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Thursday, September 18, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 8/16/2005

No suitable outcome

HOW would justice best be served in the aftermath of little Dameatrius McCreary's death? What would be the most satisfying outcome following the tragedy that took his life when he stepped off his school bus in Oregon back in March?

Chances are there isn't one.

The 28-year-old woman whose inattention to her driving took the boy's life was convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide the other day and will be sentenced in late September.

Her car struck the boy as he tried to cross Starr Avenue. She acknowledged that she was distracted while trying to recover a ringing cell phone that had tumbled from her lap.

Certainly we salute the jury for making the right call and convicting Angelique Dipman of a felony charge, which required a determination that her conduct was not only negligent but reckless.

Their second option was a lesser charge of misdemeanor vehicular homicide - a legal distinction that sounds absurd on its face. Can any homicide truly be a misdemeanor?

Even the felony conviction provides a maximum punishment of just five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. At the lower end, Lucas County Common Pleas Judge Jack Zouhary could simply impose community control.

Community control?

What about a little self-control? Ms. Dipman has abundantly demonstrated by her past behavior behind the wheel that speed limits do not apply to her. She has been cited four times in five years for speeding, and in each case she was significantly above the limit - 84 mph in a 55 mph zone, 71 and 70 in a 55 mph zone, and 51 in a 35 mph zone.

But even if Judge Zouhary imposes the maximum sentence, which would certainly be appropriate and, in our view, warranted, it's not likely the community will feel closure, and it's certain that Dameatrius' family will not.

We continue to hold, as we said in March, that whatever the legal outcome of the case, the tragedy should prod the General Assembly to do what New York and New Jersey have done and ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving.

Legislators, of course, are themselves among the offenders. But they need to realize, as do we all, that no phone conversation is more important than a human life.



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