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Can't we just pull the plug on this scumbag?

Thursday night, during rush hour, two dipshits with far more horsepower than brains decided to drag race in Lowell. Their chosen course was the Lowell Connector, a couple-mile-long, 4-lane spur off Interstate 495 that runs into downtown Lowell. One was driving a Honda, apparently, while 18-year-old Carlos Rodriguez was behind the wheel of a 1997 Mercury Sable. Rodriguez lost control of his Sable, crossed the median, and went airborne, coming down on top of a 2002 Subara Legacy, then lurched into a 2000 Toyota Camry. Rodriguez was ejected from the car at some point, and is hospitalized in critical condition. Police are still looking for the other racing car

The Toyota's driver suffered minor injuries. But the Subaru was being driven by a 31-year-old woman, and rescuers valiantly tried to save her. When they realized her injuries were too severe, they turned their attentions to her fetus.

Oh, did I forget to mention that she was about seven months pregnant? Darn.

Anyway, they delivered the baby by Caesarean, but that didn't work, either. It died, too.

Now, I've driven the Lowell Connector many a time, I thought it was a lousy road, potentially dangerous, but never thought of it suitable for drag-racing. My main complaint was that when it ends, it dumps two lanes into a left-turn only intersection, where they have to fight to merge into a single lane. (The right-turn lanes get funneled off on a separate offramp). I guess if you live around Lowell, it's the closest thing to a drag strip, but maybe I'm too much of an old fart to even consider that.

And as far as those who are mocking him for drag-racing in a Sable, I can tell you that as the owner of a '98 Taurus wagon, if he's got the 3.0-liter, 24-valve Duratec V-6 like I do, he can get himself into plenty of trouble. 200 horsepower and 200 foot-pounds of torque can make even a 3400 to 3600-pound (sedan or wagon) car step fairly along in a fairly lively manner.

On the good news/bad news front, under Masachusetts law, a fetus has to be 24 weeks or further along before it is counted as a person when it is killed in a crime. This one was 27 weeks along, so Mr. Rodriguez will face two counts of vehicular homicide.

The bad news is under Massachusetts law, the maximum penalty for vehicular homicide is 2 1/2 years in jail, along with loss of license for 10 years. It's a MISDEMEANOR. And even if he gets the max, there's a good chance he'll get to serve them concurrently, and be out in two years.

I've got a much simpler solution. Let's just go into his hospital room and pull the goddamned plug on his life-support. (I suspect at 18, driving an 8-year-old car, he probably doesn't have very good insurance (if any) and/or much money, so it's most likely the taxpayers of Massachusetts will be picking up the tab for his care anyway.)

Accounts of the asshole and the crash here and here.

Update: more details here and here. More details and corrections from earlier accounts: Rodriguez was driving an Acura Integra, not a Mercury Sable; Deborah J. Hornberger was 8 months pregnant; Rodriguez was driving at 92 miles an hour at the time of the crash

Comments (24)

I say just remove his testi... (Below threshold)

I say just remove his testicles, without anesthesia.

I know you're just blowing ... (Below threshold)

I know you're just blowing off steam, but the reason we can't is that even the most flagrantly guilty of people get a fair trial. Unless, say, you're caught looting somewhere that the TV cameras are not.

I thought imprisonment for ... (Below threshold)

I thought imprisonment for a misdemeanor was limited to a year or less?

In any event, this sort of event should be treated as willfully negligent homicide: aggravated manslaughter, possibly rising to second-degree murder. Given the circumstances, life without parole strikes me as an appropriate penalty.

Gee I think Jay's suggestio... (Below threshold)

Gee I think Jay's suggestion is fair.

two dipshits with far mo... (Below threshold)

two dipshits with far more horsepower than brains... Carlos Rodriguez was behind the wheel of a 1997 Mercury Sable

MAN that was a harsh juxtaposition.

I'm thinking lifelong inden... (Below threshold)

I'm thinking lifelong indenture to the family of the woman and baby he killed.

I haven't bothered checking... (Below threshold)

I haven't bothered checking lately, but here in Texas I heard that getting caught drag racing will result in automatic suspension of license and confiscation of the car. Tough love style, I guess. No idea on the penalty for vehicular manslaughter. Apparently the road racers got really bad here after the Fast and the Furiously stupid movie came out.

