Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Failure of Systems

Trigger warning- alcoholism, car accident

Hey everyone.  I just want to take the time to honor the life of Austin Conley, a 20-year-old Augsburg College student, who died after being struck by a car this past weekend.  It was a hit and run.  He was my mom's student, and from what I have heard, a very special young man.  But I don't just want to talk about him.  Because everyone who dies in accidents such as this is valuable.  Everyone who gets  hurt by the systems our world has set up has a special life that deserves to be honored, no matter who they are.

And yes, Austin Conley was hit by a drunk driver.  But he was killed by systems.

Because the woman who killed him had a prior DWI charge, had violated her probation, and did not appear in court for this violation hearing until she was picked up and made to go.

And according to the news article, "Two other drivers on the road that night told police that before the impact, the Lumina's driver was swerving, cutting off others and nearly hit another car."

Which might mean the police had been called about the driver prior to the incident.


The driver who hit Austin was sick.  And if I were to guess, circumstances in her life were stacked against her.  That doesn't give her an excuse.  She should have never gotten into a car at 2:30 on a Sunday morning so inebriated that she could hit a person at 90 miles per hour and claim to not have  known.  But in her illness, and her failure to get better, systems are at least partially to blame. These systems make it hard for the poor, those whose perceived racial identity is black, and women to get by.


But even worse is the judicial system. How can you let someone who has driven drunk before AND not fulfilled the terms of her probation keep driving?  What about help for alcoholism, or Breathalyzers before the car starts?


Nothing can bring back Austin.  Nothing can account for the immense pain those who knew him are in.  And it doesn't help that the world in which we live makes these situations all too easy.  


Notice how I didn't call it an accident.  It wasn't. 

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