Raquel Nelson, a mother of three, faces three years in prison after an impaired driver hitand killed her son, A.J. Nelson, while jaywalking across a four lane highway in Marietta, Georgia at nightfall.
Jerry Guy and his van plowed through the highway and hit the mother, daughter and killed A.J.. Guy never stopped to help and fled the scene. When he was finally caught, he confessed to drinking earlier that day as well being under the influence of pain medication. He was sentenced to six months in prison with five years probation. Guy has two prior convictions for hit and run.
Raquel Nelson, who will be sentenced today, faces a possible judgement of 3 years in prison for 2nd degree vehicular homicide, reckless conduct, and failure to use a crosswalk. Witnesses, family and friends say that Ms. Nelson has already suffered enough and that the government has shown no compassion to her loss, but the city government says she must face the law and possible prison time.
In the T.V. interview (below) Raquel insists that the (all white) jury most likely doesn’t understand her situation as a single mother and public transportation user which could affect the way they see her decision to jaywalk with her three young children. I have to agree with her.
Photo Source: Transportation For America
I grew up in the largest city land-wise in the contiguous United States: Jacksonville, Florida. Walking – even if it’s for a mile – is practically unheard of as everyone, from the moment they get their learners permit, drives. Even the main boulevard in my neighborhood and sleep city of Orange Park is three lanes on each side. Much of the time, cross walk signals don’t work and car accidents abound; in fact, a car hit and killed a boy leaving school WITH crossing guards on site just six blocks from my house. Having a car where I’m from is a basic necessity: if you don’t have one, you can’t live.
Public transportation in my hometown is a joke. My best friend is blind and deaf and is forced to use the public transportation and it’s terrible: drivers are never on time, they’re unreliable – sometimes never even show up – and it takes 3 to 4 hours to go a distance which a car could take fifteen minutes. In the southeast United States, waiting, for even thirty minutes, for a bus with three kids in sweltering heat will test your patience and I can see how Raquel – a single mother, most likely in a state of constant exhaustion- just wanted to go home and get some peace of mind.
The bus system in Marietta is alright at best, but it’s nothing like the serious bus systems in Europe. People in cities can choose to live without a car – and many, regardless their economic status – do. Pedestrian routes and bus systems are taken seriously by the people and city governments, unlike American public transit systems. There are even some people in France trying to fight for a free, government sponsored bus system because, in their mind, riding the bus and having pedestrian access is a basic human right.
I feel for Raquel because, despite her error in judging the safety of the road and the alertness of drivers, she did not intend to kill her son, let alone put him in life threatening danger. In France, I’m sure crossing six lanes is crazy, but in America – let’s be honest – the concept doesn’t really phase us. The woman lost her son and she has to live with the consequence for the rest of her life. The emotional and mental torture she will endure is the ultimate price to pay for the loss of a child.
Additionally, with the state of American finances, is holing this woman up in prison for three years while her two remaining children will live without their only parent, most likely living with some kind of government assistance? How much does it really cost the American people, in dollar terms, to make an example out of this woman? A woman who clearly admits the error of her ways and recounts the guilt and pain she suffers on a daily basis – all while, mind you, the man who actually killed her son gets to live free and drive the roads under the influence one again.
What do you think of Raquel’s plight? Should she get the maximum sentence? Share your thoughts in the comments section.