Consequences for Carelessness: Justice for Gloria Trent and Other Pedestrians

Yesterday, Darrell Brooks Jr. was arraigned over in Kenosha Wisconsin charged with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide, a charge that carries a mandatory life sentence.  Brooks allegedly drove his vehicle past roadblocks and into an active parade, running over dozens of people having fun, killing five that day, followed by a sixth who died of his injuries, a young boy.  

As we give thanks for our own blessings this day, we should also be thankful that such incidences are rare occurrences, and that the driver of a vehicle involved in such a horrific deed (if it does turn out that it was intentional) will be severely punished for the crime.

On October 10, 2021, Ludington had its own similar tragedy when an older out-of-state couple plowed their truck into three pedestrians on James Street.  It does not appear to have been done intentionally.  The trio of older women from Grand Rapids were walking west in the crosswalk just south of Loomis Street when they were hit by the truck.  The restaurant leftovers and other effects of the women were scattered into the street.  Two of them were hit glancingly, while one, Gloria Trent, was carried several dozen feet by the truck before the driver realized what had happened and stopped.  Neither the driver, Joann Rogers, or her husband, Dale (both pictured below), in the front passenger seat say they saw the women. 

In the police investigation, they discovered that TOJ Jewelry on Loomis had one of their security cameras pointed towards the intersection.  Four days later they retrieved the video from Tom Organ which showed the crash.  It can be observed in the video that the women were in the crosswalk for several seconds making it over halfway across, before a truck enters from the left in the video and never appears to slow down before contact is made.  That video is below, with the collision occurring at 44 seconds into the video; the video is low definition and does not show the aftermath, but be warned if you are sensitive to such content:

As noted in the LPD police report and the MCSO investigative case report, the accident investigation team also conducted a 'speed study', compiling the video below to figure out that the driver was driving at or just under the speed limit during the time they were on film.  

LPD Officer Angela Babinec was one of the responders to the incident, conducting interviews with victims, witnesses, and the truck's occupants.  She would also transport the driver to the hospital for a blood draw in order to assess whether she was driving impaired or not.  Her body cam with edited content reflects her involvement that night, found in the following video:

While one cannot equate this incident with the Kenosha one in terms of intentional conduct by the driver, Mrs. Rogers and her husband both indicate they were looking more at the roadside businesses than what was ahead of them in the street while perhaps driving too fast for the conditions (nighttime and a light drizzle). 

This incident may not have been done intentionally, but it does suggest there was a degree of carelessness on the driver's behalf since one would suspect that over 99% of drivers in this situation would see what's directly in front of them in the street, slow down or stop, and let the crosswalk clear.  

Had the Rogers couple (originally from the area) spent a little more time on driving safely through this busy downtown street, their Thanksgiving along with the Thanksgivings of their three victims and their families would all have been much more pleasant. 

Negligent driving and its consequences need to be punished severely to reflect the rights of others lawfully using the street or road, careless drivers need to be punished almost as much as those who drive while impaired or those who would maliciously use their vehicle as a weapon.  If drivers continue to get off without any consequences, the carelessness will only continue and get worse.  Joann Rogers has not been charged with anything 46 days later.

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This is disturbing. Disturbing accident, disturbing videos I'm sure (but I didn't want to to watch) and disturbing  outcome so far with no charges after 46 days. I wonder if some of the delay can be attributed to having to process across state lines?  I didn't realize the Rogers were at one time from Ludington. How disturbing that they came, probably to reminisce and that tragic accident happened (to her own admission looking at the store fronts and surroundings and not at the pedestrians in the crosswalk).  Makes me wonder if the Roger's came over on the Badger and were coming or going from the main traffic route (James St.) Back to the Badger?  To me, the accident may be a forewarning to our city "social districting" that maybe they should concentrate also on safe driving routes in these pedestrians drinking/mingling areas.

Good point about the potential impact of social district in this case, but when one looks at the witness accounts and the TOJ video, it appears that the pedestrians' and their behavior have no impact in this case, even had they been tipsy or drunk.  

Freedom Seeker, you are also very perceptive in other ways.  October 10th was the last day that the SS Badger came back to port this year.  It is likely they came across, got the shirt for remembrance, and had already gone somewhere after arriving in port around 7 PM, before coming back to James Street.  Another tragedy you portend is the lack of charges here; Officer Babinec suggests at the end that section 1702 of the Uniform Traffic Code has been violated, which is a civil infraction.  

Had she ran into a group of 1st graders killing many of them, she could only be given a traffic ticket with a ridiculously small fine if this was the only section of law that applied here.  One wonder why she suggests anything less than the misdemeanors listed in section 257.601d, a relatively new law that applies in this case.  Moving violation (yes) causing serious impairment or death (yes).  All elements are there.

Records regarding the couple shows that they lived in Scottville in the past.

