dangerous than others. The school has no reponsibility to pass onto the their charges the dangers of a road that the professional on road dangers – the sheriff – called them about.

That doesn’t pass the smell test.

39 OBQuiet 09.03.08 at 8:32 pm

I am not sure here, but the victim is reported to have been 20 years old in October of 2006. I think that makes it unlikely she was a freshman. The report also says that the death the year before was a shock to the community. That suggests that she would have been aware of the previous accident. Though it is possible she was a new student that semester.

Schools are not intended to be nursemaids for young adults. This was tragic but the fault lies squarely on the driver and possibly a bit on the victim for running in an unsafe manner, the wrong side of the road. Not on the School.

40 Richard Nieporent 09.03.08 at 9:51 pm

So your position is that when a school tells a kid to go out and train, running the streets of an unfamilier city, they have no responsibility to protect them, or give them information as to what routes and roads are more dangerous than others. The school has no reponsibility to pass onto the their charges the dangers of a road that the professional on road dangers – the sheriff – called them about.

No, Gitarcarver , that is not my position and you know it. Did you not read my very long post about senile drivers? My position as I clearly stated it is that it was the senile driver and not the road that killed the cross-country runner. I gave you example after example of how these drivers kill people on the road, in parking lots, on sidewalks and even inside stores! Can you not see that this driver was a menace on any road that he was driving on? It was just a coincidence that he killed someone on this road.

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