As someone who stupidly street raced 400 and 500 hp musclecars several decades back, I can attest to how fast things go from okay to sheer hell. Even a 200 hp car can get you into trouble at 90+ mph. The dynamics of steering and control change at high speeds.

The irony is that I'm looking for a Subaru for my wife due to the high safety crash ratings. Apparently they didn't test the cars by dropping Acura's on top.

Vovlos have a stronger roof... (Below threshold)

Vovlos have a stronger roof, for those that are worried about flying Acuras.

This is yet another good re... (Below threshold)
Robin Goodfellow:

This is yet another good reason why we need to stop wasting our resources on prosecuting bogus crap like the drug war, so we have the ability to put people like this in prison for life. Would you rather have prisons full of pot-heads or full of guys like this (and rapists, and armed robbers, and pedophiles)?

[Insert tasteless joke about seriousness of vehicular homicide in Ted Kennedy's home state.]

Or we could go with my pers... (Below threshold)

Or we could go with my personal favorite solution, raising to driving age to 21. Teenagers just plain lack the good judgment and sense of consequences to be trusted with large, fast-moving hunks of metal. It's not their fault--their pre-frontal cortexes, where judgments like those are processed, aren't fully developed yet.

Unfortunately, bad things h... (Below threshold)

Unfortunately, bad things happen to good people.

1. My mothers best friend and her mother-in-law where killed instantly while taking a left turn at a green light to enter the highway. An illegal jacked up pickup truck ran the opposing light and put his bumper right through the windshield of their Nissan Sentra. They were shopping for her son's birthday which was the next day. i.e. a 14 year old found out his mother and grandmother were killed the day before his 15th birthday! The kid with the pickup truck had no license, no registration, and the truck modifications were illegal. The homicidal driver got off because his dad was a judge. He didn't serve a day of jail time. This was in Connecticut.

2. While at an office Christmas party, we were all wondering where our coworker was, he said he would be there. While we were enjoying ourselves he and his fiance' were being delivered to the county morgue. On his way to the party a car going the opposite way on the highway hit the curb jumped over the guardrail and slammed into the windshield of my coworkers company car (a Dodge Omni). Both he and his high school sweetheart fiance' were killed instantly. The drunk driver stumbled out of the car without a scratch or even a bruise. He served 6 months jail time.

3. A car load of drunken teenagers leaving a bar where they were illegally served alcohol, ran from the police and went off a bridge embankment rolling upside down in mid-air and landed on a van of kids returning from a church retreat. 10 kids were killed and 7 injured. No one went to jail because the driver was killed. The bar was fined, lost their license to sell alcohol and then closed. The owner never served time.

4. A car with two teenagers raced down I-91 in Connecticut driving over a hundred miles an hour in a Nissan 350 Z, they lost control and rolled at about 120 miles an hour. They were both killed and fortunately, did not kill anyone else. The car was totaled and about a mile of guard rail was flattened. Seems one of the teens fathers thought nothing of giving his son a car of such performance abilities for his 16th birthday. I've known several of my peers who received sporty cars and every one of them totaled it within a year. It's really dumb to give a kid a sports car when they first get their license!

Life and even death is unfair... Happens every single day in this world and the only thing keeping us sane is a bit of faith in a better afterlife.

We have been seeing a huge ... (Below threshold)

We have been seeing a huge influx of Mexicans from California driving rice burners up here in Vail. Driving around town I commented on the fact that it looked like they were filming The Fast and the Furious III up here. These cars do not make good snow cars, I expect to see a very steep rise in the number of automobile accidents in the valley this winter.

This street racing crap rea... (Below threshold)
Tim in PA:

This street racing crap really pisses me off -- a whole little subculture who thinks they have a right to drive 120mph down public streets and kill us when they fuck up.

I had a friend who brought a DVD to a party, once. It was a documentary about rich european assholes who come to the US and then proceed to drive high performance sports cars at insane speeds across the US. They use radios, radar detectors, and police scanners to try to evade law enforcement. From the few times anyone was arrested in the film, it appears they also have enough cash to take care of bail.

