Does anyone think that the Sentinel's headline and sub-headline on the article below is odd? After all, vehicles don't drive themselves. Someone is required to turn the key in the ignition, to point the vehicle in a direction and to decide how fast it is going, etc. To paraphrase a famous anti-gun control saying, "Vehicles don't kill people; people kill people." So why the seeming rush to exonerate the Orange County deputy, James R. Brannon, when as the article points out, "Troopers said they have not determined how fast the deputy was driving at the time of the accident."
Yet the Sentinel is trying to make it sound like this incident could just be an unfortunate accident--with no culpability on the part of the deputy. Notice how they immediately--in the very first paragraph--ascribe this tragedy to unsafe conditions caused by the lack of a traffic light, without even knowing whether the deputy might have been at fault.
In the third paragraph they go further in trying to exonerate the deputy--again without any evidence--by blaming the victim, 38-year-old Shaun McCann, for allegedly having been wearing sunglasses, talking on his cell phone and stepping in front of the deputy's vehicle--although we thought that when driving the burden was supposed to be on drivers to look out for pedestrians, not the other way around. Notice that the source for the information on the victim is a spokesperson for the Sheriff's Office. Hardly an unbiased source since the S.O. clearly has an interest in clearing its deputy. It also seems hard to believe that someone would be wearing sunglasses at NIGHT (the time given for this incident is 8:20 p.m.).
Then paragraphs 6 through 11 are used to try to create the impression that the deputy possibly couldn't be at fault (although how could they know that yet when the Florida Highway Patrol is still investigating?). The number of accidents at this location is cited as is the lack of a traffic light and "pedestrians darting across the parkway" on a regular basis all to make it seem like this is just a naturally unsafe location. Some unspoken assumption seems to exist on the part of the Sentinel reporters that a law enforcement officer could never do something--such as driving recklessly--that would endanger the safety of civilians. The loved ones of those innocent third parties killed as a result of high-speed chases by law enforcement--including Sheriff Kevin Beary's deputies-- would surely beg to differ with that assumption.
Orange deputy's car kills pedestrian
The victim was struck at an intersection prone to accidents, residents say.
Tanya Caldwell and David A. Collins |Sentinel Staff Writers
9:59 AM EDT, October 14, 2007
A car driven by an Orange County deputy struck and killed a pedestrian Saturday night at an intersection that many in the Hunter's Creek area are calling unsafe because it has no traffic light.
The deputy, James R. Brannon, was responding to a call when his patrol car hit the pedestrian about 8:20 p.m. at Hunters Park Lane and John Young Parkway, an area that has seen a boom in new businesses with more about to open.
Sheriff's spokesman Carlos Padilla said the victim, Shaun McCann, 38, was wearing sunglasses and talking on a cell phone and stepped in front of the deputy's car. Padilla said the deputy had his lights and siren on.
The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating and said the deputy was driving southbound on John Young.
Troopers said they have not determined how fast the deputy was driving at the time of the accident, which backed up traffic for several hours. Few details about the accident were available late Saturday.
Troopers said there have been 11 accidents in the same area since Sept. 1, but workers at nearby businesses said accidents have been much more frequent.
"More than you can imagine -- at least one a day," said Joshua Thye, assistant general manager at a nearby Tijuana Flats.
Most of the accidents are the result of collisions between cars trying to turn from John Young Parkway into the restaurant and retail centers sprouting up along the roadway, Thye and others said.
But they added that they see a lot of pedestrians darting across the parkway and attributed the increased foot traffic to nearby condos and apartments.
Thye said many of his patrons lived nearby and after the accident were talking about the need for a traffic light. "They can't believe it hasn't happened before with all these businesses opening up."
Joseph Bishara, owner of the New York Village pizza parlor, said he had seen at least five or six accidents in the area in the past two days.
Ginet Bilancio, a bartender at Kahuna Grill who also lives in the area, said enough is enough. "How many times does somebody have to die before they put up a streetlight?"
Tanya Caldwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-742-5928. David Collins can be reached at email@example.com or 407-420-6292