If you were to take three young men, throw in alcohol and a string of bad choices, chances are it would make for a bad day. Last Wednesday in Tacoma, that formula went tragically beyond that. By the end of the day, two men were dead, the third on the run from the police, and all because of one addition to the equation: a car.
It started with an idea to shoplift some beer, a plan that immediately unraveled when the cashier pursued two of them, Walter Corey, 21, and James Paggeot, 22, outside (TNT 8/1). After allegedly fighting off the employee (upgrading a misdemeanor shoplift to a robbery), Corey and Paggeot hopped in a car allegedly driven by Raymond Lewis III and fled the scene.
When police caught up to them, they fled. Reaching reported speeds of up to 90 mph along city streets, the police pursuit ended in a crash as horrific as it was inebitable. Still in thrall to his ”fight or flight” instincts, Lewis abandoned his dying friends and raced off into the night.
All for a few cases of beer.
Stories like this are nothing new, of course. In fact, roughly 2/3 of the crime related articles which shared the web page with this one on Sunday were directly related to motor vehicles.
- A man smoking heroin while driving with his 2-year-old daughter
- Three peopled injured in a rollover crash on a dangerous forestry road
- A warrant issued for a man who crashed while racing in Point Defiance Park, leaving his injured friend behind
- Two men shot on I-405 in a road rage incident
- A passenger dies when a woman rolls their car on I-5 and tells troopers she was alone
But the point here is not that cars are evil. Nor should one assume the same of the people whose bad choices led to the above headlines.
The point is that driving a car is just as much a responsibility to the community at large as it is an individual freedom. The consequences of bad choices are amplified behind the wheel – twisted metal, bloody trauma, gauzy photos on an obituary, solitary flower wreaths on the side of lonely streets and highways where crash victims breathed their last.
When people strap in (or not) and exercise their driving privileges, they take with them whatever malice, negligence and appetite for risk they possess. The result, due to a vehicle’s mass and velocity, is road rage, drunk driving and speed.
It may be that the young driver who survived Wednesday’s crash will have years to consider these immutable laws of physics from the inside of a jail cell.
How much better would it have been if he had learned that lesson before he made his mistakes from behind the wheel of a car.