It really pissed me off that these people - and my friend - think it's "cool" to do 170 down a highway populated by little old ladies and soccer moms. The last straw was the ubiquitous "street racing is not a crime" bumper stickers all over their $200,000 cars. I pointed this out, and the guy got indignant and said that they knew what they were doing, and that I wasn't one to talk about doing dangerous things because I go to the rifle range. Yeah, nice, compares someone else doing something very illegal, stupid, and dangerous to me doing something safe and legal.

I'd be all for raising the driving age to 18. High school students don't need to be driving anywhere. Until your ass is 18, you should be in school. I also think we need to do something like permanent revocation of license for street racing. Driving is a privilege; you screw it up, too bad, take the bus to go work at Burger King the rest of your life. Sure beats ending someone else's prematurely.

Speaking from personal expe... (Below threshold)

Speaking from personal experience, kids who make it past 18 without having a real job - one that actually involves hard work and/or putting their hands into something disgusting - are the most dangerous. School leaves them 5 or 6 hours of reasonable work time, and keeps them from doing something stupider - like, say, have enough time to regularly drag race.

Don't take the privelege to drive away from teens in general. Take them away from stupid fuckers before they do something too ugly. Bulk up laws against smaller traffic violations.

And if someone's first mistake kills, well, they shouldn't get away with a misdemeanor.

As a person who drives for ... (Below threshold)

As a person who drives for a living, I can honestly say I can drive at 130+ miles per hour on highways, up to 80 on city streets. Not that I ever would, but I am more than capable of doing so, and do it safely as well.

With that being said, it's driving 30 miles that I have had issues with... Black ice, telephone poles, and trees make for a bad combination.

My personal speed record is 130+ coming out of the mountains of Arizona. I pegged my needle in a Ford Escort(Before you laugh, it was the sports edition they had in '96) Speed-o went up to 130 in that bad-boy. Anyways. Good fun, but not highly recommended...

This story reminds me of something that happened over the summer here where I live... These two cars were racing down the main street in my city... They estimate 70+ mph, One lost control and rolled their little Civic... Bounced up over the curb, rolled over a parked car, and smashed through a window of a store. The other car skidded to a halt, lost control and slammed into another parked car. The driver of the car that rolled didn't make it, he was ejected and his own car rolled over him. His buddy died on impact with the wall/window.

Since the speed (and reckle... (Below threshold)

Since the speed (and reckless driving) that caused the fatalities was the result of someone's "racing" activity -- intentional, premeditated activity -- the guy if he survives will certainly be charged with vehicular manslaughter. Manslaughter because the area of his intentions (did he plan ahead of time to murder someone) are the difficult area...but, from the consequences by these particular actions, I'd figure that, yes, he DID "plan ahead to murder someone" by the mere fact that he got into a car and drove it recklessly and competitively so...trying to be more reckless than someone else as standard. I'd say that that indicates murderous planning and forethought, though I KNOW there are many who don't disagree with that, and will cry that the poor guy deserves some sympathy.

My sympathy is with the husband of the woman and child who were killed by this guy. The guy deserves the maximum penalty for what he's done and I hope he's held accountable.

When one person such as this is treated "sensitively," people who drive like that think it's no big deal, and so more do it. I've seen it happen time and time again until there are whole cultures created that laud and promote drag racing without any track concerns, on public streets. Society has to treat incidents like this with a lot of harshness because when they don't, it becomes grossly acceptable. Horrid to think but it's happened many times over already.

Unfortunately, even with tr... (Below threshold)

Unfortunately, even with tracks for drag racing in some places, the types who seek the "thrill" of dragging on public streets will continue to try it...they perceive the threat of murder and such to be part of the incentive for the thrill. Thus, must be dealt with harshly, very harshly.

My sympathies for the husband of this deceased wife, mother and their child.

Darby...I took a Porsche of... (Below threshold)

Darby...I took a Porsche of mine to 120 once on a four-lane and empty, dry, clear, daylit interstate but that's the one and only time I ever did that, or will again. I tried driving a Shelby Cobra at about 90 once on an open interstate, daylite, and the stupid thing could not maintain tread contact. A Porsche, yes, but anything else, no way.

Good luck, by the way.

