EDITORIAL: Running away a cowardly act

You can run, but you can’t escape the consequences of a fatal crash.

Police are confident they will find whoever was responsible for the hit-and-run death of a White Rock woman last week.

The woman was in a crosswalk when she was hit by a vehicle that was travelling at high speed – and had, reportedly, already sideswiped another car. It appears that the driver had already attracted the interest of police, and was fleeing to avoid them.

A vehicle suspected involved in the crash was found in South Surrey shortly after the tragedy; its driver presumably fled on foot.

The instinct for flight is a primal defensive response in the human animal. On a visceral level, it makes some sense – and can be understood by most of us, no matter what the circumstances.

But in the context of a tragic, needless death, fleeing the scene is little more than cowardice.

It inflicts an additional burden of suffering on the loved ones of the victim – not only must they grieve the loss, but they are denied closure by someone who knows the facts but who lacks the necessary intestinal fortitude to come forward.

And it is pointless because, at some point, the truth will be known and the evidence will incriminate the perpetrator. At that point, the flight, and the subsequent evasion of responsibility, cannot help but colour the way the crash and the driver responsible are perceived. It’s possible that other factors that contributed to the event, or would mitigate responsibility, exist – but they could not fail to be overshadowed by such an apparent admission of guilt.

Public perception can be hard, as we know from the sad example of Carol Berner, convicted of causing the May 2008 death of four-year-old Alexa Middelaer.

Berner, however, had remained at that scene and was breathalyzed, even though she has maintained that it was a mechanical problem in her car, and not impaired driving, that was to blame. How much worse would the perception have been had she taken flight?

Alexa’s mother, Laurel, recently rallied to the side of the parents of Kassandra Kaulius – a young woman who died May 3, allegedly at the hands of an impaired driver who fled the scene.

A suspect in Kaulius’s death was later apprehended – as most will be, given modern developments in gathering and tracking evidence.

But the hit-and-run driver responsible for the death of an elderly woman in the east side of White Rock last year, is still at large, at this writing.

In a moral sense – and for anyone with even the smallest vestige of conscience – not being discovered must be the severest consequence of all to the perpetrator of a hit-and-run, particularly one that results in a death.

Not actually facing the music for such an act – but living daily with the anticipation and fear of it – is a soul-destroying sentence that not even the toughest judge or jury could mete out.

– Peace Arch News