This is definitely a tragedy for both the victims and the vehicle driver. From what I could observe from the video, it looks to me as if the pedestrians walked into the street and were not paying attention to traffic. On a dark rainy night it probably was very difficult to see pedestrians in the street. Putting total blame on the vehicle would not be accurate in my opinion. There were errors in judgment on both sides of this issue. If the ladies would have looked for traffic before they entered the intersection, they would have seen the vehicle approaching and should have stayed on the sidewalk until the vehicle had passed or turned. Were any of the people involved tested for blood alcohol levels, including the pedestrians? Starting this topic by comparing an intentional mass murder of pedestrians does not help anyone to approach this incident with an open mind. 

I always appreciate your counterpoints in the BUMPS group, Willy.  I assure you that I led off with the Kenosha incident's severity as a notification that cars can be very dangerous weapons when not used responsibly, just like firearms, and that I did not use it as a comparison of the two tragedies.

You claim that there were shared judgment issues on both sides, that's a valid hypothesis, but let me illustrate why I don't believe it with my additional investigations.  The three pedestrians were women deep in their 50s in age; the average old woman walks at about 0.78 m/s (roughly 2.5 ft/sec.) it would take her more than 8 seconds to get off the curb and to the middle of James Street (42 ft. wide at that point).  At 11 seconds they would be about 27.5 ft across, right in the middle of the path of normal traffic in the second lane.

I mention the 11 second time, because had the truck been traveling just under 25 mph (say about 36 fps), it would have taken them about 11 seconds to get from the crosswalk at Ludington and James to the crosswalk on Loomis, I've measured this at approximately 400 ft.  

So, if we assume that the speed of the truck was slightly under 25 mph between crosswalks, and the women were traveling the average rate of old people (and possibly less since they were in a group), it is likely they entered the crosswalk at approximately the same time the truck came into view on James Street.  Normal drivers would have seen these people for 11 seconds before they were hit, shuffling across the crosswalk.  The rain wasn't at issue at the time, and if you look at this area at night, it is well-lit and not blindingly over-lit.  It should be noted that the driver and the passenger never use these as excuses, but do share that they were looking at storefronts.

Driving down a street with good conditions at low speed and not noticing a group in a crosswalk directly in front of you that have been there for 11 seconds is not driving responsibly.  

If your calculations are correct and the woman took 8 seconds to get to the middle of the crosswalk that means that if the women had been paying attention to traffic they would have noticed the car because it took the vehicle only 3 or 4  seconds to cross the intersection. They entered the crosswalk when the vehicle would have been fully visible if they would have been looking. The vehicles lights should easily have been seen long before it got near the crosswalk and before the women stepped off the curb. So my contention is that neither the driver nor the women were fully paying attention to the situation. Another factor could have been the clothing the women were wearing. Dark clothing is not readily visible at night.  Then the glare off the street from the lights reflecting off the wet pavement may have been a factor. There also was a car stopped at the intersection when the accident happened. They had a front row seat to the incident and I'm sure their information was considered.

I think your argument is akin to a police officer blaming a rape victim for the assault because she dressed too provocatively or that she couldn't predict what was the intent in the rapist's mind.  Nevertheless, the point is well made that pedestrians should always walk 'defensively', for some drivers do not respect their duties to respect your mode of travel.

This is exactly why I always pay extra attention to cars at my side whenever I cross Ludington Avenue downtown, especially if I am crossing on the left side of the intersection and have to worry about vehicles turning left to go through my crosswalk on the opposite lane (many drivers will overlook your presence).  Nor will I step off the curb readily if I am on the right side of the intersection and a vehicle is to my immediate left and ready to make a right turn.  

In this case, I would have likely been cognizant of the vehicle coming down the street who is legally required to stop when they see me in the crosswalk, simply because they don't always do that.  I could then decide not to test them and stay put, or dash through the lane if I thought I could make it.

One of the witnesses here appears to suggest they were in their car looking north, and we don't know whether there was a vehicle coming from the south, so the option to stay put may not have been a wise choice since a car going north wouldn't expect westbound peds would stop in the middle of their journey and might present a danger of its own.  In this group of three older women, one might expect that one or more may not have been able to dash across the second lane, so they may have been trapped, perhaps two were only hit glancingly because they decided to stay in the middle of the street rather than advance.

Are you serious? You think my argument is comparable to blaming a rape victim. A rape victim who is intentionally targeted, attacked and assaulted. The point I was making is that all users of streets have their own sets of responsibilities when using those streets. This includes motor vehicle operators, cyclists and pedestrians. At the beginning of your topic you made an effort to link this incident with that criminal motorist in Wisconsin who slaughtered and mutilated all of those people just so you could  make the elderly driver in the Ludington accident to appear more like a villain. So much for looking at this with an unbiased attitude.

Don’t be dead right.

  • Distracted driving is common. So, too, is aggressive driving. Don’t assume drivers will see you or obey crosswalk laws, speed limits or traffic signals.
  • Use an outstretched arm to make drivers know you intend to cross the street. It works.
  • Be sure drivers see you and are slowing down before you step into a crosswalk. On multi-lane streets, do the same before stepping into each of the next lanes.
  • Look over your shoulder to watch for turning vehicles.


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