The context that fast drivi... (Below threshold)

The context that fast driving occurs in is what makes it safe or dangerous. Darby, I can't think of a realistic context for doing over the speed limit within the city limits. S, my 1988 740 BMW did great on the autobahn, but when the little golf carts they call economy compacts in Europe started trying to pass me when I was doing +260 km/hr, well, I couldn't imagine calling that safe for them or me. And my tricked out Jetta did fine on Nevada and eastern Ca deserted highways pegged too. A little cheaper than a Porsche.

Nonetheless, fast driving is indeed more dangerous than slow. Decision distance increases substantially more than most drivers understand. The higher the factor to your mass, the more momentum you carry. Changes in direction or stopping have increased challenges to you and your vehicle. Kinetic disassembly is an action devoutly to be avoided.

If all the videogames that included driving as an action were required to have realistic parameters for momentum and decision distance, with only one life per game and no God modes. and relatively resistant to hacking, I suspect teenage driving behavior might change, at least a little. Though the games wouln't sell well.

I'm not sure about the Lowe... (Below threshold)
John S:

I'm not sure about the Lowell Connector, I seem to remember it bumper to bumper most of the time, but 90 -95 mph on Rte 495 isn't necessarily racing: It's normal cruising speed for commuters in the left lane.

I once took my '95 Altima u... (Below threshold)
Red Five:

I once took my '95 Altima up to 127. Open stretch of I-40, dry daytime conditions. I was 25 at the time, and I've never done it again.

My wife's family has had a similar circumstance occur about a month ago. My wife's cousin and her friend (both 17) were driving late one Friday night here in Johnson City, TN. Main drag through town, 2 lanes each way plu left turn and ample shoulders on both sides. The 2 girls were going back home after picking up photos from the friend's homecoming the previous night (the friend had been crowned queen), and were sitting in their Honda CRV waiting for the light to turn green.

They never saw the late-model Mustang GT that slammed into them at least 120MPH and shoved them 296 feet before the CRV exploded. The Mustang driver (18) and his passenger (his girlfriend) escaped with minor injuries (broken arm on the driver was the worst). The friend in the CRV was killed; my wife's cousin sustained 3rd degree burns over 35% of her body, as well as some internal injuries, but she lived.

They've charged the Mustang driver with 2nd degree murder and attempted 2nd degree murder. The guy he was racing? A 38-year-old man in a Viper, who had incited him into this race, and this wasn't his first race like this. They've charged him with reckless endangerment at this point.

Oh, the cousin is in Vanderbilt's burn unit. They've done skin grafts, but one of them will have to be redone. She is walking, though, and just started physical therapy.

I hope they bury the Mustang driver, like he buried the homecoming queen. And I hope they do something nasty to the viper driver, too.

The woman and baby boy kill... (Below threshold)

The woman and baby boy killed in the Lowell accident were the beloved wife and soon-to-be son of a good friend. The thought that their killer will spend, at most, 2 1/2 years in jail while Deb's husband and family suffer for the rest of their lives is reprehensible. Carlos Rodriguez will go on to produce more idiotic, irresponsible little punks, and a woman who was the light in so many people's lives is gone forever. Turning his life support off would be too good for him.

There will never be enough ... (Below threshold)

There will never be enough pain that Carlos Rodriguez could be subjected to in order to make this situation any better. The fact is he took more than just two people's lives. Deb & her child will never be brought back & the suffering experienced with their losses by loved ones will never cease; maybe it will lessen as time goes by but Carlos Rodgiguez and his idiot friend, Angel Nieves with a suspended license and unregistered car will never be able to suffer enough to justify what they have done. Their small brains will probably never have the capacity to comprehend what they have done. Death would be too kind of a thing for Carlos Rodriguez now. I would only hope he is so mangled from his accident that he can never fully recover & that he suffers daily. And hopefully while Angel Nieves is being held without bail in a local prison, maybe the others in there will realize what he has done and subject him to unimaginable pain.

As a friend of the deceased... (Below threshold)

As a friend of the deceased, there is nothing that could ever be done to change the situation even with prosecution of the killers. The killers will never suffer to the extent of the family & friends; as they live their lives day in and day out without Deb & Sam. I can only focus on living my life differently because of the sunshine that Deb brought into it & to remember to do something today rather that put it off til morrow.






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