Hergott: Don’t villainize those involved in tragedy

Lawyer Paul Hergott says something good can come from the deepest of tragedies

I believe that something good can come from the deepest of tragedies.

Prepare your heart if you choose to read further. Though, the greater the shock to your heart, the more likely it will trigger the “something good” I am talking about.

And please don’t villainize those directly involved in the tragedy I am about to share.

There is a tendency to do that. Like we villainized the truck driver in the Humboldt Broncos crash.

I believe that tendency to be something of a defence mechanism. The more we focus on the bus driver, himself, as being the villain, the less we have to face the painful realization that we could cause a similar tragedy.

That each of us sometimes allows our minds to wander behind the wheel. That each of us sometimes fails to notice what’s right there to be seen. That if circumstances line up horribly perfectly, each of us could fail to notice a stop sign.

It is by looking in the mirror and facing that painful realization that something good can flow. We might choose to increase our level of attention behind the wheel. We might realize that this is something that does not come naturally, and takes work. And we might make the choice not to do things that actively remove our brains from the task at hand.

And that would be a beautiful legacy left by all of those whose lives were lost or forever altered.

Late Wednesday night, July 31, 2019, while everyone was packing up and leaving a drive-in theater on Montreal’s South Shore, a vehicle backed over a small tent where a four month old baby was sleeping.

According to the news report I read , “Police believe it was an accident and do not expect charges to be laid.”

Well of course it was an “accident” in the sense that it was unintentional. As was the Humboldt Broncos crash.

The driver did not intend to drive over a sleeping baby. The driver reasonably expected that everyone was up and about, putting lawn chairs away and getting into their cars. Anyone behind their vehicle would be visible through the rear-view and side mirrors, lit up by the reverse lights.

Who would have expected there to be someone below the field of view, let alone a small tent with an infant?

Could it have been you?

Or do you take the steps necessary, every time, to ensure you do not hurt someone when you put your vehicle into reverse?

If you don’t have a back-up camera, it is imperative to put eyes on the area behind your vehicle before you get in. Not just to see what’s there, but also to see if someone nearby might get there before you start reversing.

And a back-up camera won’t help you see down the sidewalks and street if you are backing out of a driveway with a blocked view.

By taking just a bit of extra time, you can achieve certainty about what is behind you before you reverse. If you don’t, you risk circumstances lining up horribly perfectly like they did for the driver who killed that baby.

If your heart has been shocked into taking those steps from now on, remembering that baby every time you put your car in reverse, something good will have come from that horrible event.

There are other driving behaviours that would best become standard, “every time” things. If not, you might go your entire lives without facing horrible consequences. But you will be continually putting yourself and others at risk of circumstances lining up like they did for the driver who killed that baby.

I will go over some of those other driving behaviours in my next column.

Missed last week’s column?

Hergott: E-scooters, injuries and legal implications

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