Archive for Friday, June 6, 2008

Video shows bystanders ignoring hit-and-run victim

June 6, 2008


— A 78-year-old man is tossed like a rag doll by a hit-and-run driver and lies motionless on a busy city street as car after car goes by. Pedestrians gawk but appear to do nothing. One driver stops briefly but then pulls back into traffic. A man on a scooter slowly circles the victim before zipping away.

The chilling scene - captured on video by a streetlight surveillance camera - has touched off a round of soul-searching in Hartford, with the capital city's biggest newspaper blaring "SO INHUMANE" on the front page and the police chief lamenting: "We no longer have a moral compass."

"We have no regard for each other," said Chief Daryl Roberts, who on Wednesday released the video in hopes of making an arrest in the accident that left Angel Arce Torres in critical condition.

However, Roberts and other city officials backtracked on Thursday. After initially saying he was unsure whether anyone called 911, he and other city officials appeared at a news conference in which they said that four people dialed 911 within a minute of the accident, and that Torres received medical attention shortly after that.

"This moved too quickly," said Calixto Torres, City Council president. "People were putting information out too quickly."

Roberts said his initial angry reaction was based on what he saw in the video. "The video was very graphic and sent a very bad message," the police chief said.

The hit-and-run took place in daylight last Friday at about 5:45 p.m. in a working-class neighborhood close to downtown in this city of 125,000.

In the video, Torres, a retired fork-lift operator, walks in the two-way street just blocks from the state Capitol after buying milk at a grocery. A tan Toyota and a dark Honda that is apparently chasing it veer across the center line, and Torres is struck by the Honda. Both cars then dart down a side street.

Nine cars pass Torres as a few people stare from the sidewalk. Some approach Torres, but most stay put until a police cruiser responding to an unrelated call arrives on the scene after about a minute and a half.

"Like a dog they left him there," said a disgusted Jose Cordero, 37, who was with friends Thursday not far from where Torres was struck. Robert Luna, who works at a store nearby, said: "Nobody did nothing."

One witness, Bryant Hayre, told the Courant he didn't feel comfortable helping Torres, who he said was bleeding and conscious.

The accident - and bystanders' apparent callousness - dominated morning radio talk shows.

"It was one of the most despicable things I've seen by one human being to another," the Rev. Henry Brown, a community activist, said in an interview. "I don't understand the mind-set anymore. It's kind of mind-boggling. We're supposed to help each other. You see somebody fall, you want to offer a helping hand."

The victim's son, Angel Arce, begged the public for help in finding the driver. "My father is fighting for his life," he said.

The hit-and-run is the second violent crime to shock Hartford this week. On Monday, former Deputy Mayor Nicholas Carbone, 71, was beaten and robbed while walking to breakfast. He remains hospitalized and faces brain surgery.

"There was a time they would have helped that man across the street. Now they mug and assault him," police chief said. "Anything goes."


RedwoodCoast 10 years ago

Good one, Baille. I was going to say that, but I was going to call it 'diffusion of responsibility.' If you're not the only one ignoring such a situation, it just makes it easier to make it not your problem.

Adrienne Sanders 10 years ago

That's disgusting. Everyone "doesn't want to get involved" or waits for someone else to do something, then nobody does anything. Even if you don't know first aid, wouldn't you want to either move him or prevent him from being hit by another car that didn't see him in the road?

KansasPerson 10 years ago

I realize this might sound naive, but one of my first thoughts when seeing this on the news this morning was, "I cannot imagine this happening in Lawrence."Now, someone here might have a story of just this very thing (or something similar) happening here, but honestly, I've gotta say that every time I've been in any kind of mess, or witnessed anyone else in a accident-type scenario, fellow Lawrencians have zoomed in to help.It makes me glad to live here.

Jim Phillips 10 years ago

Lovely! Just freakin' lovely. Makes one proud to be an American!

fu7il3 10 years ago

Keeping them calm would at least have been something. If you are going to do nothing, at least leave the area, don't sit there and gawk like you don't care whether the person lives or dies.If you don't know what to do, at least let the person know you are there and try to comfort them a bit.

Baille 10 years ago

Did none of you take sociology or psychology in college?Jesus.Well, Welcome to the bystander effect. It's a common human behavior well documented and studied. Has little to do with "attitudes" here or elsewhere.For more information, go here: here: here: similar event happened last year in Wichita at a convenience store. Should be easy to find through google. But who would expect anything more. You know about those Wichitonians and their "attitudes." Damned liberal city if there ever was one.

Confrontation 10 years ago

From the attitudes I've seen in Lawrence, I could definitely see something like this happening here.

pace 10 years ago

It has happened here, there was a, I believe, a fire victim who was in north lawrence, he staggered to the highway, many people drove by, his appearance was odd and scary. It is scary and if you are untrained, even more so. Don't move the victim, but to sit near and keep them calm until trained help arrives can save a life, at the least it is the humane thing to do. Take a moment to read basic first aid directions, or take a course, it could be your family member next.

Baille 10 years ago

C'mon, MD. Don't spoil my vinegar with your honey. My condescension and elitism will not be derailed by your careless graciousness and intemperate politeness!

grimpeur 10 years ago

Dude. Please. I can't be bothered to interrupt my text messaging session to help some stranger! He shouldn't have been walking across street when he should know darn well that there are people driving around without a lick of sense or attention to their driving. Didn't he realize that there are crazy street racers, cell phone addicts, text junkies, steering wheel readers, and other feckless halfwits all over the roads? Obviously, it's time to ban pedestrians. For their own safety.

pace 10 years ago

By the way, you don't need special protective gloves, that would be nice, but a solid barrier, such as a plastic bag or two can protect you while you gently apply pressure to bleeding.

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