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I’ve commented before that no matter what happens, as far as some motorists are concerned, cyclists are always in the wrong – even when they are children. I’ve just read a case that really takes the cake in this regard.
Matthew Kenney was a popular seventh grader who loved sports. He was killed before he had a chance to have his first girlfriend, let alone grow up, marry and have kids. He was killed by Connecticut motorist David Weaving, who has a history of using cars as if they’re guns he’s firing randomly into a crowd. He has many drunken driving convictions, but the Department of Motor Vehicles messed up and forgot to take his driving license away.
So in April 2007, Weaving is weaving through the traffic at dusk, and passes another car. At the time, he’s doing 83 mph in a 45 mph zone. He ploughs into 14-year-old cyclist Matthew Kenney, breaking his bones, and severely injuring his internal organs and brain. Matthew dies the next day, with his distraught parents at his side.
Weaving is sentenced to 10 years for manslaughter. Good! But that’s not the end of the story. At the moment, he’s suing the bereaved parents, Joanne and Steven Kenning, claiming they were negligent in allowing Matthew to ride his bike on the roadway without a helmet. (Like it would have protected him from a car doing 83 mph!)
Weaving claims he has suffered great mental and emotional pain and suffering, wrongful conviction and imprisonment, and the loss of his capacity to carry on life’s activities. (And Matthew didn’t lose his capacity to carry on life’s activities?)
Mom Joanne Kenney says:
“It drags the pain on. It’s a constant reminder. Enough is enough. Can you just leave us alone and serve your time?” Of her son, she says: “He was a loving kid. He was a caring kid. He was a helping kid. He was a honors student. He played sports. He was full of life. He had so much to give.”
Unlike his killer, who apparently has no end of things to take. The worst of it – because Weaving is considered indigent, he gets to sue Matthew’s parents for free. They, on the other hand, have to come up with legal fees.
State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and State Victim Advocate Michelle Cruz are appalled:
“Blaming the victim is just offensive. It takes obviously a very unique individual to go after the family of a deceased child. I would say it’s an unsound lawsuit.”
A unique individual indeed. But sadly, he fits pretty well in a society that tacitly condones motorist driving their cars like weapons of mass destruction – while placing the onus on cyclists to protect themselves from this reckless behaviour with helmets. IMO, this is like saying it’s just fine for people to fire guns into crowds of people – because the people really ought to be protecting themselves by wearing bullet proof vests!
Is it just me, or is there something wrong with this picture?
UPDATE: The November 29th 2010 issue of Bicycling.com features more details on this story.