I first heard of the death of local museum operator and historian Greg Hawley on the evening news. I was surprised to read later that Hawley died “in a Saturday accident.” The article describes how an 18-year old was charged with involuntary manslaughter, having lost control of his vehicle while racing another car and crashing into Hawley’s pickup.
This was not an “accident,” and I wish the media would stop referring to these events as such. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a campaign in 1997 called “Crashes aren’t accidents.” We need to change this “accident” mentality and, as the Jackson County Prosecutor’s office has done in this case, hold individuals accountable for their actions.
Sadly, the article further reports that Greg Hawley was not wearing a seat belt and was killed after being ejected from his vehicle, which overturned. In rollovers, vehicles’ doors fly open, and their windshields break. Unbelted occupants are more than 10 times more likely to be ejected. Ejection results in far more deaths and serious injuries.
The Kansas City community has lost a unique, fascinating individual, and it was not an accident.
Saturday evening we received a disturbing phone call from our daughter as she sadly described an “accident” she had just witnessed on I-70 at Lee’s Summit Road.
She told of seeing it all unfold, with the teens racing down the highway and swerving in and out of traffic behind her, and then barely passing her only to lose control and run into and flip a pickup truck driven by a man — a father, a grandfather — returning home from work. She told of holding the man’s hand as he lay there bleeding, tears running down her cheeks as she noted this man was about the same age as her father.
Crying, she asked us, “Why? What were they thinking?” This incident will traumatize her for God only knows how long.
Fearing not for her own safety, she ran to this man. She held his hand and whispered to him that help was coming.
I have to believe that this man was comforted by her soft touch and the outpouring of love and comfort from a young girl he never knew or, as it turned out, he would never know. I am very proud of the fine young lady that we have raised.
Mark S. Wilson