Santiago Lopez" />
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Saturday, September 23, 2023


Hit-and-run an act of hubris

Last week I rallied behind the notion of riding a bicycle to work as a way to circumvent rising gas prices. Moving about Houston under human power rather than behind the wheel of a car keeps one from fattening the oil companies’ deep pockets.

As dangerous as it is for a bicycle to share the road with Houston drivers, it is equally dangerous and sometimes riskier for pedestrians to walk down many city streets as the bulk of Houston roads lack a sidewalk for foot traffic.

This was the case for a Houston couple last week that took to walking home after an accident left their car inoperable. The Houston Chronicle reported that Christopher Walker and Jennifer Taylor were walking on the side of East Hardy Road near FM 1960 on Friday and were struck by a motor vehicle. The pair died almost immediately, and the driver failed to stop and render aid. The Chronicle said that although there are some clues, there were no witnesses to provide a description of the offending vehicle.

To add more grief to this woeful incident, Taylor was five months pregnant at the time of her death. This incident shines a light on how inhuman some drivers can be toward anyone or anything that occupies the street and is not another car. Some drivers are a menace to cyclists and will encroach upon a rider’s space on the street with a hunk of rolling steel that is no match for a bicycle – or a pedestrian, should one choose to walk where no sidewalk is to be found.

Walker, 21, and Taylor, 19, were walking along a road that did not have a sidewalk – their choice being to walk along a grassy embankment adjoined to the road or on the actual pavement itself. Regardless of their chosen path, a driver is cruising around our city streets with two people’s deaths on his or her conscience and evidence of the act on the front of his or her vehicle.

The incident seems to have occurred after dusk, making it harder for a driver to see people on the road. He or she would definitely have known the car struck someone but failed to stop to assess the situation. By now, given the media coverage, the driver knows what he or she has done and is in the midst of covering up the evidence along the front of the offending vehicle. This seems to be the only possible explanation, as it is now almost a week later and no one has come forth to claim responsibility.

Not everyone in this city has a car, should they have a vehicle at their disposal they might not have adequate insurance or funds to repair said car in the event of an accident – this forces drivers to become pedestrians to run errands and get to and from work. Lack of a car does not make someone less of a person, a fact the driver in this case has overlooked.

Running a sidewalk along every street linking downtown to the assorted suburbs would be costly and might take up all the concrete being used to rebuild the Katy Freeway. If only such a task had already been undertaken and there were a sidewalk on E. Hardy near FM 1960, the world outside their own would not know the names of Walker and Taylor. Sadly, a network of sidewalks sprawling our city is not in place.

In a case such as this – one lacking witnesses and evidence of TV’s CSI-proportions – it will take a friend or relative of the offending driver to come forward, since the driver is too much of a coward to shoulder the responsibility and take the blame for what happened. Someone has helped a friend bang out the dents on the front of a car, someone has helped his brother replace a broken headlight or damaged front bumper, someone has given her sister money to replace a broken windshield. Someone out there has seen coverage of Walker and Taylor’s deaths, and has seen the car in question, but has either not made the connection or does not want to make the connection that a person they know is also a killer.

There is no reward to be collected for turning in this person; the edification comes from doing the right thing and having the responsible party answer for what he or she has done. Two families will still be in mourning, but they may rest a bit easier knowing the person who ran down their children, and coming grandchild, is no longer faceless.

While the respective families mourn and lay a son and a daughter to rest, the driver who took two lives is fueling up his or her car in order to keep barreling down Houston streets.

Lopez, a post-baccalaureate English student, can be reached via [email protected].

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