Our view: No charges for driver who hit family doesn’t seem right

Police inspect the car involved in an accident on Aleksander Boulevard in Rice Township last August. Seven pedestrians were struck by the vehicle and seriously hurt. It was recently announced the driver will face no charges for the accident. - Sean McKeag | Times Leader

Authorities announced last week there would be no charges for driver Jigna Kyada of Mountain Top, the woman who struck and seriously injured seven people — including a baby in a stroller.

We will repeat that: No charges.

As in not even a traffic ticket.

Really?

We certainly believe there was no intent to hurt members of the Herbst family, who were out for a walk on a bright, sunny day in late August.

And Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis said an investigation ruled out drugs, alcohol, speed, cellphone usage or vehicle defects as possible causes.

Interestingly, when asked specifically about Kyada maybe falling asleep at the wheel, Salavantis said she couldn’t comment.

Next time you get pulled over for speeding or rolling through a stop sign, try telling the officer who asks for your license that it was just an accident and you didn’t mean to do it.

That usually isn’t a good enough defense.

But for some reason, it’s apparently good enough in a case that could’ve easily resulted in several fatalities.

The DA spoke with the Herbsts themselves prior to deciding on no charges.

The implication is the victims are OK with that determination.

But we’re not.

That’s because a person who makes this kind of egregious mistake on the road should have their driving abilities seriously scrutinized in the interest of public safety.

For those of you not familiar with the quiet road in Rice Township where the crash took place, we asked a neighbor about the home-lined Aleksander Boulevard.

“It’s wide open,” he said. “You would see people in plain sight very easily as soon as you turn down that road.”

The man went on to say “it’s unreal” how a car could mow down pedestrians in such a setting where “you can see everything” on almost an entirely straight path with nothing close to an obstruction.

So, if Kyada was not speeding or impaired, how could this have happened?

She should’ve had enough time to avoid the people she hit. But for some reason, she didn’t.

We aren’t sure how — at the very least — a careless driving citation doesn’t apply here, as is the case in many accidents.

The penalty for that offense is a fine and three points on a person’s license.

Kyada was found guilty of following too closely in October 2016 and paid about $135 in fines and costs, court records show. That offense should’ve also put three points on her license.

If she were cited for being careless, she would’ve had six points and would’ve had to take a written PennDOT exam to review safe driving methods, penalties and other related safety issues.

Considering what happened that day in Rice Township, a refresher course in safe driving seems like a darn good idea.

In the meantime, let this sad story be a reminder for everyone who climbs behind the wheel as distracted driving season is about to kick into high gear.

It’s going to get very warm. There will be lots of things and people to look at as you motor down the road.

But just remember, even the slightest mistake at the wheel could have life-altering consequences.

So pay attention and keep your eyes fixed on the pavement ahead.

If you don’t, you’re risking another potential tragedy.

— Times Leader

Police inspect the car involved in an accident on Aleksander Boulevard in Rice Township last August. Seven pedestrians were struck by the vehicle and seriously hurt. It was recently announced the driver will face no charges for the accident.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_Accident1.cmyk_.jpgPolice inspect the car involved in an accident on Aleksander Boulevard in Rice Township last August. Seven pedestrians were struck by the vehicle and seriously hurt. It was recently announced the driver will face no charges for the accident. Sean McKeag | Times Leader