A West Virginia University student was hit by a car on Jan. 31.
The car which crashed into her was driven by Dillan Curry, also a student at WVU.
Luckily, the Morgantown Police Department responded to the incident and promptly charged Curry with driving under the influence. Later, Curry was charged with battery against a police officer.
The victim was transported to the emergency room.
All of this information was published by the very newspaper you hold in your hands. This is pretty common procedure for an instance like this, and, up until this point, each and every charge makes perfect sense in compliance with the law and the case which led to the accident.
However, along with the charges placed on Curry, the police also felt it necessary to charge the victim with a citation for failing to use a crosswalk.
On paper, this makes sense. As Adam Pollio, a senior who witnessed the accident and later called emergency services, said, the victim was “running down the hill on the other side of Oglebay.” There is no crosswalk there, and given the general steepness of the hill there really isn’t a need for a crosswalk to be placed there.
All in all, the girl failed to use a crosswalk. She jaywalked her way down a hill and got hit by a car. This is what happened, this is factual and there is no contesting this point.
But once we move past the concrete facts of the ordeal, we must think about the human perspective, the aspect of our ethical compass which led to these laws in the first place, the part of us that realizes there are exceptions to every rule.
A girl was hit by a driver who was later cited with a DUI, a girl rolled over the windshield of the small sedan which hit her at, by Pollio estimate, around 25 miles per hour. A girl fell to the ground and has since sustained multiple injuries, lacerations and fractures for which she was rushed to the hospital. And this same girl has been given a citation.
Now I know a jaywalking citation isn’t the most horrendous of tickets. We’ve all probably paid more in towing fines by the time we graduate from this place.
Yes, she violated a law. She failed to use a crosswalk, something I can attest I do at least six times a day.
Maybe the school needs more crosswalks, maybe it needs to fix its traffic situation, maybe it needs to do a lot of things. But that’s not the point.
The point is, a girl, who’s damn lucky to be alive right now, also has to deal with an inconsequential citation we could all potentially face on a daily basis. Jaywalking is something we’ve done since we were old enough to even cross the street, something everyone thinks is a super badass thing to do when they’re 10 years old and realize it’s against the law not to cross when the little white stick figure says you can.
A jaywalking citation can cost you up to $114, with external fees, costs and penalties tacked on to up that number even more - a petty sum for the state, which receives this money, but a sizeable amount to a college kid, especially one looking at various medical expenses.
I have trouble blaming a pedestrian who was hit by a car for any form of misdemeanor, much less something as ridiculous and insignificant as jaywalking.
If the citation was meant as a preventative measure, Pollio suggests turning to other means: “Everyone jaywalks. The fact that she’s being charged with jaywalking shows a misunderstanding of prevention.”
For now, a jaywalking citation after being hit by a vehicle operated by a driver who was under the influence only serves to add insult to injury.